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National cricket selectors need to come out clean or quit

April 28, 2013

WITHIN the next six weeks Pakistan will be participating in the last edition of the ICC Champions Trophy to be played in England. Placed in a tough group with South Africa, India and the West Indies, the unpredictable Pakistan team will have all the chances to move on to the final stages if they strike form.

However, things will work out for them only if the selection of the squad is fair and based on rationality rather than on personal likes and dislikes and on statistics gathered through the computers. Statistics do not always tell the truth. The talent and the ability of a player to deliver in the given circumstances entirely depends on the conditions he is playing in and the opponents he is pitched against.

For this you need to have the selectors presence on the domestic circuit to see for themselves how a batsman has scored runs or a bowler has taken his tally of wickets.

On my recent visits to the President’s Cup matches at the National Stadium, the only selector always present on the scene was Saleem Jaffer with others nowhere in sight. That shows up the whole process when the team for any tour is named as was the case with the squad picked for the South Africa series which eventually experienced the ignominy of a whitewash.

They would have lost anyway to the home team which is now considered to be the best on the circuit, but at least with some dignity and not with all hands down. Even before the first Test at Johannesburg started, two more players Tanvir Ahmed and Rahat Ali were also flown in. From what I hear those two were not the choice of the selectors but that of captain Misbah-ul-Haq. That is where the whole thing was exposed and showed that the selectors are no more than second class citizens as compared to the captain and the management.

The recent selection of 30 players minus experienced Younis Khan is itself a huge gaffe. Why single out Younis when the rest who were on the South African tour had even more of a humiliating presence in the Tests and in the ODIs.Now I hear that Younis is being considered again. He shouldn’t have been out in the first place considering his contribution in Tests and ODIs.

It is this weird kind of selection policy which really makes me think that things are not moving in the right direction. When Tanvir and Rahat were sent to join the rest on tour in South Africa, Iqbal Qasim and his team of selectors should have offered their resignation if they thought someone had overstepped their authority to alter the original decision.

If the series had already started and reinforcements were required by the captain, I would have understood the point. Rahat Ali was played in the first Test immediately after he landed in South Africa with an embarrassing result. He did take six wickets in one of the Tests but it does not tell everything about how he bowled. He looked rusty and ragged and was heavily punished for his nervous presence.

I also hear the murmur about Misbah, the captain having a regional bias when picking up his team for a match. If it is true it surely is sad. I personally do not believe it to be true because he is a sensible and educated individual who has been at the wrong end of the stick, thanks to the critics who lack balance. In my mind he is the only choice to lead Pakistan. I do not see much leadership potential in others for the moment.

The recent statement made by the chairman of selectors that Pakistan lacks in talent pool I thought was even more disturbing and contrary to what he had been saying earlier as did his predecessors who always sang praises about the rich talent available a home.

Iqbal Qasim has always been an honest individual as a player and as member of the selection committee in various times. He also once resigned as the chairman of selectors when things went against his principles.

I hope when he and his men select a team sometime next week for the competition in England, he makes sure not to succumb to any unnecessary pressure that is put on his panel.

I personally believe that Pakistan’s talent pool is as rich as any other country’s, like Australia, South Africa and India. But where we lack at the present time is the proper channeling and grooming of those who can make the future outfit.

Bringing back the same tried and tested players with nothing to be proud of does not really solve the problem. Unless the selectors are prepared to take chances with the new players, the rebuilding process will remain jammed and unproductive.

The present system of selection, of bringing back the same faces who rarely perform, is not only self-deceiving but also self-defeating.