The PCB recently selected Asad Shafiq, Shan Masood and Ahmed Shehzad to complete the provisional squad it had announced earlier for the looming Test Series against South Africa in the UAE. It seems only fair that Asad, who is facing a bad patch with the bat, and Shan and Shehzad, who have yet to prove their Test credentials, were asked to prove their worth in a practice match against the South Africans before they were added to the 15-man squad. The same can not be said of Umar Amin however, who was a part of the 12-man squad even though his only worthwhile international innings came in the recently concluded series against Zimbabwe, who are not really world-beaters in the cricketing arena.
Amin’s international averages are modest, to put it kindly as he scores at the rate of 12, 22, and 23 in the Test, ODI and the T20 formats of the game respectively. As mentioned above, he has only scored a half-century with the bat once in 17 matches, and has consistently failed against stronger opposition such as Australia, England and Srilanka. Why he was an automatic selection in the 12-man squad even before the practice match was played (in which, btw, Amin was dismissed for a meager 12 in the only innings Pakistan A batted) is a mystery that will remain unsolved in all probability.Look back at home for a moment, and we have so many players who deserve a chance at a Test spot much more than Amin. The most obvious is Fawad Alam, who has been the biggest loser owing to Pakistan’s weird selection policies. Alam, who has been missing from the international scene for a solid 3 years now, needs no introductions to anyone who knows even a little about Paksitan’s domestic cricket. His first class (56) and List A (44) averages are unmatched in Pakistan’s domestic circuit at present, apart from a few cricketers. Amin averages 38 and 33 in the same categories.
In his short run at the international level, Alam averaged 42 and 38 in Tests and ODIs for Pakistan and has a mammoth 168 to exhibit as his Test high score. Also consider the fact that during all of his career-cum-stint in the International circuit, Alam was used out of position. With his domestic teams, Alam has always batted as No. 3 or 4, coming after the openers have returned, in the middle parts of the innings to solidify the team’s state. In ODIs however, Alam was used in the lower order and has batted on all positions from No. 5 to 9, where you need hard-hitters and surely not utility batsmen like Alam. In the Tests, he was sent to open the batting, which he had never done in the domestic prior to his Test debut. Take these non-statistical facts into account, and Alam’s numbers would seem even more daunting and impressive than they are.
Now, this author is no Albert Einstein but the numbers 42, 38, and 168 are surely not in the same league as 12, 22, and 33 (Amin’s highest score in Tests). It is not just Alam who has been constantly ignored, but other notable performers have also been suffering from PCB’s apparent ignorance of averages over 40 when selecting International squads. Sohaib Maqsood (List A Avg.: 52) and Haris Sohail (First Class Avg.: 53) are other strong examples of this unexplainable obliviousness.
It is incomprehensible for as small a mind as mine to figure out how PCB’s selection policy works. With all due respect , it can either be that the PCB’s selection committee and other higher officers are not looking at the numbers whatsoever, or they are unable to understand the meaning of these numbers, and are using random computer programs for the Pakistan Team selection process. Either ways, the message being sent out to the young cricketers playing in the domestic rings is that performing well in the domestic and international circuits is meaningless, and that does not bode well for Pakistan Cricket. Not at all.