PCB, it's time to let go of the old and invest in the young!
PCB’s approach seems to be:
“Live in the moment. Forget the past and don’t concern yourself with the future”.
The future is what the PCB is not looking at and after the recent defeat against India there is a massive cry to rid the team of senior players who have now become a liability. The men under the PCB radar are; Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and Imran Farhat.
Shoaib Malik made his ODI debut in 1999 at Sharjah. He has played 216 ODIs and has scored 5490 runs at an average of 32.6. The significant thing is that he made his last half century in January 2009, a good four years ago! After this kind of performance, what keeps him in the team is still a mystery. In 2013, Malik has managed to compile a mere 203 runs in 12 innings with the highest score being 43 (against Ireland).
Imran Farhat made his debut against New Zealand in 2001. He has been the most inconsistent batsman for Pakistan. Since his debut, he has never been a regular member of the national side. Backed by his father-in-law, he is considered to be the king of comebacks - as useless as they may be to the team.
Recently, he toured South Africa to 'cover' for injured Nasir Jamshed, played his third Test, scoring an extremely hard-fought 73 runs. He cemented his place after scoring 93 (144) at Durban in the fourth ODI, and this performance was more than enough to give him a place in the Champions Trophy (2013) (CT-2013) squad. An interesting, and rather unsettling, fact about Imran is that he last scored a century a decade ago, in 2003 to be exact. Imran has an aggregate of 170 runs in seven matches with an average of 24.28 in 2013.
Wicket-‘dropper’ Kamran Akmal has been a burden on the team’s shoulder since his debut. He made his debut back in 2002 and has played 154 ODIs; considering how many matches he managed to drop for Pakistan, it really is a wonder how he managed to stick around so long. Recently, in the CT-2013 he dropped Kieron Pollard’s wicket at a crucial point ensuring a win for the West Indies.
Unfortunately, he is not good with the bat either. To add more negativity to his resume, he has been inspected for match fixing allegations in the past also. In this year, Kamran has scored 238 runs with his highest score being 81 (against Ireland) at an average of 18.30 in 13 matches.
After their dismal performance, this is what social media buffs have had to say about these particular players;
@AltCricket Yes Rohit Sharma is such a terrible batsman. Fancy trading him with Imran Farhat and improve bilateral relations with Pak?— Arif Ali Shah (@ArifAliShah) June 20, 2013
Pakistan batsmen in ODIs since Jan 2009۔Shoaib Malik 35 macthes .731 runs ,avg 23.58,Kamran Akmal 51 macthes ,Runs 1236,avg 25.75 .#Runs?— Abdul Ghaffar (Replay, Dawn News) (@GhaffarDawnNews) June 18, 2013
At this moment, the biggest concern is whether we have competent substitutes or not?
The answer is yes, we have got plenty of talent to replace these players with and the following are some who have performed well in the domestic season but are still waiting to be noticed nationally.
I read somewhere that Dav Whatmore has asked the selection committee for a genuine all-rounder. In my opinion, Akbar-ur-Rehman is the best player to fill that void in the team. At the age of 29, he has played for the Karachi Zebras, the Karachi Blues and the Karachi Harbour; batting at an average of 42 and with a bowling average of around 35 in List-A matches. He was instrumental in the Karachi Blue’s win over Sialkot in the 2012-13 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy’s Final where he scored 178 runs at took three critical wickets. He was the highest scorer in that tournament with 986 runs at an average of 89.63 with the help of three centuries and three half-centuries. He has been performing well in the domestic circuit for quite a while and if picked, Akbar will succeed in filling the void of a genuine all-rounder.
Mohammad Rizwan is a 21-year-old wicket-keeping batsman who has been seen knocking on the doors of Pakistan cricket team in vain. Young and energetic, Rizwan is gifted with batting talent. He can end the ‘wicket-keeping all-rounder’ drought in the team. His batting average in List-A matches is around 35 with five 50’s. His first class average is 44.3 with three centuries and twelve 50’s. He can bat in the top order and also in the middle order. He would definitely be an asset to the team if the selection committee gives him the opportunity to perform on that platform.
24-year-old Haris Sohail is a classy left-hander who made his first class debut in the year 2007. Haris’ scores his runs with an average above 40 in list-A and 52.3 in first class. He was amongst the five highest scorers in the President’s Trophy with 673 runs and four centuries at an average of 134.60 in five matches. He was selected for the T-20 in Sri Lanka but did not get a chance to perform and was also picked to travel to South Africa but got injured before availing that opportunity.
Keeping the 2015 World Cup in mind, the PCB should make some brave changes in the team and start training them from now to be able to compete in line with expectations. They must give chances to players like Akbar, Harris and Rizwan who have shone brightly in the world of domestic cricket and with the help of thorough training will shine as bright internationally.
Not only will this move be good for the team as a whole, it will let other talented players in the country step up and encourage them to work harder to make the team.
Talks of bringing Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi back to the side for the next series is a step the PCB needs to rethink. It is high time Pakistan learnt to invest in the future. Instead of investing time and effort into looking for the easy way out and giving a leeway to players whose time is definitely up, the PCB should concentrate on other younger, energetic and talented individuals. International teams don’t sport players above the age of 30; we seem to rely on players above that age bracket only! Don’t make the same mistakes again, PCB. This is the time to change, build and conquer!
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