Pakistan cricket and its fans continue to mourn about a lack of talent in the country but seldom look at the way certain impressive domestic cricket performers are ignored — some in the name of fitness, others either due to a lack of technique or a lack of power hitting capabilities.
The likes of Misbahul Haq, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar and Mohammad Irfan came into the international spotlight towards the twilight of their careers but had all been performing at the domestic level long before they were considered for the national team — hence wasting such rare talents at their peak.
This sort of blatant injustice continues and batsmen such as Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif and Fawad Alam can also argue to have their names added to this list.
However, the former two broke into the national team courtesy of their performances of the high-profile Pakistan Super League in the UAE.
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The same cannot be said of Alam though, who continues to perform at the domestic level with mindboggling consistency.
Naeemuddin and Usman Salahuddin could also perhaps claim their impressive performances merit more recognition.
Late blooming opener Naeemuddin, who plays for SNGPL, has slammed 13 first-class centuries in the last two seasons but is ignored due to his fitness.
Middle-order batsman Usman Salahuddin has accumulated 5,069 runs in 82 first-class matches at an average of 45.22 with 16 centuries to his name. Doubts are often raised about Salahuddin’s ability to play the short-pitched delivery but that is a weakness ailing many batsmen in the sub-continent.
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But even Naeemuddin and Salahuddin’s numbers are dwarfed by Alam’s, whose first-class average of 56.71 is the 19th highest of all time across the globe.
Alam’s ODI and Test averages of 40.25 and 41.66 are nothing to be scoffed at either, while he was one of the best batsmen in the world in 2014, with an average of 69, but found himself out of the side soon after.
However, the batsmen are not the only ones who have been continuously ignored. Bowlers such as Sadaf Hussain and Tabish Khan also star for their respective domestic sides.
The 26-year-old Sadaf, who is left-arm seamer standing at six feet five inches, has jaw-dropping stats in domestic cricket and can move the ball both ways at will.
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Sadaf has picked up 283 wickets in 59 first-class matches at an average of 18.46 and a strike-rate of 37.3 with 22 five-fors and five 10-wicket hauls, while his list A is even more impressive with 77 wickets in 34 matches at an average of 17.63 and a strike-rate of 17.63.
Paceman Tabish Khan has been picking up wickets for fun while playing for Karachi, UBL, State Bank and SSGC, but his 416 first-class wickets have not brought him any closer to the Pakistan A side, let alone the senior one.
With Inzamamul Haq coming in as chief selector, there is renewed hope that selection will not be limited only to players who perform in televised tournaments.
The new selection committee would do well to keep a keen eye out on this men, lest we realise their potential when it’s too late.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2016.
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