KARACHI: Pakistan’s legendary batsman Inzamamul Haq was appointed the chief selector by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on April 18, 2016. In his very first press conference, he promised to make some bold choices and select players mainly on current form and merit rather than past reputations. It took him all of almost an entire year to come good on his words.
But it seems that at long last, sense has prevailed when it comes to selecting the men who may wear the hallowed green of Pakistan. Najam Sethi can claim some of the credit for himself, with his brainchild the Pakistan Super League (PSL) arguably the most responsible for these changes in the side.
In come Shahdab Khan, the kid with the almost unpickable googly; Rumman Raees, one of the finest exponents of death-over bowling in the country; Fakhar Zaman, one of those who have been silently amassing the runs in domestic cricket for some years; and Usman Khan Shinwari, the skiddy bowler who impressed for Karachi Kings.
It was not all about the new though. Ahmad Shahzad and Kamran Akmal — almost certain to be opening partners now that Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif and Azhar Ali are not there — have forced their way back into contention with some superb performances in the PSL.
There are those who would, quite correctly, point to their outstanding performances in other recent domestic tournaments. But if you think performing in domestic competitions that aren’t the PSL can get you in the side, then you need to have a chat with a certain Fawad Alam.
Shahzad and Kamran are in the side because their PSL form meant they could no longer be ignored without a plethora of questions coming the way of the management; make no mistake about it.
Too frustratingly long, those in charge have gone with the tried and tested, sticking with the ‘better safe than sorry’ mentality and not fixing what has clearly been broke for a very long time.
The axing of former skipper Azhar Ali, as harsh as it may sound, is a step in the right direction. It shows not only a ruthless streak that was all-too-missing previously but also sends out a clear message; the ‘old’ way will not work anymore.
In Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan finally have an attacking captain; he cannot afford to be burdened down by the Azhar Alis and Asad Shafiqs of Pakistan — legends in the Test circuit they may be.
By giving the finest blend possible of young blood that Sarfraz can mould to his own liking as well as old stalwarts that he can turn to under pressure, the selectors have finally given him the platform through which he can take Pakistan forward.
For far too long the team has been stagnant, for far too long they have been out-dated and embarrassingly out of touch with the modern game.
This might be counting chickens a very long time before they are hatched but this may well be a start of a new Pakistan; a Pakistan different from the ones we grew to love in the 1990s, a Pakistan different from the ones we have grown to hate in the 21st century.
Remember this day ladies and gentlemen, years down the line this may well be remembered as the day Pakistan cricket 2.0 came into existence. The times; they may finally be a-changin.