The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) selection committee, headed by chief selector Inzamamul Haq, announced the 16-member squad for the upcoming three-match Test series against West Indies last week.
The squad included some new faces and many have recently praised Inzamam for doing what others could not and give young players a chance.
However, it is quite difficult to understand the selection criteria, with many of the choices not making much sense.
The selection of opener Shan Masood, included in place of Sami Aslam, raises arguably the most questions, with no clear indication as to what it was that convinced Inzamam to select him in the first place.
Shan was dropped after a horror show during the England tour, where he was found wanting time and again against pacer James Anderson, and managed to score just 71runs in four innings at an average of 17.75.
The left-hander was asked to improve his game before he could be considered for selection again.
However, the 27-year-old had a relatively average run in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (QAT) as well, where he scored 436 runs in 14 innings at an average of just over 36.
Those who missed out on a spot at Shan’s expense include the likes of Kamran Akmal (1,035 at an average of 79.61), Fakhar Zaman (663 at an average of 54.74), Imamul Haq (844 at an average of 50) and Salman Butt (741 at an average of 49.4).
But Shan’s selection is not the only decision that doesn’t add up. The exclusion of the pace trio of Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali and Imran Khan is just as baffling.
Inzamam gave no reason why they were dropped and replaced with the uncapped Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali.
The trio have even in fact arguably been performing better in recent games than the retained Mohammad Amir.
In 2015-16, Amir has the worst record amongst all Pakistani pacers, taking wickets at an average of over 41. On the other hand Sohail — who was also ignored for the T20I and ODI series despite finishing as the top wicket-taker in the second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) — took wickets at an average of 33.
The other pace mainstay, Wahab Riaz, has also looked increasingly fatigued with every passing match since the PSL ended. As to why he isn’t being afforded a rest when other options wait in the wing is also unclear.
Abbas’ inclusion makes sense on the basis of his recent QAT season, where he finished with the highest number of wickets, but Hasan’s does not.
Even though the Peshawar Zalmi pacer is now considered a regular in Pakistan’s limited-overs sides, he is yet to prove himself in the longest format of the game.
The 23-year-old played just four matches in the last season of QAT but did claim 18 wickets at an average of 23. He is being preferred over Tabish Khan — once again amongst the top performers with 62 wickets at an average of just over 13.
The continued exclusion of Fawad Alam is an embarrassment the Pakistan Cricket Board should be held answerable for, and Inzamam once again ignored a player that has the best average in the history of Pakistan’s domestic circuit, and who scored 499 runs at an average of 55 in the last season.
When the former Pakistan skipper was appointed as Pakistan’s chief selector, many believed it was the move that would change the direction of Pakistan cricket.
But nearly one year on, nothing has changed, neither for better or for worse. Policies of the past — where favouritism trumps merit — continues, and we as a nation keep wondering why we can’t address out continued decline in cricket.