Pakistan Test team selection: What is the criteria?

Published: April 11, 2017
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Opener Shan Masood return to the 16-member squad for the upcoming three-Test series against West Indies. 
PHOTO: AFP

Opener Shan Masood return to the 16-member squad for the upcoming three-Test series against West Indies. PHOTO: AFP

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.

Shadab, Shahzad in for West Indies Tests

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.

Azhar Ali axed, Kamran and Shahzad in for West Indies ODIs

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.

 

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Mohammed
    Apr 11, 2017 - 4:42PM

    I think firstly we need to get rid of Mickey Arthur.
    For now he appears to be the main culprit.
    Inzi appears to be the front only.Recommend

  • ishi Rao
    Apr 11, 2017 - 5:25PM

    so sad…..they don’t care us who loves the game of cricket Recommend

  • mn
    Apr 11, 2017 - 5:42PM

    you forgot about the number of dropped catches for M. Amir during 2015-16. Recommend

  • JB
    Apr 12, 2017 - 10:08AM

    I think the team is quite well balanced. Honestly speaking, the domestic scene is not that reliable. Kamran Akmal’s performance in the ODIs and T20s against a weakened West Indies is a testament of the fact that performing well in the PSL is not a criteria. Furthermore, the horrid fielding. He single handedly almost lost the 3rd ODI for Pakistan.
    I think Sohail Khan needs to improve his fitness. And I think in light of Hassan Ali’s recent performances, he deserves a debut at the test level.Recommend

  • PakSal
    Apr 12, 2017 - 10:09AM

    “Fawad Alam” question is unbelievable … nobody seemed to bother to tell the passionate fans what’s his crime? I demand answer to this question … the head selector needs to come up with rationale behind his decisions, not just personal preferences … Recommend

  • ahmad
    Apr 12, 2017 - 9:29PM

    inzi knows that fawad will break his record if given ample oppourtunityRecommend

  • hore choopo
    Apr 15, 2017 - 2:18AM

    @ahmad:
    This is no reason.Fawad deserves selection on account of his performance.He has no competition with Inzi.Recommend

  • Abdul razzak
    Apr 16, 2017 - 2:08PM

    Hi hello bro i am Indian but like Pakistan team. I hope Pakistan team won this champion trophy but need hard workRecommend

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