LAHORE: National selectors need to induct groomed and experienced domestic cricketers into the Pakistan squad as opposed to raw, teenage spark, according to Hasan Raza who still yearns for one more chance, this time as a seasoned article and not a stop-gap rookie.
It could be the imminent vacancies in the Test squad or the seemingly lack of suitable options but for Hasan, having played over 200 first-class matches already and aged 18 years (and not 16, according to him) since that Test debut, hope is breeding motivation.
Dejected by lack of opportunities – he prefers to call them do-or-die situations – Hasan wants Pakistan to move away from shoving tender talent onto the biggest stage but, instead, polish it at home before unleashing the finished product.
“I’ve scored over 14,000 runs in Pakistan but the selectors are now looking for talent from the under-19 sides,” Hasan told The Express Tribune.
“All over the world, great players have been consistent performers in the domestic circuit because that’s the most difficult type of cricket.
“We’re different, we encourage raw talent but when a player starts learning and developing, he’s 28 or 29 and is termed too old to play for Pakistan.
“Domestic cricket should be the criteria for national selection, not random knocks in U19 cricket or leagues around the world. Players like Yasir Arafat, Shoaib Malik, Taufeeq Umar and Kamran Akmal moved up the ranks from the U19 side and made their names in domestic cricket.”
Bench-strength being affected: Hasan
Hasan also rued the reluctance of foreign teams’ to play in Pakistan – at senior and junior levels – as well as the lack of money being injected into domestic cricket.
Only the Afghanistan national side has toured Pakistan since the Lahore attack and the scheduled International World XI matches will be the first time since then that renowned foreign cricketers will be seen in action in the country.
“Our domestic structure is such that players don’t get highlighted. There’s so much money and glamour that’s come into cricket during the last six years but there’s not much of that here.
“So our players, in order to get exposure and be seen on tv, go where they get a chance. Players need hope to perform.
“There’s no crowd in domestic cricket apart from the Twenty20 events that take place. We’re not having the A tours anymore either so great talent is going to waste since there’s no one to watch.”
However, consistency and the right contacts will prove useful while staking a claim for a place in the national squad, added Hasan.
“In order to make it to the senior side, you need to be really consistent. But you also need a lot of support from people in power and those around you.
“The captains, coaches, selectors must like you for you to make it. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in domestic cricket even if you keep performing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2012.