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October 1, 2017

Unfair selection yet again


October 1, 2017

The selection of Pakistan national cricket team has always been controversial. After the announcement of the squad every time, there is criticism. People talk about the players who perform well in domestic circuit but are not chosen.

The selection committee has never followed the standard parameters of selecting young players. In their statements, the selectors always say that players are to be selected on domestic performance and there is no short cut to join national cricket team. But when the time comes for selection for any international tour, the rule is forgotten.

Once again Fawad Alam has become a victim of poor selection which was not expected at least from Inzamam-ul-Haq.

For the ongoing Sri Lanka series, Haris Sohail has been picked although he did not play during the last three years due to injury. In the same period, Fawad has scored 2070 runs, averaging 59.14.

Fawad is one of the most unfortunate players who despite having enormous talent and excellent domestic record failed to cement their place in the national team.

Fawad made his Test debut as an opener against Sri Lanka in Colombo in July 2009 and scored 184 runs in his first Test. He played his last Test the same year in November against New Zealand at Dunedin. His average in three Tests was 41.66. Since then he has not been considered for Test matches.

He has played 38 One-day Internationals for Pakistan, scoring 966 runs, averaging 40.25. He has hit one hundred and six fifties. He last played for Pakistan in 2015 in Dhaka against Bangladesh.

After remaining out for a long time, he earned a call for the Asia Cup in 2014. Against hosts Bangladesh, he scored a match-winning 74 off 70 balls while chasing.

In the next match, the final against Sri Lanka, he scored his maiden ODI century (114 not out), taking his side from 18-3 to 260-5.

Despite his remarkable average of 69 runs in eight ODIs in 2014, he was not considered for World Cup 2015.

After his excellent domestic performance from September 2014 to August 2015 in which he made two centuries, 201 and 164, and five fifties in 14 innings, he was named in the 15-man squad for the home series against England in the UAE in October 2015, but he returned without playing a match.

Last year, during the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match against SSGC in Sialkot, Fawad scored 108 runs and completed his 10,000 runs in first-class cricket.

He reached the milestone during his 211th innings and became the second fastest after legendary Hanif Mohammad, who completed 10,000 first-class runs in 189 innings. Mohammad Yousuf and Misbah-ul-Haq achieved the landmark in their 219th and 221st innings, respectively.

He made his first-class debut in 2003 at the age of 17. He has played 132 matches and managed an excellent average of 56.93 with 24 centuries and 53 fifties. Batting average wise, he is the only Pakistani in all-time 20 great batsmen of first class cricket.

Fawad was the fifth highest run-getter in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2006-07.

Ignoring Fawad proves that performance in domestic circuit is not the criteria for selection in the national team. Fawad has much better record than many players who have got chances regularly.

Despite many controversies and inconsistent performances, Umar Akmal managed to play 16 Tests for Pakistan in which he scored 1003 runs, averaging 35.82.

Last year when PCB announced the central contract list, Fawad was ignored. He had had a category-C contract previously.

Realising the consisting performance of Fawad, former PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said that he was disappointed about middle-order batsman Fawad’s omission. “If it was up to me, Fawad would still be among our centrally contracted players, but now it would be difficult for him to make a comeback to the national side due to his age,” he said.

But if age is the reason for not picking 31-year-old Fawad, how did Misbah and Younis Khan play at the age of 42 and 38, respectively?

Shoaib Malik (35), Azhar Ali (32), Asad Shafiq (31) Yasir Shah (31), and Wahab Riaz (32) are playing for Pakistan and even Bilal Asif has been selected for Sri Lanka series at the age of 32.

Despite outstanding performances in domestic matches and being repeatedly ignored he has never complained publicly like Akmal brothers have done.

Quite a few people say that Karachi factor plays a vital role in national team selection. When players like Fawad are ignored and those like Haris are selected, the perception become stronger.

Fawad is capable of playing on different positions. He is also a good fielder and handy slow left-arm orthodox bowler.

With his super fitness and consecutive outstanding domestic performances, Fawad expected to be picked for Sri Lanka series.

Last year Misbah, Younis, Shan Masood and Fawad were declared the fittest cricketers when the PCB arranged a fitness camp at PMA Kakul.

But perhaps all these things do not matter.

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