After the Bangladesh debacle, Pakistan’s team and management were widely criticised and cricket circles demanded induction of new blood in the side to prepare a team for future.
International cricket returned to Pakistan after six years and the nation forgot that defeat and warmly welcomed the tourists.
Zimbabwe series was an ideal opportunity to make a winning combination for the long run. The management gave chances to many talented youngsters such as Mukhtar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Rizwan Ahmed, Hammad Azam. It was a good move, but recalling fast bowler Mohammad Sami at the age of 34 was a surprise decision as he had not played for Pakistan since June 2012. In his last ODI he conceded 74 runs in 9.4 overs without taking any wicket.
Sami made his Test debut along with batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq, Faisal Iqbal and Imran Farhat against New Zealand at Auckland in 2001. In his debut game, Sami rattled the Kiwis with his speed and swing and received the Man-of-the-Match award for his match-winning figures of 8-106.
Despite a memorable debut, Sami never remained a regular member of the national side. In 14 years he has played just 36 Tests, 86 ODIs and seven T20Is because of his inconsistent performance. Sometime he bowled as one of the best Pakistani fast bowlers, rattled opposition batting with his pace and swing but in the next match he looked pretty ordinary and conceded too many runs without wicket.
During last eight years he has played just three ODIs and taken three wickets for 157 runs.
Celebrating the international cricket return to Pakistan, it was the best time to give experience to young players, especially fast bowlers against an international team.
The record of Sami, initially named as the modern Malcolm Marshall by Imran Khan, has not been very impressive. Despite having good pace and a very smooth run-up and action he has not been able to deliver on the field consistently.
Just 85 wickets in 36 Tests at a high average of 52.74 runs per wickets and a strike rate of 88.2 make him one of the costliest pacers in the world.
In ODIs, he has taken 121 wickets, averaging 29.04 with a strike rate of 34.9.
Concerned about the inconsistent form of Sami, the Pakistan Cricket Board in 2006 asked Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Aaqib Javed to hold special ‘build-up’ sessions with him, but the tips remained ineffective and his performance did not improve.
In the three-Test series against India he took just seven wickets at a high average of 62.14 and his best figures were 2-92.
According to Imran Khan, Sami was trying to take a wicket on every ball and that was not helping him and would affect him in the long run. Imran’s prediction came true.
He has the embarrassing distinction of bowling the longest over in ODIs as he bowled 17 balls during an Asia Cup match against Bangladesh in 2004. He bowled seven wides and four no balls. He is also the only bowler in Test cricket history to have over 50 wickets and a bowling average of 50.
Now the management should forget Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Mohamamd Sami, and Mohammad Irfan, keep eyes on future and find out aggressive bowlers who can take wickets on any surface like Wasim and Waqar did. Giving chance to new players against Australia, South Africa or India would be wrong.
Mohammad Amir’s return to international cricket later this year can strengthen Pakistan pace attack as he is still only 23 and his combination with Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan could end Pakistan’s new ball striker drought.