It is not lack of talent but instead we are not picking the right players for national duty
In recent years, Pakistan have failed to produce many world class cricketers. Some fear that the reason could be a lack of talent. However, it is more likely that we are not picking the right players for national duty.
Take for example the case of Umar Amin, who played 15 ODIs for Pakistan from 2010 to 2014. He averages only 32 in List A cricket. In contrast, Asif Zakir averages more than 46, but he hasn’t been fortunate enough to represent Pakistan at the highest level. He has played for Pakistan A though.
Asif was phenomenal in the National One Day Cup in January this year as he scored back-to-back centuries against Peshawar and Islamabad. In the series against England Lions later that month in the UAE he scored a match winning innings of 68 not out.
Asif has been playing first-class cricket since 2002-03 and scoring consistently. He was the highest scorer in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2015-16 with 791 runs at an average of over 56 runs. He scored three centuries and four fifties.
He has 16 centuries and 29 half centuries in his 113-match first class career. He scored 117 in the one-day cup semi-final in 2013 and 170 off just 135 balls in the final.
Some people might say that Asif is 32 years old but Misbah-ul-Haq is about to turn 42 in a few days and is set to lead Pakistan in Tests at least till the end of this year.
It is time the national selectors did justice with this player and provided him enough opportunities to prove his mettle during the tour to England. And he should not suffer the fate that Shahid Anwar and Imran Abbas did. Shahid played an ODI in 1996 and was never considered again despite scoring 37. Imran played two ODIs in 2000 and was dropped forever although he was among the highest scorers in the country’s domestic season along with Younis Khan.
Asif Zakir deserves to be picked for the national team, in both Test and one-day squad for the England tour.
Another person worthy of selectors’ attention is 32-year-old Zohaib Khan. He played a key role in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s triumph in the recently concluded Pakistan Cup. He was among the highest scorers of the tournament with 176 runs that he scored at an average of 44. And he was the second highest wicket taker with 11 wickets from five matches.
He scored 82 in the match against Balochistan whose bowling squad was led by Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Saeed Ajmal -- all have played for Pakistan for a long time.
Zohaib averages 36 in first class and 33 in List A cricket with the bat. He has 172 wickets from 82 first class matches and a staggering 100 wickets from just 64 List A games.