Decision to omit Ganguly was unanimous
Majid Khan, the representative for Pakistan on the Asia XI selection panel for the Afro-Asia Cup, has responded to Sourav Ganguly's anger and disappointment over his exclusion from the Asia XI by saying that the decision to omit him was unanimous.
"Sourav Ganguly's omission was a unanimous decision of the selectors and his recent performances were given due consideration," PTI quoted Majid as saying. "We carefully studied the performance of all the players, including Sourav Ganguly."
Having returned to the Indian team after serving a four-match ban for slow over-rates, Ganugly said that he had been given a "raw deal" by the Asia XI selectors and accused them of making him a "whipping boy". He felt that the selection panel should have been comprised of national selectors from each country instead of former Test cricketers.
Defending the selector's decision, Majid said that the players had been chosen solely on the basis of form. "The team has been selected purely on merit. I don't think any selection panel would have selected a different team," he said. Ganguly had scored 947 runs in 31 ODIs at an average of 32 in 2004 and just 18 runs in four matches in 2005. "I understand that some of the top players have not made it to the side. It's an incentive for them to perform and get back into the team. Not selecting them in the Asian side doesn't mean that their skills, talent and potential have not been recognised."
Majid said that it was not possible for players who had not been selected in the squad to play in the Afro-Asia Cup. "The best 15 players have been selected and only they will go to South Africa. If chances have to be made, the standbys will get the first priority."
Shoaib Akhtar, for instance, was included in the Asia XI based on his star value, said Majid. "The only question mark against his name was fitness and now since he is playing County cricket, he gets a place in the side, He has also been included because the selectors thought the team needed a genuine fast bowler for South African conditions." Akhtar has not played any international cricket since returning halfway through the tour of Australia in January.
Majid said that there was no difficulty in picking the side. "The selection was basically from three countries and Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh batsman, got into the team because of his excellent performance against England." He denied claims that the national boards had nominated players. "The Pakistan Cricket Board told us that all the players except Mohammad Sami were available for selection," he said. Sami is recovering from a shin injury.