Pakistan news January 31, 2010

Chief selector Qasim quits, refuses PCB request to stay on

Iqbal Qasim has tendered his resignation as Pakistan's chief selector following the side's disastrous results in Australia, where the team was whitewashed in both the Test and ODI series in one of Pakistan's most dispiriting campaigns in recent years. The PCB has turned down the resignation and asked Qasim to carry on till the Twenty20 World Cup in April but he appears adamant on his stand.

"I am standing by my decision", Qasim told Cricinfo.

Earlier, on a day of fast-moving events, Qasim explained the reasons for his decision. "We made this team and it was the best possible team, but their performance has been really poor, unbelievably poor," he said. "I had two options after this. One was to stick on, evaluate and analyse the performance or step down. Anyone would do a post-mortem so I thought it my moral responsibility to do this."

The move came within minutes of Pakistan's two-wicket loss in Perth, sealing only their second-ever 5-0 blanking in ODI cricket. The statistic, in particular, hurt Qasim. "I have been very disturbed by it and it has really hurt. Everyone has a conscience and so with that in mind, I have stepped down. Clearly major surgery is required on the side," he said.

The PCB, though, was not playing ball. "The chairman has not accepted the resignation and asked him to continue till the World Twenty20," Nadeem Sarwar, PCB's media manager, told Cricinfo. However, it now seems a formality and the resignation, when accepted, will end a very short tenure for Qasim and likely bring in a third head of the selection committee in the PCB chairman Ijaz Butt's tenure. Qasim took over in July last year, after Abdul Qadir had left the post claiming interference in his duties from external influences. His only assignments were the Champions Trophy, in which Pakistan reached the semi-final, and the the Test and ODI challenges against New Zealand and Australia.

During this tour, on a couple of occasions disagreements with Mohammad Yousuf, the captain, cropped up, notably over the call-up of Misbah-ul-Haq in New Zealand and the request for Younis Khan for the Tests in Australia. That is not believed to be a factor behind the decision, however.

Qasim was a member of the selection committee until the 2007 World Cup and had been appointed in an honorary post, continuing as a senior employee with the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). As such, his honorary post was a break from recent practice, where the chief selectors were full-time, paid employees of the board. It is believed that at least one other member of the seven-man committee - who are paid selectors - is considering his future as well.

The move is likely to spark an escalation in the tumult permanently surrounding the country's cricket. Changes in the coaching set-up are expected after the series, as well as a change in the captaincy. Shahid Afridi led the side in the fifth ODI in Perth, after Mohammad Yousuf pulled out with what team officials said was a "stiff knee." But reports in the local press claim that Yousuf chose not to play after disagreements with the team management over the final playing XI.

Yousuf had reportedly been asked to rest from the side by the team management the night before the match, but initially refused. Ultimately disagreements over the team XI - Pakistan brought in Khalid Latif, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed - led Yousuf to sitting out, apparently in protest.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo