Where are the new hopes of Pakistan cricket, Mr Bari?
Like water torture he keeps drip dripping away. Wasim Bari--once Pakistan's overrated wicketkeeper and now an even more overrated chairman of selectors--has managed to see off more administrators and cricketers than can be good for Pakistan cricket. Bari, Pakistan's Teflon, once drew his inspiration from his friend and writer Omar Kurieshi. You wonder where he seeks ideas now? You can't imagine that his fellow selectors, including the legendary Ehteshamuddin, the Test cricket misfit who was barely able to stagger off the pitch at Headingley, offer much in the way of piercing insights. If people are paid what they are worth then it's possibly understandable that Pakistan's selectors remain unpaid.
The problem with being in post for too long is that people can predict your patterns of behaviour. Bari, we know pretty well, has a penchant for recalling once-great-hopes and sticking with other once-great-hopes well past their sell-by date. What many have feared in Bari is that he has a natural reluctance to take a risk, an inability to see beyond the obvious selection and pluck a star from relative obscurity.
The educated gambles that have brought Pakistan cricket the riches of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Inzamam-ul Haq have all but disappeared. You might make an argument that these educated gambles should not supersede the aspirants who have emerged successfully through the system. But the Pakistan system of developing international cricketers is so haphazard and unreliable that an educated gamble might well be as good as observing somebody's stunning run in domestic cricket. But to make an educated gamble succeed you require sound judgement.
To begin to gamble you need to begin to take risks, and Bari doesn't strike me as a man who risks much. The most recent influx of new blood into the Pakistan team--Mohammad Asif apart--came during Aamir Sohail's tenure as chairman of selectors. Aamir had his own failings but an aversion to risk taking was not among them.
This West Indies series, for instance, must have been worth an educated gamble? With Pakistan's batting in urgent need of a future star it beggars belief that Shahid Yousuf was not given the opportunity of a home debut. By all accounts, he has the potential to make it in international cricket and, whisper it quietly, he plays straight. This series would seem to be an ideal launch pad.
This is not to dismiss Yasir Hameed's selection, one of the many lost talents of the Bari era. Indeed, Yasir's opportunity offers hope to aspiring cricketers in Pakistan's remote northern villages where there is abundant talent but pitiful opportunity to display it--his village is a few kilometres beyond my family village of Bakote. You might imagine that the selectors could have found room for both Yasir and Shahid?
Add to this the feeble, venom-free, bowling line up that Pakistan have conjured up--the last time I saw Samiullah Niazi in action he was failing to take part in a net session for no good reason--and you can understand why Brian Lara is licking his lips and Pakistan supporters are underwhelmed with anticipation for the forthcoming series.
After a catalogue of disasters and unending misery, Pakistan cricket required some new hopes, instead Bari and co delivered the same old water torture, the same old bankruptcy of ideas.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here