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December 2, 2009

New Zealand 2009

Forget two, one opener required

Kamran Abbasi


Bring back Misbah © Associated Press
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After the setback in Dunedin, Pakistan will regret two decisions. The first was Mohammad Yousuf's defensive option to bowl first, which forced his team to chase a tricky total on an unpredictable final-day wicket. The second was the team selection.

Pakistan's bowlers almost pick themselves but the batsmen are a different matter altogether: nobody seems to know who to pick. You might have expected that Pakistan's salaried selectors had a sufficient level of expertise to be sure of most, if not all, of Pakistan's top six? That isn't the case, and disturbingly the top three positions are in a constant state of indecisive flux.

What to do, especially as Khurram Manzoor and Imran Farhat looked out of their depth and the next match at Wellington could be even more difficult for Pakistan's batsmen? These two unfortunates should make way for Salman Butt, a proven Test opener, and Misbah-ul Haq, a proven rallier of the late order with a career to revive.

It also seems unfair, almost negligent to throw Fawad Alam in at No. 3 when Shoaib Malik and Yousuf are in the ranks. As a senior player, Malik needs to be in the top three. Yousuf is unlikely to shift from his preferred position. Pakistan's paucity of opening options also means that Kamran Akmal might have to be a temporary solution again.

But this top-order nonsense really does have to end. When Younis Khan is back he will take No. 3 but Pakistan's best opening combination is unknown. Pakistan should be looking ahead to the tour of Australia. To enter that tour without at least one settled opener will be suicidal. Again, with the options available Butt has to be that man.

Young, inexperienced, our out-of-form players are usually best inducted one at a time in top-level sport. Pakistan throw in all these varieties in one go and hope for the best, which is exactly what the fans are left to do thanks to their team's inexplicable selection policy.

With Shane Bond out, Pakistan have every chance of winning this second Test but they must back their most proven performers and those with the soundest techniques.

The bowlers and the Akmal brothers deserve better.

Thanks to everybody who tweeted during the final day's play last week. I'll also be intermittently tweeting on the second Test: http://twitter.com/KamranAbbasi

The tweet of last week was by buya_kasha in the middle of Pakistan's final-innings collapse: "We should be playing the whole Akmal family including their maids."

Lose in Wellington and it might be worth a try.

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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by Muhammad Hussain on (January 11, 2010, 22:43 GMT)

I would like to commend the political and sports governing body in Pakistan in bringing more shame and humiliation into cricket. The system is full of rotten apples from the political arena to every other system that affects the man on the street. The current management, along with the cricket squad are an absolute joke. They never cease to bring fresh humiliation onto themselves and the nation they represent. It is no wonder Pakistan is the laughing stock of the cricket world. Can I suggest something positive out of this, that the PCB convert the cricket stadiums into hospitals so that it's countrymen can benefit from somthing as pointless as cricket being served to the poor nation.

Posted by Muhammad Hussain on (January 11, 2010, 22:43 GMT)

I would like to commend the political and sports governing body in Pakistan in bringing more shame and humiliation into cricket. The system is full of rotten apples from the political arena to every other system that affects the man on the street. The current management, along with the cricket squad are an absolute joke. They never cease to bring fresh humiliation onto themselves and the nation they represent. It is no wonder Pakistan is the laughing stock of the cricket world. Can I suggest something positive out of this, that the PCB convert the cricket stadiums into hospitals so that it's countrymen can benefit from somthing as pointless as cricket being served to the poor nation.

Posted by Zarif on (December 9, 2009, 5:41 GMT)

I think pakistan should consider bringing Shahid Afridi out of his retirement and including him in the test squad. I think he recently has proved his consistency in batting and he can also bat in almost any position. His inclusion in the squad can also make room for one more batsman as he as very well take the part of a quality bowler.

Posted by Omar on (December 8, 2009, 16:21 GMT)

I am absolutely convinced that Shahid Afridi should be in the test team as player and captain. If he doesn't want to play test cricket, he needs to be convinced. He is a potential match-winner as a bowler alone, and he can be a devastating batsman. Who is a better allrounder at present, and what does Pakistan have to lose by playing him?

Posted by Marlo on (December 8, 2009, 14:14 GMT)

SHAME, yes its a shame that selectors Khuram and Shoaib in the team for Australia. Khuram with his totally flawed technique was so easily exposed in NZ and should have been replaced by Taufiq Umar. And yet again Shoaib stays in the team for no other reason then politics. This batting lineup is never going to touch 300 even once on this australian tour. And its so obvious that defeats are in their fate then why not take a couple of new talented boys with you. PCB should make a policy to take 18 boys on foreign tours when there is no international games in Pakistan.

Posted by SHAHID on (December 8, 2009, 11:52 GMT)

It is so obvious that the present bating line will hardly score 200 in a test innings in Australia. It will be a shame if selectors do not come up with some fresh talent like Naved Yasin in to the fold. Faisal Iqbal or Shoaib Malik, it doesn't change anything. Toufiq Umar who is in form having better average (40) than Butt and Farhat and having experience of playing in south Africa and England should be part of the team. For me Mohammad Wasim is a much better prospect than Faisal. They are destroying it by selecting players with chachey and mamey on board posts. Neither Faisal nor Farhat has a first calss or international averages to support their selection. Then you cant go in to a test with only 4 bowlers. Afridi or Said Ajmal should be added as spin is the only obtion to derail Oz. Butt Taufiq Umar Kamran Akmal Mohammas Yousef Umar Akmal Fawad Alam Afridi Mohammad Aamer Umar Gul Mohammad Asif Danish Kaneria

Posted by Ghaus on (December 7, 2009, 20:50 GMT)

I think Fawad Alam or Faisal iqbal should be included in the last test. Misbah-ul Haq should be dropped. He should not have been brought back. There are so many young talented player who were selected ahead of Misbah and they are not given any chance. Even if they are given any chance they are asked to bat as an opener or one down position (Example Fawad alam). Fawad is a middle order batsman and he should be allowed to play at no. 5 or no 6 position. Also where is Asim Kamal. He has a good test average and he should have been selected over Misbah if they were so deparate to bring addtionally from Pakistan. It is shameful not to give proper chance to young players.

Posted by Akhtar Hassan on (December 4, 2009, 18:55 GMT)

All the openers on this tour are tried and tested failures and should not have been selected in the first place. The senseless selectors need to be sacked as soon as possible. For the last few years none of selectors has shown any foresight. Yasir Hameed and Taufiq Umer who started as very good openers were wasted. PCB as a whole is a useless body. We need honest and competent people in PCB but it seems to be a wishful thinking. Alas our whole nation is being run by corrupt leaders and it is being reflected in every field including cricket.

Posted by rauf khan on (December 4, 2009, 18:20 GMT)

i think imran f,s butt,faisal iqbal khurram,and fawad cant be in test cricket teem salman and imran are very bad filder khurram and fawad have no test match quality they can only play in slow wickets ,faisal is around more then 7,are 8 years only bec he is javed m parchi his average is not for test match look he is PIA captan it make me laugh there is 50 player batter then thease players in pakistan domestick cricket they dont get chance bec they dont have safarish

Posted by Muhammad Amjad Mayo on (December 4, 2009, 17:54 GMT)

We need good technical correct player at opener slot or even middle order too. Most Pakistani players not technical correct that's why they failed to do good with bat when they going abroad.Thanks to our bowlers that produce wining for us in past and future inshallah. Selectors pick the boys that score most in domestic level. The criteria to pick players first technique, then score that he scored in domestic level and the most important fielding.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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