Mike Holmans October 21, 2010

Owais Shah: the limits of talent

Middlesex are no longer prepared to pay top money to someone who does not display a whole-hearted commitment to excellence
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It was a surprise when Middlesex announced that they were releasing Owais Shah at the end of the season.

A few days later I went to Lord's for my last sight of him as a Middlesex player, and he obliged with a typical Shah innings. Coming in with the team behind the rate in the chase, he put his foot on the accelerator and knocked some powerful boundaries to bring home a rare victory in the CB40, leading the teams off with 56 not out to his name. It was the sort of innings he has played many times for Middlesex as well as several times for England.

There was naturally much muttering from members to the effect that they couldn't understand why the county were getting rid of the side's best batsman, who had served the club loyally for eighteen years, never let the club down, etc. It turned out that the sticking point had been money, not form or performance – at least, not specifically. But when a club is prepared to offer a contract and the player thinks the money is insufficient there is a difference of opinion about how valuable the player is, which has to be a comment on form, performance or both.

Broadly speaking, I'm with the club on this. My admiration for Shah has been pretty limited for some years now.

I was very enthusiastic about the young Shah: in his late teens and early twenties, he looked to be a richly-talented player with a very bright future, quite likely as the mainstay of England's middle order for several years. But Shah has since become an object lesson in how far talent alone can take you – quite a long way, in fact – but also how much further you have to go to become a top-class player.

The big difference between the talented youngster and the accomplished senior professional is that the senior man makes far fewer mistakes. Over time, he has worked on his game and come up with methods of not getting out by making adjustments to his technique and solidifying his defence as well as developing his attacking strategies along with the actual shots. But in Shah's case, I can see very little evidence that much of that development has happened. He still looks like a richly-talented youngster with a bright future – except that he is now 32 and that future is largely behind him.

He never had much polishing to do on his attacking shots; he emerged from his teens almost fully-formed as a stroke-maker – which was why we were all so excited by him – but his shot selection has always been a little shaky. He has often got out playing the wrong shot from the wrong position, which is the sort of incident one is supposed to learn from so as not to do it again.

One can often get away with losing one's wicket stupidly in one-day cricket because it can just look like getting on with it and playing unselfishly, but in multi-day cricket it is rarely forgivable; because there seemed to be little progress on the eradication of such errors, I became increasingly disenchanted with Shah. I hoped that I was wrong after his sprightly 88 on Test debut against India, but it was not to be.

Relatively few players reach the heights that Shah has, despite constantly working on their games because they do not possess Shah's talent. Shah is by no means a failure, but yet I remain disappointed that he has not made more of his gifts. Which leaves me asking myself what right I have to criticise him for what he isn't rather than gladly appreciating what he is.

I have some inchoate thoughts about it being undesirable to have a player around a dressing room who manages to be a leading player despite setting a poor example to the up-and-coming players who then get the idea that they don't have to work hard on their games, but that is a matter for the captain and team management. Which brings us back to where we began: Middlesex are no longer prepared to pay top money to someone who does not display a whole-hearted commitment to excellence. In today's game, talent alone no longer suffices.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AJ4Seven on October 25, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    I don't think anyone is saying that Shah should play for England, but if you look at Bell's shocking record(not including the mighty Bangledeshis) it is hard to argue that Shah didn't deserve more than 6 tests. No one can say if this is racist or not(unlikely, but unless every Asian player isn't good enough, it seems strange that none has ever had the full backing of the various coaches), but it is fairly clear that the England setup plays favourites & weaker players(Cook & Bell)stay in the team until they score, whilst others are dropped if they don't take their chance. Also it seems to be forgotten that the ODI team has improved since Shah was dropped.

  • Anon on October 24, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    Anonymous, I think AJ is eluding to the Saffers syndrome that manifests itself by the selection of less talented players principally because of the color of their skin leading to the talented players of the wrong color leaving to find a place where talent is valued and color is an advantage.

    Unfortunately in the case of the Asian contingent talent is missing so they will be a misfit anywhere they go.....

  • Anonymous on October 24, 2010, 17:48 GMT

    Also what fantasy world does AJ live in......

    Bopara, Rashid and Shahzad jump ship?

    What is he talking about? They are English, they cant change that!

  • GramEdgar on October 24, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    i enjoyed the article, strange - shah is an underachiever and this is pinned on his lack of work to back his talent, yet he clearly is desperate to succeed if you look at his body language, cramps and general intensity with international performances - the two dont square easily.

    ridiculous assertions of racism from AJ, perhaps he should look at who coaches the side and reconsider whether a man of such principle would allow anyone judging on skin colour to select his side. also, i would like to know which player blamed his failure at top level on his skin colour, i bet a quick look at his performances would help him.

    sports teams can be infiltraded by racism, sure, but in a success based business with multiple coaches and in a squad of multi-ethnicity i think its a cheap and blind shot.

  • Gezza on October 24, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    Setting aside his origin and his attitude,the main reason why he has left was as originally stated financial. Having lost his regular England ODI place and no longer in contention for a Test place,the deal as I am led to believe offered by Middlesex was for considerably LESS than he had been earning previously,and compared to that and what he was earning in The IPL it was not acceptable. He is aexpected to sign very shortly for Essex where he will receive a saslary very much commensurate with what he was on before.

  • Anonymous on October 24, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    Instead of searching around for pathetic racist conspiracies I suggest people look at the records of Cook and Bell who they slag off despite the fact they average over 40 in Tests. Compare that to the records of Shah, Bopara and Ramps.

    I say this despite the fact that Ramps is, bar none, the best player I have ever seen at FC level. Better than Sachin, Lara the lot. He just couldnt do it consistently at Test level: with 50 (FIFTY!) chances to do so.

  • barrycrocker on October 24, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    Scrawling down the comments it seems Owais Shah's treatment has blown up into some sort of race debate. It seems he's just another example though of how England doesn't give inconsistent players as many chances as other teams like the Aussies.

    Anyone who starts his innings as nervously as Marcus North shows - particularly in test matches where 'backs to the wall' innings were required (come back AB!) - is obviously blessed with tolerant, patient selectors! He's got a good record of converting starts I guess but it is real heart-in-mouth stuff watching him scratch around for those first few runs!

    As for poor old Nathan Hauritz - it must be because he seems like such a nice bloke!

  • Occam on October 23, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    AJ - yes, that must be it. The reason that the British Asians were dropped by England is entirely down to racist selection and nothing at all to do with underperformance.

    Nothing at all to do with Vikram Solanki averaging 26 over 50 ODIs, or Kabir Ali consistently haemorrhaging over a run a ball. The fact that Sajid Mahmood bowled a good spell on debut doesnt compensate for the ODI average touching 40, and the only time Amjad Khan reminded me of an Asian fast bowler with any talent was when he over-stepped. Constantly. Without even being paid huge chunks of underworld money for the inconvenience.

    Usman Afzaal's test average of 16, Ravi Bopara's failure to make any runs of any significance for the last three years, and Samit Patel's inability to leave the chocolate cake and pies alone are all part of a great conspiracy to keep the side a whites-only preserve. In fact, I'm pretty sure the ECB were instructing Peter Moores to make Monty Panesar worse for the duration of his tenure.

  • roomi on October 23, 2010, 20:42 GMT

    Yes perhaps Shah failed to integrate in the England set up. The talent is obviously there. As somoene who played little club cricket in England one noticed the Cultural gap between English players and Asian players who may not perhaps hang out with the lads for a drink that much. Cricket clubs are more conventional than perhaps football. That was fifteen years ago and hopefully things are more integrated now. Or are they!!? Maybe this sort of thing also happens at the higher levels. One cannot help but notice that most Successful English player of Asian descent was Nasser hussain who is mixed race ( so was Ramprakash- did they get more acceptance by being half english) unlike perhaps Rashid, Mehmood, Panesar, Shah and Bilal Shafayat. Its only conjecture but still think about it. How many tests it took Mike Gatting to score a hundered ?? Answer 54. Shah deserved much better treatment ( and so did Ramprakash perhaps).

  • Sunny Singh on October 23, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    Some place on earth, a local government has banned mentioning Paul Collingood and Sachin Tendulkar in the same sentence if batting is being discussed.

  • AJ4Seven on October 25, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    I don't think anyone is saying that Shah should play for England, but if you look at Bell's shocking record(not including the mighty Bangledeshis) it is hard to argue that Shah didn't deserve more than 6 tests. No one can say if this is racist or not(unlikely, but unless every Asian player isn't good enough, it seems strange that none has ever had the full backing of the various coaches), but it is fairly clear that the England setup plays favourites & weaker players(Cook & Bell)stay in the team until they score, whilst others are dropped if they don't take their chance. Also it seems to be forgotten that the ODI team has improved since Shah was dropped.

  • Anon on October 24, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    Anonymous, I think AJ is eluding to the Saffers syndrome that manifests itself by the selection of less talented players principally because of the color of their skin leading to the talented players of the wrong color leaving to find a place where talent is valued and color is an advantage.

    Unfortunately in the case of the Asian contingent talent is missing so they will be a misfit anywhere they go.....

  • Anonymous on October 24, 2010, 17:48 GMT

    Also what fantasy world does AJ live in......

    Bopara, Rashid and Shahzad jump ship?

    What is he talking about? They are English, they cant change that!

  • GramEdgar on October 24, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    i enjoyed the article, strange - shah is an underachiever and this is pinned on his lack of work to back his talent, yet he clearly is desperate to succeed if you look at his body language, cramps and general intensity with international performances - the two dont square easily.

    ridiculous assertions of racism from AJ, perhaps he should look at who coaches the side and reconsider whether a man of such principle would allow anyone judging on skin colour to select his side. also, i would like to know which player blamed his failure at top level on his skin colour, i bet a quick look at his performances would help him.

    sports teams can be infiltraded by racism, sure, but in a success based business with multiple coaches and in a squad of multi-ethnicity i think its a cheap and blind shot.

  • Gezza on October 24, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    Setting aside his origin and his attitude,the main reason why he has left was as originally stated financial. Having lost his regular England ODI place and no longer in contention for a Test place,the deal as I am led to believe offered by Middlesex was for considerably LESS than he had been earning previously,and compared to that and what he was earning in The IPL it was not acceptable. He is aexpected to sign very shortly for Essex where he will receive a saslary very much commensurate with what he was on before.

  • Anonymous on October 24, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    Instead of searching around for pathetic racist conspiracies I suggest people look at the records of Cook and Bell who they slag off despite the fact they average over 40 in Tests. Compare that to the records of Shah, Bopara and Ramps.

    I say this despite the fact that Ramps is, bar none, the best player I have ever seen at FC level. Better than Sachin, Lara the lot. He just couldnt do it consistently at Test level: with 50 (FIFTY!) chances to do so.

  • barrycrocker on October 24, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    Scrawling down the comments it seems Owais Shah's treatment has blown up into some sort of race debate. It seems he's just another example though of how England doesn't give inconsistent players as many chances as other teams like the Aussies.

    Anyone who starts his innings as nervously as Marcus North shows - particularly in test matches where 'backs to the wall' innings were required (come back AB!) - is obviously blessed with tolerant, patient selectors! He's got a good record of converting starts I guess but it is real heart-in-mouth stuff watching him scratch around for those first few runs!

    As for poor old Nathan Hauritz - it must be because he seems like such a nice bloke!

  • Occam on October 23, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    AJ - yes, that must be it. The reason that the British Asians were dropped by England is entirely down to racist selection and nothing at all to do with underperformance.

    Nothing at all to do with Vikram Solanki averaging 26 over 50 ODIs, or Kabir Ali consistently haemorrhaging over a run a ball. The fact that Sajid Mahmood bowled a good spell on debut doesnt compensate for the ODI average touching 40, and the only time Amjad Khan reminded me of an Asian fast bowler with any talent was when he over-stepped. Constantly. Without even being paid huge chunks of underworld money for the inconvenience.

    Usman Afzaal's test average of 16, Ravi Bopara's failure to make any runs of any significance for the last three years, and Samit Patel's inability to leave the chocolate cake and pies alone are all part of a great conspiracy to keep the side a whites-only preserve. In fact, I'm pretty sure the ECB were instructing Peter Moores to make Monty Panesar worse for the duration of his tenure.

  • roomi on October 23, 2010, 20:42 GMT

    Yes perhaps Shah failed to integrate in the England set up. The talent is obviously there. As somoene who played little club cricket in England one noticed the Cultural gap between English players and Asian players who may not perhaps hang out with the lads for a drink that much. Cricket clubs are more conventional than perhaps football. That was fifteen years ago and hopefully things are more integrated now. Or are they!!? Maybe this sort of thing also happens at the higher levels. One cannot help but notice that most Successful English player of Asian descent was Nasser hussain who is mixed race ( so was Ramprakash- did they get more acceptance by being half english) unlike perhaps Rashid, Mehmood, Panesar, Shah and Bilal Shafayat. Its only conjecture but still think about it. How many tests it took Mike Gatting to score a hundered ?? Answer 54. Shah deserved much better treatment ( and so did Ramprakash perhaps).

  • Sunny Singh on October 23, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    Some place on earth, a local government has banned mentioning Paul Collingood and Sachin Tendulkar in the same sentence if batting is being discussed.

  • Jollysolly35 on October 23, 2010, 16:22 GMT

    RE ANONYMOUS (do you think Owais Shah would have made it into an Asian test team if he had been playing in Asia?)

    My point is that none of the British born Asian players are or were good enough to get into their country of origin national sides. this is why they have tried to play for England. Even their most capped "Asian" would have struggled to get into India.

    The Saffers in the current England side, and they have admitted this, are only playing for England because they are surplus to South Africa.

  • Anonymous on October 23, 2010, 10:49 GMT

    Talent is of course necessary for success but not suffiecient. Discipline, commitment and adaptability are required if one is to make the most of things. Let me ask a question: do you think Owais Shah would have made it into an Asian test team if he had been playing in Asia?

  • ndigits on October 23, 2010, 9:13 GMT

    Jackie L. Mind taking Bell's runs against Bangladesh off the list and do an average? here, for your benefit, vs Australia 25.68 India - 24.66, even NZ - 36.87, Bangladesh - 158.25. If scoring against weak oppositions is indeed criteria, then Bopara has pretty good record against WI(Averaging 118). Now let us compare chances given to Bell against Bopara and Shah, Shall we? 57 matches for Bell against 10 to Bopara and 6 to Shah. As far as I know, Bell has gotten out in silliest possible ways against Australia in test matches, but of course, I do not expect Mike to write a similar post here about Bell and his illustrated list of failures. The bias theory towards Asian players may not be true, but the English selection process is the most bizarre in the world of cricket.

  • nair ottappalam on October 23, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    AJ has raised a wrong allegation on selection of players of Asian origin. First and the foremost no comparison of Shah with either Collingwood or Cook. Although Colly doesnt have an average of the likes of Tendulkar or Ponting, he has been England's saviour many many times in both formats of the game. Cook, at present had a lean patch, is a classy opener which he has proved time and again. Now coming to the allegation, how many chances were given to Ramprakash despite his poor run? Is it not a fact that Nasser Hussain has played 90 tests for England? He was at the helm for quite some time also. Bopara was also given his due chances, but failed to grab it properly. His only positive point being 3 consequtive test tons. Vikram Solanki showed lots of promises but failed to deliver. Players like Usmaan Afzal, Kabil Ali, Shahid Mahmood, Amjad Khan were also give chances. Apart from Nasser Hussain only Monty Panesar gave any justifiction to their selection.

  • chandan on October 23, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    i think this time shah is very good player but morgan is better than shah so he is not in team.

  • waterbuffalo on October 22, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    The guy I liked was the pace bowler Sajid Mahmood, he was tall, hit the deck, nice high action, the kind of guy I thought would do well in Australia, I don't know if he got injured but it seemed he didn't have much of a run either. If he went to Australia a couple of times, who knows?

    [Mike: Hit the deck, nice high action, very inaccurate, no control of length, struggles to get into his county first XI. Ideal.]

  • Wally on October 22, 2010, 21:28 GMT

    Owais Shah broke our Saffer hearts with that unbelievable innings, watch this space, he is off to the Cape Cobras under his old Middlesex coach Richard Pybus, its how you handle the players. As far as talent is concerned read Matthew 25:14

  • Joseph on October 22, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    Nice article, but its very one dimensional. Basically, you are just narrating one of the many reasons. I personally feel that if Owais Shah had a captain like say Ricky Ponting or even Imran Khan , who would openly and publicly support him that he is a match-winner along with giving their strong favorable opinions about him as a batsman to the selectors, I don't think he would be in the same position as he is today. Sometimes, its not always a cricketer's fault when the events around him are not going in his favor.

  • UriGagarin on October 22, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    Ricaugjnr : Oh we treated Solanki shockingly. always the bridesmaid, last in line , thrown into wicketkeeping, and dropped . Shame he's a clever , skillful batsman,decent captain, great fielder and looks to be an allround great chap .

    Shame .

  • UriGagarin on October 22, 2010, 20:18 GMT

    There are plenty of cases of the 'face doesn't fit' in the England camp over the years , the selectors have a very narrow view of things, and favourites. Even those that did well of any background sometimes didn't get a real go. Look at Mallander or Alan Wells , or Foster/Read/Ambrose/any other keeper we've had.

    Bopara is in credibly talented, but is down the pecking order due being a bit shot by the Ashes ( shock by the difference to WI perhaps ) and Trott being able to come in on the first time in the Ashes and score. Its a tough call, but perhaps the right one, hopefully Bopara will come back stronger. He has lots of admirers in the England camp and beyond....

    As for Shah , well, he is a good batsman , but to be honest his running and fielding have been more than enough to say that the batting needs to be exceptional to be excused all that. Its just hasn't, when he clicked it was good , but its not been often enough. .

  • Lizzy on October 22, 2010, 20:04 GMT

    I too was at Lords to see Shah's last innings. For me the issue wasn't so much that we released him, it was probably the right decision, it was the nature by which it happened. The club released a press notice under embargo. The embargo was broken in error by a local paper and Shah found out about his release from a phone call from a mate. After 17 years service he deserved better than that.

    I think we'll miss him but hopefully Simpson and Newman will have better seasons and Chris Rogers will prove good value for money.

    It's about time we had a decent season - it's been a while

  • Ricaugjnr on October 22, 2010, 19:24 GMT

    There certainly needs to be some sort of thought applied to why it is that so many exceptionally talented British-Asian young players do not fulfil their potential. Solanki, I rate, as one of the finest batsman it has ever been my pleasure to watch. At his best, at the crease, he seemed impossible to bowl to, but his career tailed off with only a few ODI highlights to make it memorable at all. I am far from implying that there is an institutional racism on display here, I just do not believe this is the case, but certainly there is something that needs to be considered, as the comments above make plain- Kabir Ali, Moeen Ali, Solanki, Shah, Panesar, have all failed to develop and fashion the careers their talent suggests they might (or should) have had.

    And on the subject of Shah, I still feel that he is one of England's finest ODI batsmen, maybe, after Morgan, the best at calculating and orchestrating a chase. He must be considered, for England, a missed opportunity.

  • Jackie L on October 22, 2010, 18:48 GMT

    British Asian supporters do their case harm by exaggeration and ignoring facts. I watched Shah bat in the Windies and he couldn't cope despite the flattest of pitches. While his team mates were accruing 100s he was struggling to hold his bat. He was so badly hit by nerves and cramp that it was like torture. Khan was put onto bowl in Trinidad. It was also a painful exhibition of wides and no balls that seemed to go on forever. We nearly broke the world record with 73 extras. Bopara hasn't yet recovered from his Ashes baptism. He was hyped from being a good Twenty-20 player into a Test batsman when he just didn't have the range of strokes to cope.

    But Shah did have a raw deal in the 50-over game when he was dropped after his special innings in South Africa.

    As for Bell it is ridiculous to say he is a chronic failure with a Test av of 42 and 11 tons. He WAS dropped after poor form but since his return his av. is 53 with key innings that have helped us to win games. Why attack him?

  • Dr WG Grace on October 22, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    I feel with AJ's comments it is a matter of perception. It's not just Asian players who don't get an extended run in the side. Look at players from my county, Essex, who have been called up recently but not got a run. Napier and Foster anyone? Ashley Cowan? If England had a credible alternative to Cook he'd have been dropped at least once but there isn't one at present.

    The reason Rashid is not being selected is because he needs to learn his craft like Swann did. Young spinners can not develop at international level. He was not selected for the performance squad this year as the selectors feel he needs a rest after touring for the last few years. Sounds like good management to me rather than bias selection.

    Shazad was very close to getting in the team but the selectors opted to go for Bresnan as the better batsman. I suspect this is to give them the option of him batting at 7 and playing to spinners if it looks like one of the tracks will turn. Shazad's time will come.

  • Srini on October 22, 2010, 16:25 GMT

    I will have to agree with the observations made by Mike. After his initial exploits and promise, I had predicted very bright future for him. I think his lack of right attitude and understanding of qualities required to succeed at the highest level let him down. May be he didn't have the right coaching. It has nothing to do with him being of Asian descent. A typical case of highly talented people with the world at their feet failing to capitalize due to lack of discipline, focus and commitment.

    Though late to mature, I still hope he has enough pride left in him to make something out of his career. I think he has at least about 4/5 yrs left in the game but he needs to realize it is running out quickly.

    May be I am still too optimistic about his future, because I liked his game.

  • Capricorn60 on October 22, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    AJ: Couldn't agree with you more. Been following English cricket for many years now & have clearly noticed this. The England selectors would rather pick a white South-African born player - having some distant English connnections - in the team than a more talented Asian or coloured cricketer born & brought up in the U.K. Afraid the likes of Ravi Bopara, Shahzad, Rashid, Carberry, Mascarenhas etc will be treated the same as Owais Shah & not get much of a look-in the England team that their talent deserves.

    As for Nasser Hussain, all I can say he never seemed to publicly acknowledge his Indian ancestry whatsoever & also seemed to be much more aggressive/vociferous when playing India!

  • Yogesh on October 22, 2010, 16:16 GMT

    Shah has a game and wrists suited for sub-continent than most other English players but yes seems one of those guys who keeps producing sparkling innings but never kicks-on to bigger things.

    I don't think there has been any anti-asian bias at all.

    Bopara had a horror Ashes and it was a fair call to drop him for the decider. It was his bad luck(or good if it forces him to come back a better player) that the replacement chap struck a solid century and has held onto his place. Thats the way cricket goes. Ask Brad Hodge. He has a 200 against SA in Perth unlike Bopara whose only runs have been against Windies. Panesar again has only himself to blame for his decline from the blue-eyed boy to outlier.

    The Ramaprakash treatment (revolving door policy) wasn't reserved to only asian players but to everybody in the mid-1990's. Even Ramps said that he would have been better off playing in the current era.

    Its too early to say on the treatment of Shahzad & Rashid.

  • Rambo on October 22, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    As an outsider to English cricket, I have to say, I have noticed inconsistency in selection of cricketers of Asian background at the international level. I am surprised to see that the initial selection of a cricketer being very fair. Often times when I go to check out the first class records of these players, I wonder why they were selected. This has been the case for Sajid Mahmood, Ajmal Shahzad, Adil Rashid, Ravi Bopara and so on. None of them had any good first class record to warrant international selection. Yet, they were selected. However, once selected initially, their treatment had not been the same as others. Especial case in point is Bell vs Shah. Bell has been a chronic failure, and yet there's been a consistency to his selection. Shah definitely deserved more chances at the international level in test cricket. In my opinion he hasn't done too shabbily in the limited chances he's gotten. Also inconsistent selection did'nt allow Shah to settle down and feel comfortable.

  • Dan on October 22, 2010, 15:49 GMT

    Asian players never get a fair crack for England? Utter tosh. Shah, Solanki, Kabir Ali, Usman Afzaal, simply not good enough. Rashid, Bopara and Shahzad not good enough yet. How anyone can argue that England don't give Asian players a chance when our best captain in the last thirty years was Indian born is beyond me.

  • AJ on October 22, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    FC - With Hussain they had 'no other option'. He is the one who made them into what they are.

    Dr WG Grace - My argument centres around the fact that Asian players do not get a long enough run. Any player who is given a long enough run will make runs/take wickets again. Asian players are never given a run and that is a fact. They have to always 'play for their place'.

    Singh - Out of those players, apart from Panesar, which of them have been given a solid run of games or allowed to play more than one series in a row?

    I asked one of them recently why he felt he was being/had been overlooked. He did not say a word, just pointed to his skin.

  • Kunal Talgeri on October 22, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    I agree to most of Holmans' view. But I also wonder if some players' futures in the English squad were lost in the years of Duncan Fletcher's England XI and Peter Moores' XI. I might never have seen the rich talents of Graeme Swann and, to a large extent, Sidebottom and Jimmy Anderson if Fletcher had continued to coach England. Similarly, Pietersen has not been the same after his squabble with Moores. So, when I see the careers/plight of Bopara, Shah, Monty Panesar and even Jimmy Anderson, I wonder if the England Board failed to draw the line between a coach calling the shots and the ECB managing its talent pool. These are the lost boys of English cricket. I pray for Monty and Jimmy in Australia.

  • YR on October 22, 2010, 11:50 GMT

    It's true, Asian player do not get the backing, they get the chance to play one off matches as stop gap arrangements but never a long run fully backed by management. Look at Ramprakash, he might not be a very good player, he might have got multiple opportunities, but look just how were these opportunities presented. Same happening with Ravi Bopara. On the other hand look at Ian Bell and Cook, God knows who and why they were dragged for so long in the hope they will come good at some stage, but couldn't the same has happened with Ramprakash, Shah, Bopara....the list goes on?

  • Dr WG Grace on October 22, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    I completely disagree with AJ. The players he uses as an example of not being treated equally were or are not good enough at international level. Shahzad and Rashid are works in progress and Bopara whilst being brilliant for Essex has regularly failed for England. Selection has nothing to do with race.

    Shah has played international crikcet under 3 coaches and i'm sure he'd have had a long test career if he was consdiered to have been good enough. A very interesting article.

  • Growltiger on October 22, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    I don't think there is much in the comment by AJ. Shah had a fairish crack, Ramprakash played 50-something Tests, etc etc. Like Mike Holmans, I have this uneasy feeling about Shah, that he has not been good value for his team. For England, and in limited overs matches especially, there was also a lack of adaptability; lots of Shah innings started with a string of dot balls (the investment in later acceleration) but only some of them led to fireworks, and only some of them were enough for the situation. In Test matches, too, there were fitness problems, with recurrent cramps. Maybe not his fault, but a sign of weakness. All very disappointing for such a talented player.

  • jon on October 22, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    It is hard to believe Owais got droppeed after such a fantastic innings against SA, in SA!

  • ricky singh on October 22, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    I disagree, nearly all british asian players on county circuit have represented england e.g.shah, Bopara, Panesar, Shahzad, Mahmood, Ali, rashid, Amjad, Patel - even england U21 captain was asian, (until twitter rant). The fact is these players have been given their chances and not been consistent enough on international level.

  • Thar on October 22, 2010, 9:08 GMT

    I feel shah belongs to the rare catagory of players who have the potential to be world-class. but a huge failure. Rohit Sharma and Chamara Kapugedara are another two who somehow still manages to hang in their country's plans.

  • FC on October 22, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    Surely, Nasser Hussain's position as a celebrated and respected former captain of England prove you wrong?

  • Jeff on October 22, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    I agree with much of what you say Mike. I too have followed Shah's career since he first broke into the Middx team (we went to the same school, although I didn't know him personally as i'm 7 years older than him) and have been similarly disappointed by the fact that he didn't reach the heights that most Middx fans expected him to. I wonder what might have happened if Ramprakash had stayed at Middlesex? Ramprakash's career is obviously an object lesson in how to apply yourself and extract every run possible (at least at county level.) I feel that he left Middlesex at a crucial time in Shah's career. If he'd stayed, would some of his attitude and cricketing "intelligence" have rubbed off on Shah? Of course, Ramprakash leaving meant that Shah became the "star" batsman in the Middx middle order and one hoped at the time that the responsibility would help him "knuckle down" and cut out the poor shot selection, Sadly this didn't happen.

  • AJ on October 22, 2010, 7:02 GMT

    The bottom line is Asian players never get a a fair crack for Englnad, they are stops gaps or only used when there is no other option. Players like Cook and Collingwood to name a few will be played and played (and backed up by the administration "we know he is a class player") until they score a decent score and then it's "we knew he was a class player", but that justification on probabilities. Eventually, any player will make a score/take wickets if you give them long enough, problem is Asian players never get long enough.

    Nasser Hussain once said we need Asian English kids to support England. That will not happen unless the ECB starts treating Asian players equally. It is time players like Shazad, Bopara, Rashid jumped ship instead of wasting their time and talent otherwise they'll end up like Solanki, Kabir Ali, etc.

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  • AJ on October 22, 2010, 7:02 GMT

    The bottom line is Asian players never get a a fair crack for Englnad, they are stops gaps or only used when there is no other option. Players like Cook and Collingwood to name a few will be played and played (and backed up by the administration "we know he is a class player") until they score a decent score and then it's "we knew he was a class player", but that justification on probabilities. Eventually, any player will make a score/take wickets if you give them long enough, problem is Asian players never get long enough.

    Nasser Hussain once said we need Asian English kids to support England. That will not happen unless the ECB starts treating Asian players equally. It is time players like Shazad, Bopara, Rashid jumped ship instead of wasting their time and talent otherwise they'll end up like Solanki, Kabir Ali, etc.

  • Jeff on October 22, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    I agree with much of what you say Mike. I too have followed Shah's career since he first broke into the Middx team (we went to the same school, although I didn't know him personally as i'm 7 years older than him) and have been similarly disappointed by the fact that he didn't reach the heights that most Middx fans expected him to. I wonder what might have happened if Ramprakash had stayed at Middlesex? Ramprakash's career is obviously an object lesson in how to apply yourself and extract every run possible (at least at county level.) I feel that he left Middlesex at a crucial time in Shah's career. If he'd stayed, would some of his attitude and cricketing "intelligence" have rubbed off on Shah? Of course, Ramprakash leaving meant that Shah became the "star" batsman in the Middx middle order and one hoped at the time that the responsibility would help him "knuckle down" and cut out the poor shot selection, Sadly this didn't happen.

  • FC on October 22, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    Surely, Nasser Hussain's position as a celebrated and respected former captain of England prove you wrong?

  • Thar on October 22, 2010, 9:08 GMT

    I feel shah belongs to the rare catagory of players who have the potential to be world-class. but a huge failure. Rohit Sharma and Chamara Kapugedara are another two who somehow still manages to hang in their country's plans.

  • ricky singh on October 22, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    I disagree, nearly all british asian players on county circuit have represented england e.g.shah, Bopara, Panesar, Shahzad, Mahmood, Ali, rashid, Amjad, Patel - even england U21 captain was asian, (until twitter rant). The fact is these players have been given their chances and not been consistent enough on international level.

  • jon on October 22, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    It is hard to believe Owais got droppeed after such a fantastic innings against SA, in SA!

  • Growltiger on October 22, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    I don't think there is much in the comment by AJ. Shah had a fairish crack, Ramprakash played 50-something Tests, etc etc. Like Mike Holmans, I have this uneasy feeling about Shah, that he has not been good value for his team. For England, and in limited overs matches especially, there was also a lack of adaptability; lots of Shah innings started with a string of dot balls (the investment in later acceleration) but only some of them led to fireworks, and only some of them were enough for the situation. In Test matches, too, there were fitness problems, with recurrent cramps. Maybe not his fault, but a sign of weakness. All very disappointing for such a talented player.

  • Dr WG Grace on October 22, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    I completely disagree with AJ. The players he uses as an example of not being treated equally were or are not good enough at international level. Shahzad and Rashid are works in progress and Bopara whilst being brilliant for Essex has regularly failed for England. Selection has nothing to do with race.

    Shah has played international crikcet under 3 coaches and i'm sure he'd have had a long test career if he was consdiered to have been good enough. A very interesting article.

  • YR on October 22, 2010, 11:50 GMT

    It's true, Asian player do not get the backing, they get the chance to play one off matches as stop gap arrangements but never a long run fully backed by management. Look at Ramprakash, he might not be a very good player, he might have got multiple opportunities, but look just how were these opportunities presented. Same happening with Ravi Bopara. On the other hand look at Ian Bell and Cook, God knows who and why they were dragged for so long in the hope they will come good at some stage, but couldn't the same has happened with Ramprakash, Shah, Bopara....the list goes on?

  • Kunal Talgeri on October 22, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    I agree to most of Holmans' view. But I also wonder if some players' futures in the English squad were lost in the years of Duncan Fletcher's England XI and Peter Moores' XI. I might never have seen the rich talents of Graeme Swann and, to a large extent, Sidebottom and Jimmy Anderson if Fletcher had continued to coach England. Similarly, Pietersen has not been the same after his squabble with Moores. So, when I see the careers/plight of Bopara, Shah, Monty Panesar and even Jimmy Anderson, I wonder if the England Board failed to draw the line between a coach calling the shots and the ECB managing its talent pool. These are the lost boys of English cricket. I pray for Monty and Jimmy in Australia.