'We wil place emphasis on young blood' - Jaffar
Pakistan cricket begins another recovery now that a new three-man selection committee has been announced and their first task completed - 39 players for a training camp, to be pruned to 15 for the ODI series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. Cricinfo chats to former Test fast bowler and member of the new selection committee Saleem Jaffar about a new selection policy and new blood.
Apart from being the first professional one, in what ways will this committee be different from previous ones?
We had a briefing with the chairman and we have been assured complete independence by him. The committee will take its own decisions with no interference from any departments of the board or outside sources. There won't be unnecessary pressure from anywhere and decisions will be based on merit, performance and fitness. We now have a free hand.
In terms of sourcing talent, how do you intend to operate?
All three have decided to share responsibilities. Next season, we will try and watch every match or as many as we can. Definitely we will be there for the important games especially where the better teams are involved. I will cover Karachi, Sind, Quetta games and Salahuddin [chief selector] will be there with me. We will also be in touch with regional and academy coaches. That way, even if we have missed someone, we will get notified of his talent and performance from the people who have seen him.
What was the rationale behind 39 names for this training camp, instead of the usual 25-30?
We decided to do justice to the immense talent that we have. We are a new committee and wanted to give everyone a chance to come and show us what they have. It was supposed to be 30 but we decided to extend the pack. It gives us a chance to see fresh legs as well after a tough domestic season. These 39 names are not only for the series in Abu Dhabi. We have a few Test series coming up later in the year and have opted for players who have performed well domestically and can be groomed over time to have a chance of making the cut later. There will be matches in the camp to check fitness levels and to closely see how each player plays and performs.
The absence of Inzamam-ul Haq and Younis Khan shifts the emphasis on to younger batsmen in the middle.
Naturally, with the retirement of Inzamam and the unavailability of Younis, there now exists a huge gap in the middle order. We have so many youngsters performing well on the domestic circuit and I think due to unavoidable circumstances, this is the best time to give youngsters a go and see how they perform.
A few players from the Under-19 World Cup winning teams of 2004 and 2006 have also been called up.
We will be placing emphasis on young blood. We will look at all players from now on including the U-19 and U-15 squads, the A team and academies. With this new committee we have time to do that. It is a gradual step as you can't have a player going straight from U-19 to the senior team. He needs to adapt to conditions, mental and physical. Players are not ready to take on the senior challenge straight away after age cricket. They need to play domestic cricket for a bit, mature on the field and mentally as well, gain necessary experience and it is only then we know how talented they are. Therefore, the drafting process is gradual and it will take time.
By declaring himself unavailable is Younis not setting a poor precedence for the future when players will opt for county over country?
Salahuddin [Ahmed] has been in regular contact with Younis regarding his future. I was informed of his unavailability for the Abu Dhabi series but I have no other information regarding this matter.
Hasan Raza and Asim Kamal have also been called up to camp though neither is considered by many to be suited to ODIs.
Test and one-day cricket are not that different. The majority of the players are the same. Teams undergo minor changes, allrounders come in for ODIs and specialists for Tests. I have seen Hasan Raza bat this year and he has the shots and the attitude to perform in the shorter version of the game. His recent 188 against Khan Research Laboratories is a prime example where he accumulated those runs in quick time.
Asim, however, we have not been able to see much of this season. He has not played that many games but he has been considered because he is definitely a good player and has performed exceptionally in the past whenever he has been picked. We are planning for the future and that is why we decided to invite him to the camp.
Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo