Pakistan central contracts March 20, 2010

How bizarre


The PCB announced much-awaited central contracts for its players on Friday. The fate of players banned after a committee inquiry following the Australia tour over the turn of the year dominated the headlines. Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik or Rana Naved-ul-Hasan were not awarded central contracts, but their fates shielded a number of very bizarre decisions taken by the board and selection committee in its picks. Here, in no particular order, are just a few.

Why not Mohammad Sami?

Mohammad Sami hasn't covered himself in any kind of glory over the length of his career and his sudden call-up to the Australia tour was as unexpected as it could've been unpleasant. It wasn't, as an apparently refreshed Sami rattled Australia on the very first morning of the Sydney Test in a frighteningly quick first spell that all but fetched him a hat-trick. And it should have set up a rare Test win for Pakistan.

Additionally, as captain, he led Karachi to triumph in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, rattling a strong Habib Bank side in the final, just as he left for Australia. Thirty-eight wickets in the QEA are not earth-shattering, but a trophy triumph and such a heartening return surely merited some kind of reward? Not a top contract, admittedly, but to not even consider him for a stipend, especially when you consider below.

Why Wahab Riaz?

The last time Wahab Riaz played for Pakistan was nearly two years ago. This season he took 14 wickets at over 40 in the QEA. He was nowhere in RBS ODI cup or the Pentangular. He took a few wickets for Pakistan A on their UAE tour in games against the England Lions.

In plain words, how on earth does he qualify for a category C contract, over men such as Sami? Or how about Mohammad Irfan, the left-arm fast bowler who at near seven feet tall at least provides a different threat altogether, and was in many ways the story of this domestic season? Or even below.

Why not Rao Iftikhar Anjum?

Probably because you will not hear him make a noise about it, or hear him canvassing for selection, nobody will be much fussed about the exclusion of Rao Iftikhar Anjum. Honest workhorses are rarely celebrated or rewarded in Pakistan.

But Rao's performance for Pakistan over the last three, pretty terrible years - mostly as a thankless, white-ball first change - have warranted more than this sacking: with over 53 ODI wickets in 34 ODIs he is among the country's leading wicket-takers in that period. He has been an effective and uncomplaining foil to bigger fast bowling names, with added nous than when he first came in.

Maybe he doesn't warrant a starting place in an ODI line-up if Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer and Umar Gul are in (and Gul's form is currently poor enough to require cover) but central contracts are not about the first XI only: they are about building a pool and rewarding consistent performers, reliable and committed players and Rao is nothing if not that.

Abdul Razzaq in category A?

Abdul Razzaq has been a fine player for Pakistan over the years. He could and should have been the latest in a line of supremely accomplished allrounders this country has produced but that he didn't fulfill that is for another day. To find him in category A in this year's list is to suspect the PCB and selectors still believe the hype and potential of the late 90s, when he first made his name.

Razzaq is no longer a candidate in Tests and he seems to have ruled himself out of that format. In ODIs he has been fitful since his return from the ICL and he has batted as if he left behind his skills in the ICL. In the shortest format of the game, of course, he has been vital and was one of the main men behind Pakistan's world triumph last year.

Unquestionably he should be in the pool, but category A? In any case that category seems to say more perhaps about who is not there than who is.

The curious category C

The two men who have long been touted - and selected - as solutions to Pakistan's most vexing problem over the years find themselves on monthly stipends. Khalid Latif has not set the world alight admittedly, but has not disgraced himself in the 50-over game. And he is in Pakistan's squad for the World Twenty20.

Khurram Manzoor, meanwhile, for all his technical quirks has toughed it out for three fifties against solid opposition (two away from home). His last international innings, against Australia in Hobart, yielded a disciplined, brave 77 from one-down.

Why they find themselves below Abdul Rehman and Mohammad Hafeez who are both in category C only those who selected the pool know. Rehman has had a spectacular domestic season and Hafeez a solid one, but the former hasn't played for Pakistan - or been in serious contention after the arrival of Saeed Ajmal - since December 2007. Hafeez last turned out in a Pakistan shirt in October 2007 and is only now a member of the World Twenty20 squad.

Yet the pair are in the same category as Fawad Alam, who is pushing for a starting spot in all three formats, and who, in the shadow of Umar Akmal and Mohammad Aamer, had a quiet breakout year last year of his own.

And finally...

A point to ponder: the expected annual salary that Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal will earn from their annual contracts - Rs 30 lakh for Afridi and Kamran and Rs 21 lakh for Umar - work out almost exactly to the fines levied on them by the board last week. In effect, the trio will play for Pakistan for no money over the next year.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    Good work Osman but I feel fawad alam's selection is unjustified. Can't they find a better allrounder than him? And razzaq's inclusion is fair in my opinion, he's a star performer and deserves to be the captain too. Rao should have been awarded a contract in place of Asif and no body is playing for free Sir. they will be paid their match fee and man of the match awards and other bonuses

  • Nik on March 23, 2010, 20:53 GMT

    Great news that Afridi is captain! Best choice! central contracts dont mean a great deal as its a pcb management choice. Razzaq deserves it, tho! Sami looks dynamite lately and should be in the 20/20 squad and not a reserve. Imran Nazir was born to play 20/20, so the logic to leave him out could be costly. The teams looks weaker less Malik, Younis, Tanvir, Rana, but Hafeez and Hammad look like great additions. The Akmal bros have been below par but lets see. All the best PKWC2010

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2010, 16:46 GMT

    Pakistan ka Khudaa Hafiz! but at least, one thing is done properly outside of this contract business: Afridi has been named captained of T20 WC. Could not have been a better choice.

  • MO on March 23, 2010, 12:20 GMT

    happiestdays85, Imran Nazir worst talent? you must be joking! Yes i agree he has been struggling lately, but 2020 only needs 1 good innings to get u going, for example look at afridi, struggled wid his batting till the semi finals of the recent 2020 world cup, and now he hasnt looked back batting wise as he is performing with the bat regularly. Imran Nazir is natural talent that does not come often, he has the ability to win games with his batting only. Pcb have not taken good care of him, lack of support does hurt once confidence

  • shahid on March 23, 2010, 11:53 GMT

    Today is 23rd march and a match is arranged between Pakistan and Pakistan A, and I can't find Naveed Yasin in any of the teams. Naved is one of those 5 reserves who are supposed to be cover ups for the selected 15. I see Naved Yasin as one of the futur stars and he has proved it through his superlative performances in this season but yet selectors are more inclined towards those who have been tried a dozen times in last 6 years and discarded every single time. Its the same foolish story ahen it comes to central kontracts. Imran Farhat and Faisal Iqbal are as usual taken care of but the deserving ones like Taufiq umar and Yasir Hamid are no where near. I am at loss to understand why Umar Akmal is placed above Fuad Alam. I wished Mohammad Irfan the tall fellow was awarded stipend and was given was placed in national academy. I mean just imagining a 7 feet tall bowling at 135 is worth putting your money on.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    ODI - 1. Salman Butt, 2. Kamran Akmal, 3. Umar Akmal, 4. Fawad Alam, 5. Misbah Ul-Haq, 6. Abdul Razzaq, 7. Shahid Afridi, 8. Mohammad Aamer, 9. Umar Gul, 10. Mohammad Asif, 11. Saeed Ajmal

    T20 - 1. Imran Nazir, 2. Kamran Akmal, 3. Umar Akmal, 4. Mohammad Hafeez, 5. Misbah-Ul-Haq, 6. Abdul Razzaq, 7. Shahid Afridi, 8. Mohammad Aamer, 9. Umar Gul, 10. Mohammad Asif, 11. Saeed Ajmal

    These are very easy, as Pakistan have good limited overs team. That is what the teams should be, with Rana, Khan, Yousuf and Malik banned. The batsmen Khaled Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Shahzaib Hasan, Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad should be picked, and bowlers Mohammad Sami, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Sohail Khan, Mansoor Amjad and Sohail Tanvir should also be chosen, as the reserves available. Yasir Arafat can make a nice allrounder depth.

    For limited overs, it must be young talent. No more backward step with Yasir Hameed, Asim Kamal, Imran Farhat, Faisal Iqbal, Abdul Rauf, Abdul Rehman, etc

  • ali on March 23, 2010, 2:18 GMT

    @DepressedthankstoPCB and other Imran Nazir fans: For God 's sake get over Imran Nazir. He is the worst batting talent to play for Pakistan. For the last decade now people like you have been saying the same thing over and over again and yet when he gets a chance, he fails miserably. We need solid batsmen and not players who according to him "have natural talent aur Chowkay Chikay naturally martay hain". A century or so in ICL doesn't make you a good player. Btw, I am a die hard pakistani fan....

  • Haider on March 22, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    ok ok hold on a sec wahab riaz abdul rehman wth man think wah happend to these players asim kamal shoaib akhtar MUHAMMED SAMI sohail tanvir imran nazir mansoor amjad saeed naizir nasir jamshed rao ifthikar why no contracts leaving imran nazir out of the world t20 ok u expect salmaan butt out of form to show a good opening stand u expect umer gul opening bowler to take wickets out of form

    how do u think that in odis the bans of yousuf younis rana malik will be a big blow

    wich experienced players remian do we expect afridi to bat for longer than 10 overs

    for me the best 11 pakistan squad in odi

    1.nasir jamshed/mohammed hafeez/salmaan butt/shazaib/ahmed shazad 2.misbah/some other experinced player cant be yousuf younis malik 3.umar akmal 4.fawad alam 5.afridi 6.razzaq 7.kamran 8.m.sami 9.umer gul/shoaib akhtar/m.asif 10.m.aamer 11.saeed ajmal/mansoor amjad

    i have 1 more concern who will be a good replacment for kamran akmal as keeper some1 like rashid latif

  • MO on March 22, 2010, 16:11 GMT

    My 11 for the 2020 would be as follows:

    1. Imran Nazir 2. Kamran Akmal 3. Umar Akmal 4. Misbah ul haq. 5 Shoaib Malik 6. Shahid Afridi (CAPT) 7. Abdul Razzaq 8. Mohammed Amir 9. Umar Gul. 10. Saeed Ajmal 11. Mohammad Asif

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    The worst decision that the PCB make is dropping imran nazir from the t20 world cup squad..he is the most dominant pakistan's opening batsmen right now can change the direction of the match any time when he goes..and its even worse when they're dropped rana naveed from the squad as well coz his batting has really improved and we need his powerful hitting in the lower order...and he can bowl some tight spells slow balls,reverse swinging yorkers..well thats a match winning t20 squad for me.. 1,imran nazir.2,kamran akmal.3,mohammed hafeez.4,umar akmal.5,fawad alam.6,shahid afridi.7,abdul razzaq.8,rana naveed.9,umar gul/mohammed amir.10,mohammed asif.11,saeed what everyone thinks about this squad..

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