Former players lambast non-consultative selection
The manner and nature of Pakistan's squad selection for this summer's tour to England has come under fire from members of the selection committee itself, who are unhappy with the Twenty20 and Test squad, claiming they weren't consulted over the composition.
The squads were announced on Sunday by the board after a meeting between chairman of selectors Mohsin Khan, coach Waqar Younis, manager Yawar Saeed and captain Shahid Afridi in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, where the Asia Cup is underway. Cricinfo understands that the remaining selectors in Pakistan were not involved or consulted at all in the choices.
A couple of key inclusions in particular - the recall of Yasir Hameed and Wahab Riaz and the overlooking of Younis Khan and Mohammad Sami - seem to have irked the selectors who are thought to have been against the decisions had they been consulted. The snub from the chief selector has led at least one of the selectors to ponder handing in his resignation.
One of the selectors claims he wasn't contacted until just before the announcement was made and that too only to be asked about the statistics of a player under consideration. The chief selector, it is claimed, wasn't prepared enough in the first place to make the selections. Mohsin, still in Sri Lanka, has not spoken to the media yet about the squad.
The squads' composition has also been criticised for lacking experience, particularly in the batting; the overlooking of Younis is a case in point. Banned indefinitely in the aftermath of the Australia tour, Younis was one of several players whose punishments were subsequently overturned on appeal.
But over the last couple of weeks the sense has emerged that the board will not let him back in unless he apologises for what they deem to be his mistakes, as the other returnees have done. Ijaz Butt, chairman of the board, said last week that Younis's return would require clearance from the board, an issue that wasn't deemed to be an issue at all with Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi and the Akmal brothers.
"I feel Younis has been victimised," Iqbal Qasim, the former chief selector who resigned from the post in February after the Australia tour, said. "He fought his case and was outspoken against the treatment and was dropped."
The absence of Younis and Mohammad Yousuf - who retired from international cricket in protest at his indefinite ban - from the 17-man Test squad robs an already fragile batting side of their two most experienced and successful Test batsman. The pair have scored nearly 30% of Pakistan's Test runs since October 2004 and almost half their Test hundreds.
Even with the pair Pakistan have crossed 300 in a Test innings only 11 times in their last 30 attempts. Now the most experienced batsman in the middle order in their absence is Malik, who has played 29 Tests without fully cementing his spot in the side and is not a certain Test starter in any case. Imran Farhat, with 33 Tests, is the most experienced specialist batsman in the squad.
Javed Miandad, director general and regular critic of the board, was also left asking questions about the selection and the manner of it. "An England tour is always a difficult one and we're playing good teams," he told Geo News. "The conditions are such that you need experience because even they will be troubled, so new, inexperienced players also struggle. In the middle order there is no one to play a Test match innings. One or two experienced guys were necessary for the balance of the side, but apparently even the selectors here didn't know about the team."
Miandad said he would brief the patron of the PCB, President Asif Ali Zardari, on the matter. "The president is a cricket lover, he encouraged me to take up the job in the PCB for the betterment of the game," he said. "He must know what's wrong in the PCB."
Former captain Rashid Latif said that, along with Younis, Sami, Faisal Iqbal and Khurram Manzoor also deserved a place in the squad. "I respect the selection but four players - Younis, Sami, Iqbal and Manzoor - deserved places in the team," said Latif.