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'Pakistan team in a transition' - chief selector

Umar Farooq

April 10, 2013

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Mohammad Irfan reacts after taking a wicket, South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Centurion, March 15, 2013
Mohammad Irfan's re-emergence as a strike bowler was the only bright spot in Pakistan's poor tour of South Africa © Associated Press
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Players/Officials: Iqbal Qasim
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Pakistan chief selector, Iqbal Qasim, said that the team was still undergoing a rebuilding process and what was perceived as an inconsistent selection policy was actually a "tactical move" to test young talent. While admitting that cricket in Pakistan was facing a crisis, Qasim said that the selectors were looking at grooming cricketers to help the side overcome a transition phase.

"Realistically, we do not have a quality pool of reserve players," Qasim said in an exclusive interview with ESPNcricinfo. "Most of the spots within the playing XI are not fixed and players are not doing enough to retain their place. We are giving them opportunities, but they have to raise the standard of their game and grab their chances. A good player doesn't wait for the second chance and we need players who can fill in for the best players at every slot."

Qasim said that handling a transition phase was difficult for all teams in cricket, irrespective of their past performances. "It happens everywhere, even Australia" he said. "We are trying to look for young cricketers, but the situation in domestic cricket is not encouraging. Critics talk about the inconsistent selection but the other side of the argument is that we have to try different combinations until we find the best prospects for Pakistan. Our job as selectors is to pick the best player and it is the player's job to hold on to his place by performing well."

Qasim's remarks about a transition phase come soon after Pakistan's disappointing tour to South Africa. They lost all matches of the three-Test series and while their performance improved in the one-dayers, it still wasn't good enough for them to win the series. The re-emergence of Mohammad Irfan, who still needs to work on his fitness, was the only positive from the tour.

The team has been known for world-class fast bowlers, such as Sarfaraz Nawaz, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. Pakistan have been struggling in recent times. Since Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, the Pakistan selectors have brought in 10 bowlers and only Junaid Khan and Irfan have established themselves as long-term prospects.

Similarly, in the batting line-up, the selectors have failed to find a prolific batsman in the mould of Mohammad Yousuf, although dozens of batsmen have been given chances. Two youngsters, Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq, have shown potential but they are yet to win a permanent place in the side.

Kamran Akmal has handled wicket-keeping responsibilities over the last five years, even as the selectors have tried Zulqarnain Haider, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Salman and Adnan Akmal. Kamran is considered the best wicket-keeper batsman for Pakistan in limited-overs cricket but the Test slot is still unsettled. The selectors recently identified Mohammad Rizwan from Peshawar as a prospect but the youngster is still waiting for a chance to prove his case.

"We want stability in a player's performance so that we can look at the long term," he said. "Unfortunately, they lack consistency and are neither helping us nor themselves. We have a great history of producing world-class players who ruled the world. We have to be patient and sooner or later, we will definitely have a greater depth of quality players in our system again. We have marked future prospects like Haris Sohail, Junaid Khan and Ehsan Adil and we are looking for quality players to fill each slot."

Qasim said his role was limited to selecting players, not developing them. He also said that the lack of international cricket in Pakistan was a setback. "Players aren't thriving. Playing domestic cricket is okay but they need exposure to international cricket at the Under-19 and A-team levels. This is how a player is developed for international cricket. We are picking a raw player who may have performed at the domestic level but has never been tested against quality teams around the world before being selected for the national team."

Pakistan are currently ranked No. 5 in ICC Test rankings, No. 6 in ODIs and No. 4 in T20Is. Their highest position in Tests came in 2007, when they made it to No. 3. Qasim was reluctant to predict whether the team would reach the No. 1 ranking . "I can't say whether we can achieve the No. 1 position with the players we have in the team, but I can be optimistic about it."

Pakistan recently dropped senior batsman Younis Khan and had also dropped Shahid Afridi from the ODIs in India last year. While Qasim said dropping a senior member was painful, there was no culture of a rotation policy in Pakistan.

"It doesn't fit here as players are insecure, they never would want to be rested," Qasim said. "The present crop of players are in rebuilding process and we are trying to form a good combination. We are in fact in no position to rotate players as the phenomena isn't feasible in our culture. Players start obsessing about their place rather than giving their best."

The selectors are currently facing the challenge of trimming down the 30-member list of probables for the Champions Trophy to 15. The same squad is expected to play the ODI series against Scotland and Ireland in May. Form and fitness are the major concerns for the selectors.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by keptalittlelow on (April 15, 2013, 13:40 GMT)

So much for the cry "there is no shortage of talent in Pakistan", I can't understand who they tried to fool? Yes it was great to see Pakistan beat the No.1 team England 3-0 in UAE, but it was down to two bowlers who were outstanding; even then the batting was poor. Pakistan needs to address the 'lack of talent' issue very seriously by abolishing politics from the game, and the high salaried PCB officials doing some real hard work for Pakistan Cricket. We have not found one quality batsman in the last ten years, quite frankly Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq are all mediocres, they are no Inzamam, Yusuf or Yunus, PCB must take the blame for this.

Posted by Crick_Expert on (April 13, 2013, 1:42 GMT)

PAK should have 3 different team for T20/ODI and TEST format, that it. PCB should give chance to young talented players first in T20 team then ODI. Keep experience players in TEST team only. All team CAPT should give free hands to pick best players for their side. TEST TEAM CAPT-Misbah ODI TEAM CAPT-Afridi T20 TEAM CAPT-Hafeez

Posted by Smiling on (April 12, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

Internal squabbling? None!!! It is simply politics interfering. Get the politicians/selectors who have no idea about cricket out and that means the business men who are interested in votes only. Pakistan have an awesome talent, in the young players coming up, in the 'district' teams...give cricket back to the cricket brains..but can you ever leave the egos out? For goodness sake, give cricket back to cricket everwhere and especially in Pakistan!

Posted by factoryard on (April 11, 2013, 18:45 GMT)

I'm an ardent pakistan cricket fan from the west indies. A lot of people has reasons to give why paskitan isn't performing to their best. Why don't you guys try making more lively pitches in pakistan. From the scores i see it's like anyone is making runs there.Good bowlers even ajmal is not looking good there. If the pitches are lively, yes it would be hard for the batsmen but they will get the right training for when they travel.

Posted by Saady1195 on (April 11, 2013, 15:47 GMT)

A selectors job is to find a quality player from the domestic circuit and put it him in the National Squad.I totally disagree with Iqbal Qasim's statement that Pakistan is not producing quality players.Sir,please look at the performances in the domestic cricket first,before releasing such a disappointing statement.There is this kid Hussain Talat,who is only 16 years old and is averaging 98+ in the ongoing domestic One day cup.We have so many youngsters performing (including Ahmed Shehzad,Harris Sohail,Mansoor Amjad,Sharjeel Khan,Umer Amin,Hammad Azam) but we still go with the oldies.And please stop blaming our youngsters as it will only hamper their performance. Regards, A true Pakistani Cricket Team's fan

Posted by   on (April 11, 2013, 15:39 GMT)

shahid afridi (7) kamran akmal (8) sohial tanveer (9) Ajmal (10) junaid (11) Irfan..

Posted by   on (April 11, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

Pakistan cricket selection committee and PCB itself will never amend its ways unless a cricketing professional who has the leadership abilities takes over to administer, sad after Imran Khan there hasnt been any leadership demonstrated both on and off the field. I'm shocked to read the comments of pin-pointing cricketers on who should be in the test and one day side. Rather the focus should be on the cricketing format and who suits the style of play. Again comment on my vivid memory of Sir Geoffrey Boycott commenting in ESPN or Star Sports 2000 on difference of test and one day format,and each player should be chosen on his playing merit, only then he gave example of shahid afridi not suitable for test format, rather than people commenting on their 11, and also having a different side for both the formats, now there are three formats to chose from and players should be selected and groomed for it, rather than giving them a chance to prove themselves and ponder which formats suits them

Posted by Hassan_U on (April 11, 2013, 11:08 GMT)

It saddens me to see how things are. Waqar was trying to build the team from Saga of 2010 but he came across EGO of Afridi. If the board was strong then Afridi should never been allowed back.

You have Rashid Latif who shows 100% passion for team but he is not allowed near PCB

We have Moin Khan and his Lahore Badshah were true T20 force yet again he is not in PCB.

Aqib Javed....during his team a bowling coach...Waqar and Aqib were getting the team back in to its tracks. Both had to go.

Yousuf was on top of his game but then thrown out for what reason.

Ijaz Ahmed said he although played 150+ ODI he always felt he may be dropped and had to perform. And he said now player play few game and think there never be dropped. So True you were.

:(

Posted by mtalhas on (April 11, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

@ getsetgopk..agree with you. I will add names of afridi and malik as well. I cant understand the logic of adding these two allrounders who cant bowl and take up the spot in middle order without contributing anything, specially when there is hafeez who is also in the same category by the way. I dont recall if currently any team is playing 3 mediocre allrounders, in fact it hardly happened in Pakistan before. Azhar Ali should be promoted as captain (he seems to be the next best man after Misbah).

@ Hassan_U..agree with you. I wish we could have the power house of 90s in running the affairs but it seems to be far from reality unless the old lads of PCB are willing to let this happen.

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