PCB selector hits back at charges of bias

Shahid Afridi was in high spirits before facing Australia Associated Press

Mohsin Khan, the PCB's chief selector, has reacted strongly after the board was accused of being biased against players from Karachi by the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), with regards to the ongoing Test series against England. "The England-bound squad was selected after thorough deliberation with coach and the captain, hence putting the blame solely on me is a bit unjust. On top of all the captain of the squad (Shahid Afridi) was from Karachi and had a big say in the team selection", Khan told the news channel News One TV.

The players in the current Pakistan squad are predominantly from one province, Punjab, and the accusations reflect a growing disquiet over the failure to put together a "representative team" for the series. The KCCA had named Sarfraz Ahmed, Khurram Manzoor, Khalid Latif, Faisal Iqbal and Asad Shafiq - all Karachi cricketers - as among those who were ignored by the selection committee. Mohsin said apart from Afridi, Danish Kaneria and Tanvir Ahmed from Karachi, were part of the squad but the selectors could not be blamed for their non-inclusion in the playing eleven.

"Shahid Afridi resigned after the very first Test match; Kaneria's performance was not up to the mark and was released by the tour management to regain his form while Tanvir was not provided with an opportunity as there was no room in presence of Amir, Asif and Gul," Mohsin said.

Mohsin added that several youngsters, including those from Karachi, had been considered for the tour but the selectors eventually settled on Umar Amin and Azhar Ali. "Batting in England has never been easy for Pakistan hence Azhar Ali was unanimously picked due to his decent technique, which is essential in English conditions. We were told that Naveed Yasin was nursing an injury hence he was not considered; a lengthy discussion was held on Umar Amin and upon the insistence of coach and captain, he was included in the squad. Faisal Iqbal was also discussed but the captain was of the view that his performance had been inconsistent as he had only scored one century in 44 innings."

Meanwhile the KCCA reiterated its criticism on Wednesday at a press conference in Karachi. "A number of talented cricketers from Karachi have been neglected," Khalil Nanitalwala, vice-president of the KCCA said. "The team's recent showings in England prove that merit was not followed in team selection.

"Kaneria was ousted after not being able to perform well in the first Test which is quite unprecedented and a blow to Karachi cricket. Karachi's Asad Shafiq was among the top run-getters in the last domestic season, while Khurram Manzoor, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Sami, Fawad Alam and a number of other players also deserved places in the team."

Nanitalwala said the KCCA has been protesting with the PCB over the issue but decided to go public only after the board took no notice.