Having waited for eight months to be able to pick Saeed Ajmal in a Test match, Pakistan's selectors have decided that they can afford to wait a little longer.

Is this the end for him? It would be unseemly, even by PCB standards, to ditch a man who has won so many matches for his country after he has toiled so hard to win back his international career at an age when he could just as easily have given up.

But this is Saeed Ajmal. He's a main attraction, not a side show. If he's not in the team, what is he doing there? Would you invite Usain Bolt to join your athletics squad, then ask him to sit out the 100 metres? Perhaps you would if you'd discovered midway through the tour that Usain wasn't quite as fast as he used to be.

The old Ajmal, the Ajmal that once had Ian Bell waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night in a Dubai hotel room, picked himself.

His method was distinctive. It began with a quick survey of the field and a smile. This was followed by a Warne-lite amble to the wicket, and then the first indication of menace: a melodramatic pause, a half-second in which the batsman's wilder fears were stirred, long enough for all those subconscious nightmares to rise up, long enough to feel the chill of dread. If Saeed had a moustache, that was the moment when he might have twirled it.

So what has the ICC done to him? Saeed himself said it was torture. Perhaps they went a little Clockwork Orange on him: tying him a dentist's chair, taping his eyes open and forcing him to watch one tidy James Tredwell spell after another, for hours on end.

But whatever horrors he was exposed to in Room 101 of the ICC correction facility, this Ajmal seems a weak imitation of the old Ajmal. He's like a magician, who, for health and safety reasons, is forbidden from performing his best trick, and so is reduced to pulling the same dove out of the same top hat in front of an increasingly bored audience.

Sadly for Saeed, it seems that Pakistan can manage without him. They beat Australia in the autumn by piling up the runs on flat pitches and grinding their opponents down. It's the Misbah blueprint, and it works more often than it fails.

In fact, Misbah, not Saeed, is Pakistan's defining influence. If Misbah and his one-time rival Shahid Afridi represent the yin and yang of Pakistan cricket: the passive, calculating, grinding style versus an instinctive faith in flamboyant, reckless brilliance, then there's no doubt which force has prevailed. Pakistan cricket has been well and truly Misbah-ised. There is very little Afridi in their play, indeed, even when he is actually in the team, given his penchant for pointless cameos, there's still very little Afridi in it.

Yet in a few months, Misbah will be gone, as will Saeed, Younis Khan, and Zulfiqar Babar. Mohammad Hafeez turns 35 this year. The series success over Australia was not so much a new dawn as a twilight triumph. The selection of the one-day international and T20 teams showed typical end-of-an-era tinkering; a confusion of half-ideas, all of them heavily influenced by the prevailing orthodoxy of Misbah-ism.

But change, when it comes, will be dramatic. Pakistan don't do transition. Revolution is more their style. The post-Misbah era promises a return of Pakistani cricket's mojo, a tilting of the balance in favour of thrilling, enterprising cricket, in which a fiery Wahab Riaz will lead the attack, supported by Rahat Ali, the legspin of Yasir Shah, and the eventual return of the prodigal son, one Mohammed Amir, from the wilderness. It could be fun.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. @hughandrews73