Sahil Dutta is assistant editor of Cricinfo
PSL 2024 (3)
NZ v AUS (1)
SL v AFG (1)
WCL 2 (1)
BPL 2024 (2)
As England's one-day team triumphed 2-1 over South Africa, Owais Shah was left marooned in London. He had been dropped two games after a sensational 98 from 89 balls against South Africa in the Champions Trophy, and on the back of two years in which he has scored more one-day runs, hit more fifties and struck more sixes than anyone else in the country.
Shah thinks it's an injustice that can't be explained by the reasons given to him by the selectors. "I was told I'm not consistent enough," he said during an npower event at Lord's. "But I've scored more runs than anyone else so that can't be right. There's got to be more which I haven't been told about."
Given England's recent success and the fact that Shah, now 31, has played 71 times for his country in 50-over cricket over the best part of a decade, it will surely be difficult for him to force his way back into the side.
Since the Champions Trophy, Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook have come into the squad while Kevin Pietersen has returned from injury as well. Though Trott has started solidly, opening with Andrew Strauss, Shah thinks the top order lacks match-winning quality, and is adamant that his ability to clear the ropes brings a dynamism missing from the current set-up. In that Centurion tour de force, he struck five sixes in the space of 13 balls.
"I'm a lot more destructive than the guys who have come in at my expense," he said. "I'm a six-hitter, as you saw in the Champions Trophy. And sure, there are players in England who can get runs but it's all about how you get runs. I don't believe there are enough players in that line-up who can change the game. They can get runs, but it's all about changing the game, scoring against tough opposition. I believe I can offer that compared to the other players."
The lack of decisiveness is something Shah says hampers England's Test team as well, compared with sides such as India. "If you look at the best teams in the world, they have players who score really big runs, destructive runs and really nail the opposition.
"Pietersen apart, we don't have those sorts of players. If you look at India, you have players like Yuvraj [Singh] batting at six, he's one of the most destructive players in the world. It's a question of how we want to play our cricket. It's how those guys play their cricket and they're the No.1 team in the world."
Shah has been asked to play in a variety of positions during his career for England - batting as low as seven and as high as three. He cites this lack of stability as a reason why he has not scored as many runs as people might have expected.
"Every player just wants some consistency and I just find if it's constantly changing you don't have a role. I flirted with No. 3 but it was never set in stone - one series I was batting here and another there. It's just like, leave me in one position and let me deliver a role."
It's something Shah hopes his Middlesex team-mate Eoin Morgan can avoid as he tries to establish himself in England's team. "I just hope they don't mess him around like other players have been messed around, saying go there, go here. I hope he gets left alone at six to deliver his role."
While Shah has been a victim of England's muddled approach to one-day cricket, he has not helped himself by being involved in a series of run outs. His critics suggest it points to a wider problem with his temperament.
Yet Shah has no qualms with his running and feels the issue has been blown out of proportion. "I am comfortable with my running, but saying that, I am human, I do make mistakes and I will get run out," he said. "There are nine ways to get out; one of them is run out."
One of the most striking aspects of England's recent revival has been their fielding, and by leaving out Shah, alongside cumbersome movers like Ryan Sidebottom, the management have sent a clear message that poor fielders will not feature in England's one-day outfits.
While Shah accepts he is not the sharpest mover, he does not see his fielding as a big problem. "Of course I am not the quickest, I'm no Paul Collingwood, but there are places you can field where it's not difficult. I'll happily hold my own in the field. And let me tell you, Virender Sehwag is not the best fielder in the world."