Selectors too busy with district trials to focus on national team


LAHORE: While local media has been claiming that the out-of-favour trio of Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik would stage a comeback in the national team against the upcoming home series against Zimbabwe later this month, sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) disclosed that not a single session of the national selection committee could be held so far as the selectors are busy with district level trials in different parts of the country.

Chief selector Haroon Rashid is in Colombo these days to watch the players of the Pakistan-A team there while it is sheer bad timing that the rest of the national selectors, rather than analysing the under-par show of the national team and planning for the Zimbabwe series ahead, are busy in holding insignificant trials at the district level.

“The selection committee could not hold even a single formal or informal session to analyse the team’s poor show in Bangladesh or looking at the team composition for the Zimbabwe series,” a PCB official confirmed to Dawn while speaking on condition of anonymity.

PCB over-cautious for Zimbabwe series

“This is a result of bad management that no one can make the selectors focus on important issues at this time. In fact, various lobbies of some of the discarded cricketers are more active these days to get their candidates back in the national side which is a trend so synonymous with Pakistan cricket,” he said.

Both Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal were sidelined from the tour of Bangladesh over disciplinary issues in the last World Cup-2015. Interestingly, no disciplinary committee was formed to assess their conduct in the World Cup and to penalise them and they were quietly sidelined by the PCB. Now once again, the same set of players are likely to sneak in from the back door for the upcoming Zimbabwe series.

Meanwhile, the series against Zimbabwe is of huge importance for Pakistan but it also has its positive sides as well as the negative ones.

The Zimbabwe cricket team will be the first Test team to visit Pakistan in more than six years since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009.

While it may help Pakistan to revive international cricket here, a loss in the series could have serious repercussions on Pakistan’s ranking in international cricket.

After losing all three ODIs to Bangladesh and slipping down to a worst ever 9th place in the ICC ODI rankings with just 87 points, Pakistan have little or no chance of qualifying for the Champions Trophy.

Both Bangladesh and the West Indies with 88 points each are currently in a better position to qualify for the ICC event.

The cut-off date for qualifying is Sept 30, 2015 and upto that period, Pakistan will have to play eight ODIs including three against Zimbabwe and five against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.

If Pakistan now loses the series or even a single match to Zimbabwe, it will lose more points and that will make it almost impossible for them to qualify for the Champions Trophy which will be a huge embarrassment for them. The only glimmer of hope left for them will be to beat Sri Lanka in July with a clear margin twhich appears highly unlikely in view of the national team’s present form in the ODIs.

“Yes the series against Zimbabwe is a challenging one for the PCB in many aspects — first to hold it in a smooth way and then to avoid any defeat,” the PCB official admitted. “But hopefully our all injured players will be fit in time to meet the challenges against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka to keep our chances for the Champions Trophy alive,” he added.

It is also quite odd that the ICC has set Sept 30, 2015 as the cut-off date for qualification of the Champions Trophy which will be in 2017. It is ridiculous to have an early deadline like that since no one can really guess how the world cricket teams will fare on the rankings two years from now. In stark contrast, the FIH which is international hockey’s governing body, is holding the qualifying round for the Rio Olympics-2016 in June this year, just one year before the mega event.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe security team is due on Wednesday (today) to visit the Gaddafi Stadium, the venue for all the five matches (three ODIs and two T20) and to assess other security arrangements.

Though the ICC has declared the series an international one, in many aspects the international standards are not being followed for the contest while the PCB’s over-cautious approach towards it could send the wrong kind of signals to other cricketing nations. Firstly, the ICC has refrained from sending its own match-officials on security grounds and local umpires and match referees are being appointed by the PCB for the series.

Moreover, all the five matches are being held in just one city while there are plans to accommodate the Zimbabwe team at the National Cricket Academy near the Gaddafi Stadium instead of a five-star hotel which are not very positive signs.


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