Glaring omissions and commissions
THE Independence and Pakistan Day are occasions every year when personalities with continued achievements and rare accomplishments are honoured and conferred with National Awards; an occasion which the expectants eagerly and anxiously await, and also sometimes end up disappointed.
The Honours conferred on the 23rd of March as usual included some exceptionally merited recipients such as Humayun Saeed the actor and Ali Zafar the songster among the showbiz, Ahmad Faraz the Poet with an incisive pen and thoughts, along with others not so well known.
But it was painful to see some glaring omissions such as Babar Azam and Hafeez among cricketers against whom one has found a lobby including some sports anchors consistently at work.
A near disaster in team selection for the World T20 Cup only a week away has somewhat been averted, but leaving out the devastating opener Sharjeel and seasoned all-rounder Shoaib Malik is still a riddle.
The only two batters in the current Pakistan T20 line up for the big event with consistent performances and exuding confidence are their mercurial Skipper Babar Azam and gritty wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan besides an experienced all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez who has delivered at many occasions and led Pakistan in the past.
Looking at the rest of the squad one notices some glaring commissions and omissions in the view of ardent fans of the game watching closely.
Omissions first; if performances, technique and fitness were to be any yardstick, dropping Sharjeel and keeping Fakhar Zaman among reserves was simply mind-boggling, as the two given their day, could amass runs in such rapid time that they would set the tone for their team’s win in the very initial power play; something termed a pre-requisite in T20 as it affords little time to recoup after a disastrous start.
While I write this piece Sharjeel Khan who should be a tailor-made opener for both the T20 and ODI formats, and has a score of 152 to his credit in an ODI recently, has confounded the selectors for his omission by posting a ton for his home side Sindh against Southern Punjab in the current National T20 Tournament.
I feel that Sharjeel Khan whose shot selection is near perfect could further improve his skills by trimming himself a bit garnering even better reflexes for timing of his shots, but his current form and tons of runs both in domestic and International Cricket, simply cannot be ignored.
Although after Imran Khan’s interaction with the announced squad advising review, some damage control has been effected, it was preposterous for a seasoned campaigner like Aqib Javed to find fault in revising the squad which according to his queer logic would make a laughing stock of Pakistani Cricket.
As a matter of fact the selectors deserve a sack for making such erratic omissions and commissions. One seriously questions the Selectors for some glaring omissions while including Asif Ali, a consistently failing batsman in the middle order and Azam Khan as a batter-cum 2nd Wicket-keeper in the first place.
His only strength being power-hitting, not only is his shot selection still very immature but his disproportionate bulk alone should have disqualified him from this level of cricket as this handicap alone has badly affected his reflexes behind the stumps besides poor shot-selection.
Sarfraz Ahmad as the 2nd wicket-keeper batsman would have been the most natural choice, who to my mind was done a bad turn over-burdening him with Captaincy of all three formats, which is never done. But better late than never, his timely inclusion is quite welcome.
And as I was about to mention omission of Haider Ali a promising recent discovery, his inclusion was also announced which he should have celebrated with back to back fifties in the National T20 Championship but fell short by 13 runs of a fifty in his last Friday outing scoring 37.
And whereas there is a beeline of ignored batting performances among promising youngsters, it was also baffling how Shahnawaz Dhani a sensational and thinking pacer who being leading wicket-taker in the recently concluded PPL Season was denied international exposure against foreign Teams in bilateral series, could have been ignored in the playing Eleven for the T20 World Cup while including no specialist spinner except Usman Qadira long with pacer Dhani and batter Khushdil Shah among reserves.
Frankly, the performance of late of the much hyped spinning all-rounders Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz, should also have come under scrutiny as none of them have performed effectively against potent foreign opposition; not even against mediocre bowling and batting standards at home in the T20 format of the game.
For the record, barring their occasional spurts of brilliance, their performance indicators do not support their inclusion.
Shadab made Vice Captain, has batting average of 15, and taken 58 wickets in 53 matches at economy rate of 7.40, Nawaz with batting average of 11.6 has taken 20 wickets in 24 ODIs at economy rate of 7.06 and Imad Waseem averaging 13 as a batter has 51 wickets in 52 matches conceding 6.4 runs per wicket.
Dropping seasoned Shoaib Malik who at 40 is still running like a hare, diving for catches and saving runs, has invariably come good as a match winning batsman even though batting down the order, and contributing as a rated all-rounder again beats all reason and logic; more so when in a big event like the World Cup, performing experience contributes immensely to the team morale.
It would in any case have been a great swan song for the great batter having aggregated over 11000 thousand runs internationally in the three formats; 2335 runs alone in T20s at a robust average of 31.13, and taken 28 wickets in 48 matches at an economy rate of 7.08 but compensating it with his outstanding fielding and catching.
Before it is too late, it is time for someone correct at least the two glaring omissions of Sharjeel, and Shoaib who if nothing else, deserves a decent swan song when in top gear towards the end of his career, not to talk of medium pacer Roman Raees who has just completed a hat-trick returning to International Cricket after a debilitating injury which almost signalled end of his career.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.