Some Pakistan ‘A’ players will be ready for national duty soon: Basit

Lahore—Basit Ali, the head coach of the England-bound Pakistan ‘A’ team, has pledged to produce at least half a dozen players who could be playing for the senior national side in the next six months.
Speaking to media persons before leaving for Manchester with the squad, the former Pakistan batsman hoped the upcoming fixtures against Sri Lanka ‘A’ and England Lions could be keenly fought.
“Basically, these [second-string] tours worldwide, generally provide ground for those players who are knocking on the doors of top-level cricket,” Basit said.
“There are a number of instances in other countries when budding youngsters make a name for themselves while representing ‘A’ sides against good opposition.
“Mark my words, some of them will be ready for the senior selection within the next six months. If we are able to have six or seven players ready for top [international] cricket from the upcoming series of matches against Sri Lanka ‘A’ and England Lions, then I would consider myself as a successful coach.
“I regard playing good cricket much more than winning or losing. Therefore, we are collectively focusing on giving a good account of ourselves in the coming weeks for which we have trained hard in the recent camp held in Lahore,” the 45-year-old added.
Pakistan ‘A’ will be led by the immensely talented young batsman Babar Azam with all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz as his vice-captain. The squad also includes paceman Bilawal Bhatti, the solitary player in the ranks with Test match experience.
Explosive opener Sharjeel Khan, one of the few successes of Pakistan’s woeful World Twenty20 campaign in India earlier this year, is expected to shoulder a lot of responsibility on the upcoming tour.
Fakhar Zaman, the gifted left-hander, will be vying for the one of opening berths alongside the technically sound former Pakistan Under-19 representative Jaahid Ali.
Basit was all praise for chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq for picking a strong and well-balanced squad.
“In my view, Inzamam and company [fellow selectors Tauseef Ahmed, Wajahatullah Wasti and Wasim Haider] have done a very good job by relying on those players who are not just capable but have the talent to play for the senior Pakistan side in the not-too-distant future,” Basit commented.
“As a coach in domestic competitions, my intention has always been to produce future stars of Pakistan cricket. As a former player my philosophy is to give back what Pakistan has given me during the time I played.
“This exactly should be the spirit of all former players who have played for the country in the past. The youngsters not only need guidance but also require the appropriate platform and direction to showcase the talent within. As a coach, my job is to motivate them and ensure they perform to their potential.”
Former Pakistan skipper Inzamam, while announcing the squad last month, laid emphasis on the importance of the ‘A’ series with the senior national side also touring England concurrently.
The chief selector has already declared his intention to watch Pakistan ‘A’ in action during the tour to keep eye on some players who could be inducted into the Test squad in case of any emergency.
Despite the importance being attached to the ‘A’ tour, the Pakistan Cricket Board, curiously enough, has probably missed the key element when naming team officials by not appointing a fielding coach for the June 23-July 26 tour.
Both Pakistan ‘A’ and Sri Lanka ‘A’, who are being captained by international Ashan Priyanjan, open their tours simultaneously with four-day fixtures against Yorkshire and Durham respectively, starting from Sunday (June 26) before facing each other in two four-day internationals with the first game due to take place at Leicester from July 3 and second at Worcester from July 10.
The two teams will be then joined by England Lions in a six-match triangular one-day series from July 18 to 25 with each side playing a total of four games.
Pakistan ‘A’ squad: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Nawaz (vice-captain), Sharjeel Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Jaahid Ali, Umar Siddique, Saud Shakeel, Abdul Rehman Muzammil, Mohammad Hasan (wicket-keeper), Bilawal Bhatti, Mir Hamza, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Azizullah, Mohammad Asghar, Shadab Khan.—Agencies

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