URDU

Case of missing Fawad for Australia Tests

Left-handed batsman was not picked by the selection committee despite good performances in domestic cricket

PHOTO: AFP

When Misbahul Haq played his last Test for Pakistan, he was just 14 days shy of turning 43, but Fawad Alam at 32 is too old to play for Pakistan and the team needs young blood rather than timeworn artefacts, as per the current and all other coaches of the past.

Alam, with the experience of 149 first-class matches and 11,000-plus runs scored at an average of 55.77, cannot replace Imamul Haq (39 first-class matches, 44.48 average and only 2,060 runs) or Usman Salahuddin (103 first-class matches, 44.40 average and 6,573 runs) in the squad — but why bother? He hasn’t been able to do that since 2009, when he played his last Test for Pakistan.

When Misbah and his partner in crime Younus Khan left Pakistan’s Test fray, team stumbled and dwindled, yearning for experience and maturity in the middle-order.

Alam, with a temperament which Younus believed in and a technique, as per his critics too defensive for ODIs and T20Is but perfect for Tests, was and should have been the order of the day for the longer format, but let’s not discuss that, because he has aged.

Let’s try one more stat. Alam is the only player in the top-50 of highest career averages in first-class cricket, right under one of India’s great Rahul Dravid, at the number 31 position. The second Pakistani in the list is legendary Javed Miandad, at the number 51 position, with an average of 53.37 in 402 matches.

Sri Lanka drubbing in two-Test series was an eye-opener for Pakistan. The then Sri Lanka captain may have called it a Shamanic blessing, but it was more a miscalculation by Pakistani selectors, or to be frank mere stupidity.

However, one who learns from his mistakes is smart and one who doesn’t is a Pakistani selector.

But why are we talking about Alam? He’ll never make it to the international team, because he’s old, four years older than 27-year-old, but young Salahuddin.

Also, he’s too slow, too conventional for limited-overs cricket, because he can’t hit big, bigger than Mohammad Nawaz and Faheem Ashraf do when they clear the boundary with utter ease and on so many occasions; he’s done and dusted, he is out, for good, forever!

Wait what? He can bowl too? Again, no one cares!

Amir rested or dropped?

Comical is the words which comes to mind when one looks at chief selector Inzamamul Haq-selected squad for the series against Australia in the UAE.

Mohammad Amir was struck out of the squad because of his undoing since Champions Trophy, more recently at the Asia Cup, but another important absentee was Junaid Khan who brought the much-needed flare with the new ball in the Bangladesh loss.

Mohammad Hafeez was once again left out  when he has time and again proved to thrive in the UAE conditions, a clear message seems to be sent to him that you can’t cross the line or mess with the board. He might be in Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup plans, as per Inzamam, but he is nowhere to be seen in their current plans since he now has seen board and team management’s back on three occasions — selected but snubbed against Zimbabwe, and then kept out of Asia Cup squad and the Test squad against Australia.

Lastly, credit should be given to the selection committee for finally realising captain Sarfraz needs backup in his position as Mohammad Rizwan was called into the squad. If they were proactive and would’ve done that earlier, the Asia Cup disaster might have been averted, but well, it is never too late.

Last time Australia visited the UAE, Pakistan came out on top with a 2-0 victory, but the Kangaroos returned the favour when the Men in Green went Down Under and came back after a 3-0 drubbing.

Come October 7, a new-look side Australian side will face a confidence-lacking Pakistan, and it might not be fireworks, but it will also not be easy outing for any team — especially the hosts.