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‘Disappointed’ Shoaib Malik urges Babar Azam, team management to back players

Veteran all-rounder believes that selection criteria should be same for junior and senior players

PHOTO: AFP

Veteran Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik believes that players, whether they are junior or senior, should be backed by the captain and team management rather than pressing the panic button at the first sign of trouble.

In an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, Malik, who normally adopts a measured approached while talking to media, showcased his disappointment over the selection criteria and lack of consistent chances for players.   

“We should not panic after a player is not able to perform well for a few matches because it affects the entire team. A player should be given chances on a consistent basis inorder to produce consistent results. I know there is pressure from media but that can be handled, especially if you have played cricket, if you give them clarity about your selections. If you can’t back your players, then there is no point in stressing over poor results and drop in rankings,” said Malik.

“I normally don’t use harsh words but I’m disappointed to see that players are being judged on one or two matches, be it a youngster or a senior player. The rules should be the same for both, if they fulfil the criteria for selection. If a senior player has personal agendas and does not help young players in the dressing room, then he should not be part of the side even if he is performing really well. At the end of the day, then team should win and so there is no place for such compromises,” he added.

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Malik also believes that experience and a proper team combination is key to winning ICC events such as the ODI and T20 World Cups.

“I believe that a backup should be developed after the main team is ready. This team already has a lot of youngsters. The main goal is should be to win major ICC events which can only be done if the main team has experience. For instance, if we look at Babar Azam, who is one of our best players, he has only played around 70 ODIs in the last five years and if we expect to win the World Cup we need players with more experience under their belt,” he said. “We need to develop a pool of 20 to 22 players for the 2023 World Cup, as well as the next two T20 World Cups, and persist with them until the mega event against all the teams we face.”

He also highlighted the strategy of former Pakistan captains with regards to inclusion of young players in the side.

“If there is an exceptional talent that comes up, that player should be given an opportunity but only after you have won the series. I have played under the captaincy of Wasim [Akram] bhai, Waqar [Younis] bhai, Moin [Khan] bhai and Inzamam bhai and all of them adopted the same approached successfully,” he said.

The Sialkot-born also urged Babar Azam to become a strong leader and back his players, while also stressing on naming the captain for a longer duration.

“If your selection committee and management can get contracts for two or three years, then why not the captain?” he said. “My advice for Babar is that he shouldn’t compromise on certain things because he is the one who will be leading the side on the field. If he will back the players, then the team will produce good results and the same players will back the captain. He needs to be strong as a captain and his performances are such that he can improve Pakistan’s cricket.” 

He also praised the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for starting the domestic season and convincing Zimbabwe to tour Pakistan despite Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is a great achievement for the Pakistan Cricket Board to hold the event during Covid-19 and successfully implement the SOPs,” he said. “Later Zimbabwe’s team will also tour Pakistan, which is also a good news for Pakistan cricket.”

He also backed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision with regards to changes in domestic cricket structure.

“This [changes in domestic cricket structure] is not my domain and I’m sure PM Imran has a vision and we need to help him in this process,” he said.

FULL INTERVIEW