PCB denies withdrawing Naseem Shah from U19 squad over age issue

The Board had rechecked and verified ages of all potential members of the Pakistan U19 side

PCB denies withdrawing Naseem Shah from U19 squad over age issue PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) rejects the impression in a section of the media which suggests that fast-bowler Naseem Shah had been withdrawn from the Pakistan U19 squad for this month’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup due to concerns over his actual age.

The PCB, as part of its standard operating procedures, had rechecked and verified ages of all potential members of the Pakistan U19 side in November before selecting the squad on December 6, 2019 subsequent to which Naseem was named in the side after he met the ICC age eligibility criteria for the tournament, which was set at 1 September 2000.

The PCB, as stated in its announcement on December 31, had clarified that Naseem had been withdrawn from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup on the request of the Pakistan men’s senior team management purely on cricketing reasons.

“The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is a stepping stone for future stars and a platform for budding youngsters to graduate to international cricket. Naseem has recently broken that glass ceiling and has established his credentials as an international cricketer,” said PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan in a press release. “As such, the PCB has taken a pragmatic approach and decided to withdraw him from next year’s competition to provide this opportunity to another promising cricketer so that he can show his mettle and potential at a global stage."

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U19 head coach Ijaz Ahmed was in favour of playing Shah in the U19 World Cup. He had insisted that the young pacer would be brought on during the knockout stages of the tournament which would not put too much pressure on the young speedster.

However, the selection committee under the current head coach-cum-chief selector Misbahul Haq believed that the tournament could put an extra workload on Shah which could result in fitness issues. Playing him before the series against Bangladesh had been deemed as a risky venture.

The young pacer played an integral role in Pakistan’s Test victory against Sri Lanka at the National Stadium in Karachi by taking five wickets. The U19 World Cup is scheduled to be played from January 17 to February 9 in South Africa.