Wasim says Babar happy with squad
Former Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq was involved in the selection process of the Pakistan squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim has said.
Wasim said reports that captain Babar Azam was unhappy with the selection of some players are not true as well. “The standard procedures were followed and the inputs of Babar Azam and even Misbah-ul-Haq were taken into account,” Wasim told SAMAA TV.
Misbah, along with bowling coach Waqar Younis, resigned from his post hours after the Pakistan squad was announced last Monday.
Reports had revealed last week that incoming Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja had replaced four players of Babar’s choice — Sharjeel Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf and Usman Qadir with those of his own —Azam Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah.
According to SAMAA sources, Ramiz communicated this to the skipper during a meeting with him and some other senior players at the National High Performance Centre in Lahore.
Wasim said Ramiz did meet the players and gave them directions on the style of cricket that he wants Pakistan to adopt, but he did not have any involvement in the selection of the squad, which will also play in the upcoming Twenty-20 International series against New Zealand and England.
“Only the squad list was shared with Ramiz after the selection,” said the selector.
The inclusion of middle-order batsmen Asif and Azam received heavy criticism from fans and experts, especially due to them being considered over more experienced contenders.
Azam, who also keeps wickets, was favoured over former Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Wasim said though Sarfraz brings with him experience, Azam is one for the future. “A senior pro should be featuring in the playing eleven,” Wasim said. “The bench suits players who can play for Pakistan in the future,” he added.
Making a point that the squad was selected considering the teams Pakistan are going to come across during the T20 World Cup and the playing conditions in the United Arab Emirates, Wasim said players’ past performances are not always the top criteria for selection.
“Performance factor sometimes need to be ignored and you’ve to give more heed to your plan for the upcoming tournament. You’ve to select according to the opponents and the playing conditions,” said Wasim.
He said none of the shortlisted middle-order batsmen had performances that stood out. Therefore, Azam was given an opportunity, he added. “Azam has not got enough chances in the past to be judged on his performance.”
The chief selector revealed that veteran all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez were competing for one spot, but the latter was comparatively a better choice and therefore picked for the T20 World Cup, which starts October 17.
He said opener Sharjeel Khan was not selected because of his lack in versatility. “Sharjeel can only play as an opener,” Wasim said. “We needed players whose slot in the batting order can be changed according to different situations.” Pakistan play New Zealand in three One-day Internationals and five T20Is from September 17 to October 3 in Rawalpindi and Lahore. The national side then host England for two T20Is in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14 before they fly to the UAE for the T20 World Cup.