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Qasim remains doubtful about Pakistan’s chances of becoming the number one side in any of the three formats
Almost no player will ever admit that his team is experiencing a turbulent transition period, however, in the case of Pakistan, chief selector Iqbal Qasim has come clean and admitted that the team are facing some difficulties after having dropped several senior players for talented youngsters.
Qasim also revealed that he believed the selection policy had become extremely inconsistent and that Pakistan needed to groom more youngsters in order to have a decent pool of reserves should one of the regular players fall victim to injury or experience a rough patch.
“Realistically, we do not have a quality pool of reserve players,” Qasim said in an exclusive interview with ESPNcricinfo. “Most of the spots within the playing XI are not fixed and players are not doing enough to retain their place. We are giving them opportunities, but they have to raise the standard of their game and grab their chances. A good player doesn’t wait for the second chance and we need players who can fill in for the best players at every slot.”
However, even though Qasim has admitted that Pakistan are facing a few problems, he stated that transitional periods are one of the toughest times for any international team.
“It happens everywhere, even Australia” he said. “We are trying to look for young cricketers, but the situation in domestic cricket is not encouraging. Critics talk about the inconsistent selection but the other side of the argument is that we have to try different combinations until we find the best prospects for Pakistan. Our job as selectors is to pick the best player and it is the player’s job to hold on to his place by performing well.”
Pakistan have adopted the simple trial and error method when giving all the new batsmen and bowlers a chance to show their worth.
Since the spot-fixing scandal of 2010, where Pakistan lost their pace duo of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, 10 other bowlers have been experimented with, but only Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan seem to have a long-term future in the side.
Pakistan’s batting department has experienced the exact same thing, with Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq being the only two batsmen to have shown any potential whatsoever.
Things are so bad for Pakistan right now that they have not been able to secure a permanent wicketkeeper over the past few years.
Everyone from Kamran Akmal to Zulqarnain Haider, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Salman and Adnan Akmal have been given trials, but as of right now the national selectors have chosen to stick with Kamran Akmal.
However, Akmal may not last long as Peshawar’s Mohammad Rizwan has been identified as an exceptional talent who is destined to represent Pakistan in the near future.
“We want stability in a player’s performance so that we can look at the long term,” Qasim said. “Unfortunately, they lack consistency and are neither helping us nor themselves. We have a great history of producing world-class players who ruled the world. We have to be patient and sooner or later, we will definitely have a greater depth of quality players in our system again. We have marked future prospects like Haris Sohail, Junaid Khan and Ehsan Adil and we are looking for quality players to fill each slot.”
Qasim also pointed out that the lack of cricket matches in Pakistan was not only having a negative impact on the national team, but the Pakistan A squad and domestic sides as well.
“Players aren’t thriving,” he added. “Playing domestic cricket is okay but they need exposure to international cricket at the Under-19 and A-team levels. This is how a player is developed for international cricket. We are picking a raw player who may have performed at the domestic level but has never been tested against quality teams around the world before being selected for the national team.”
The chief selector was also hesitant to predict whether the national side could top the rankings in any of the three formats.
“I can’t say whether we can achieve the No. 1 position with the players we have in the team, but I can be optimistic about it,” he said.
With the Champions Trophy coming up, Pakistan made some massive changes to their squad, leaving out veterans like Younis Khan and Abdul Razzaq, but Qasim stated that players were picked on their performances rather than their reputation or anything else.
“It doesn’t fit here as players are insecure, they never would want to be rested,” Qasim said. “The present crop of players are in rebuilding process and we are trying to form a good combination. We are in fact in no position to rotate players as the phenomena isn’t feasible in our culture. Players start obsessing about their place rather than giving their best.”