PCB’s secret selection formula: Keep your average low and age high!
Dear Young Cricketers (YCs), you thought that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would not reveal its selection criteria and you will be forced to start some other business? Please reconsider your decision, as I have found the secret selection formula of the PCB.
Let me start by saying that, in cricket, statistics cannot be overlooked easily. However that is not the case with the PCB. What the PCB sees in its players while selection is beyond me. Today, even a ten-year-old can open espncricinfo.com to analyse the recent or overall performances of a player. I am not sure if the PCB selectors are even internet-savvy. Consequently, we lose to teams like Zimbabwe and the PCB starts punishing players. However, can anyone punish the selectors?
Anyways, here are a few parameters.
The strike rates, averages and age of Misbahul Haq are all around 40. He is not a bad player, but he has gathered a bunch of players with similar quantities and qualities. Half of our Test side is in their mid 30’s – an age when most of other players are in the twilight of their careers. The rest are mentally over mature.
Take the example of Azhar Ali. He will score a 50 off 150 balls, and crawl to a hundred (if rarely so) off 300 balls. Funnily enough, Mohammad Hafeez is the most aggressive player now days. Nasir Jamshed and Ahmad Shehzad are natural stroke makers, but they have also shelved themselves into being ‘responsible’ players.
Based on my observations, the PCB makes a list of players who are close to or preferably above 30, and selects them one by one. The rest are either discarded or benched for good. Some examples include Zulfiqar Baber, Tanvir Ahmed, Ayub Dogar, and Shakil Ansar.
Dear YCs, my advice to you is that you start your under-19 career at the age of 29.
PCB selectors do not believe in domestic cricket averages. They have some divine formula for selection. However, still we carefully dug deeper to find that the selectors particularly don’t like any batsman who averages above 45 in First Class (FC) cricket.
Hence dear YCs, keep your averages down and modest. Modesty is the best policy.
The selectors are currently making a list of those players who have attained strike rates below 50. They are automatic team selections. Look at Azhar Ali, Misbah, Taufeeq Umar and Asad Shafiq; they are even given extra bonus points.
So dear YCs, keep your strike rate as low as possible. Never try to hit a six, unless you get a top edge, in which case, only God can prevent it from going over the boundary.
The PCB has imposed a ban on anyone who wants to perform well in both disciplines, batting and bowling. For this reason, Abdul Razzaq is being ignored, Hammad Azam is being sidelined and no other replacements are being groomed. When the upcoming batsmen (or bowlers) are selected, the selectors particularly scrutinise the fact that they will not touch the ball (or bat) during the net practice. Consequently, our tail-enders present the perfect example of the 1960’s tails. Our last four cannot be trusted to add even 15 runs to the total.
Therefore, dear YCs never touch the bat if you stand any chances of being selected as a bowler, and vice versa.
Is your surname Akmal? If yes, then do not worry, you will get your turn. Otherwise, it is better to open a kabab shop.
YCs, kindly, change your surnames and practice dropping catches.
Normally, the PCB keeps one slot reserved for any aspirant son-in-laws. Thus, the competition is for the second opening slot, which is occupied by Hafeez. Now Hafeez represents a dream cricketer for PCB: a quintessence of mediocrity. He can bowl, bat, field, and lead; a jack of all trades, king of none.
The lesson to be learnt here is: Better find a father-in-law in PCB or become mediocre.
If you are a young Raza Hassan or a Yasir Shah, then wait until you are 33, like Saeed Ajmal (or Zulfiqar Babar) to get your first real chance of showing any potential, otherwise, you can apply for immigration to the UK, South Africa, or Australia. These countries are in constant need of a good leg spin bowler: take the examples of Fawad Ahmed and Imran Tahir. PCB has no intentions to groom a young spinner until Ajmal breaks down.
Hence it’s better to apply for asylum in Australia, UK, or South Africa.
Choose your format
The PCB has the tendency to try a new player in the worst possible format. For instance, Fawad Alam—who is ideally suited for Test cricket—has been spoilt by T20 cricket. Hammad Azam is deemed as T20 specialist but our sellctors think otherwise.
Dear YCs, if you are performing well in Test cricket, be ready for a selection in T20 cricket, and vice versa.
Here are some interesting anomalies;
- Shakil Ansar (aged 34)—who averages fewer than 20 in all domestic cricket formats—got selected in 2012, for no particular reason.
- After Imran Farhat’s withdrawal, the PCB opted for Shan Masood (23) who averages less in all formats as compared to Nasir Jamshed.
- Similarly, out of a dozen aspiring young batsmen in domestic cricket, PCB decided to bring in a ‘fragile’ Faisal Iqbal as a cover-up for a fragile middle-order.
- A young 21-year-old wicket keeper, Muhammad Rizwan, was selected for the West Indies tour recently and dropped without a single chance. He averages 44.32 in 35 FC games and 34.85 in LA cricket.
- In the end, the one major tip for getting selected by the PCB is to be lucky. That’s your best chance.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.