Other than selfies, what was Ahmed Shehzad’s contribution in the Champions Trophy to deserve the cash prize?

Published: July 19, 2017
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LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Sarfraz Ahmed of Pakistan lifts the winners trophy as Pakistan win the ICC Champions trophy cricket match between India and Pakistan at The Oval in London on June 18, 2017. PHOTO: GETTY

Pakistan just pulled off an incredible victory against politically imposed nemesis India in the Champions Trophy final last month. The victory tasted so sweet that the government and media houses (don’t forget the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) too, they’re here somewhere) took it upon themselves to virtually term this win as the epitome and peak of Pakistan’s performance.

Really? Wait, we’re still ranked sixth in the world? Hold on to your horses, people; it’s a great win but Pakistan cricket has a long way to go.

The victorious Pakistan team lift the Champions Trophy, India v Pakistan, Final, Champions Trophy 2017, The Oval, London, June 18, 2017. Photo: Getty Images

Yet we, the people, are frantic humans. Subcontinental affiliation with cricket rests on heavy emotions and it is this emotion that brought such praise to the team and hate on the other side of the border. But in India, the hate lasted for some days and they moved on to play an ODI in the West Indies. Their focus was on improvement in selection and new tactics. Yet here in Pakistan, after one month of jubilation on social media and otherwise, we fail to move on.

Last week, we saw the cricket team (which supposedly encompasses the players, the whole squad, the whole team management and the PCB’s management) being invited to a special ceremony at the prime minister’s palatial home.

They were given awards, medals, and supposedly the best form of accolade, monetary cheques. Each player of the 16-man squad, received Rs10 million (which is one crore, now it sounds bigger, right?), whereas the team management and some of PCB’s management (including director media, director logistics and director marketing for helping Fakhar Zaman hold on to his mantle) were awarded Rs5 million rupees each (Rs50 lakhs, yes).

The total sum given out by the government was Rs215 million.

For once, let’s zoom out and feel perfectly alright with this expenditure. Given this incomprehensible assumption, do all players of the squad deserve this cash prize? Do members of the team management and PCB, who get various benefits plus monthly salaries, deserve this expansive monetary recognition? Why do non-contributors reap the same rewards? The previous statement is epitomised by a certain selfie king – yes, the one and only, Ahmed Shehzad.

Not only did he receive this exorbitant cash prize, but he was also in the front row when the official picture at the PM house was taken, with a mobile phone (you guessed it right) in his hand.

The Government of Pakistan, led by Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, announced hefty cash prizes for the national team and the total prize money gifted to the players and management of the victorious team amounted to Rs200 million. Photo: PCB

He’s part of the 16-man squad. ICC presents awards to the entire squad, not just the playing 11. Extrapolating that logic, maybe, just maybe, we can justify a uniform cash award to all players. But celebration should be respected and should at least encompass some dignity. Instead of tournament hero Zaman, Shehzad was shining bright in the spotlight (which he hardly manages to do on the pitch).

Do you think Ahmed Shehzad deserved the cash prize, considering he was dropped after his first match in the Champions Trophy?

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And it’s not just his antics in the PM house back home, but his celebration at the Oval as well.

Jubilation is inevitable, but I’ll let you decide whether a non-contributor should act like this, in the front row, where contributors should proudly hoist their winner’s medals.

Photo: Ahmed Shehzad official Facebook page

I’m willing to drop the ‘giving this much cash is okay’ assumption only because of this act. Shehzad has a career average of 33 in ODIs and is very active on social media, judging by his recent Instagram and Facebook feed (he posted a video, where he was acting out in his car to a tragic Indian song).

Many people from abroad have asked me who this aspiring actor is. That’s pitiful. The guy was a regular opener in the national cricket team and people fail to recognise him for that. Yet, he stole the spotlight from pretty much everyone else. Why, oh why?

Pakistan, ranked No. 8 before the tournament, took the trophy home, India v Pakistan, Final, Champions Trophy 2017, The Oval, London, June 18, 2017. Photo: Getty

For the record, he was dropped after his first match in the Champions Trophy. After that, when Zaman took over, there was no way back for Shehzad. Thus, he contributed as much to Pakistan’s win as I did. Give me 10% of what he got, sorry, 1% of what he got and I’ll go back in my cave.

Enough of what has happened and more on what should happen.

My prediction – Pakistan will fall back on Earth in the months to come. This may sound harsh, but this in no way means the team’s achievement wasn’t mammoth. It was and will remain etched forever in history. But the way the win is hyped up and exaggerated, along with handing out monetary accolades; things are going a bit too far. Thus, the peak at which the cricket team finds itself on (propelled there predominantly by the media), there is no other way but downtown.

The selfie king will stay out of the team if the current scenario persists. There is no Shahid Afridi to bring him back and the selection committee will prefer giving Azhar Ali and Zaman’s combo a long-term chance. Shehzad can pray that Zaman is a one-tournament wonder (Big Nas aka Nasir Jamshed anyone?).

If he doesn’t let his form slip up and if he doesn’t swell his belly with all the riches he’s got, Zaman can be a permanent showcase top of the order. Ali has improved at that position, gaining some consistency as well. So no need to let in players who perform consistently on mediocrity (read: Shehzad and Umar Akmal). Those who put greatness as their ceiling should be valued and that’s where Pakistan cricket needs to go from here.

Hamza Raza

Hamza Raza

The author is a LUMS graduate, a sports enthusiast, and a marketeer by heart making sports journalism investigative.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Khan

    Not sure why is the writer picking on one player this way. He is getting the the accolades because he is in the team whether he played a match or not. There is alot that goes behind the scenes by each individual which eventually leads to a team win. If you want to critique his cricket skills then that is fine but attacking one’s self esteem, that is indecent and unprofessional.Recommend

  • KlingOn2K

    He is not called “Selfie-Shehzad” for nothing.
    Selfies and dance moves are his thing. He must be doing something right if his team won the cup. Let him be.Recommend

  • ahmed

    What is wonder that Ahmad in group pic, Afridi played for 20 years with mediocre performance so Umar Akmal,If performance is criteria then Fawad has to be in the national team.Recommend

  • FQ

    spot on….begaani shaadi mein abdullah dewaana. !! he should have never been selected in the first place…#ordinaryclubcricketerRecommend

  • mumtaz

    i feel really bad for this guy, fawad alam, such a great cricketer and a genuine test batsman but still unable to find his way into the national side. His average is over 50 in domestic cricket and if im not wrong it about 57. No other cricketer in pakistan has such good stats but still being ignored when come to selection for pakistan. I was really hopeful for him when inzi got the post of chief selector but everyone ignores him. Justice should prevail and may he get a chance to represent pakistan again.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Today if we see or take a survey of Pakistan we see two things very similar which is 1 is corruption and 2 is every Pakistani Resident is posing an Angel of him self from journalist to an prime minister who is head of Pakistan cricket board and shameless habitual liars. How it is possible a person bring a shame to his country is hero as a same time this only possible in Pakistan pakistan cricket board and Pakistan cricket team lady 5years performance is more shame then gain including spot fixing scandal and MOHs Amir still in team because corruption in Pakistan is not s issueRecommend

  • Hamza Raza

    Hi. Yes, they both got degrees, because they both worked towards it. The back-bencher graduated because he worked for it.

    Plus, yes, of course he was part of the squad and thus got the same accolades. What my article says is that there should be humility and a modicum of decency when you get what you didn’t contribute to. These cricketers are representing the nation, they have to be at their best.Recommend

  • Hamza Raza

    Hi. I think you skipped a beat. I wrote that because he is part of the squad, he will be awarded and rewarded. Did he deserve it? That is the question. OF course, you need a bigger debate than this; the whole system is under question.

    My article also questions a player’s humility and his role as a representative of the country.Recommend

  • Hamza Raza

    Hi. What i wrote is positive, constructive criticism, without which the team, team management, and the PCB would stay static. No one would want that. Someone needs to speak up. His place in the team was already doubtful. He does not boast a healthy average.

    To get your word across, you need to start by something. Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz rarely deliver, and pride themselves on mediocrity. I am not attacking his self-esteem, I am merely questioning his humility. Did you see Wahab Riaz in the front row everywhere? The problem isn’t that he was in the front or he celebrated as if he’s done it all, the problem is that this diverted attention from the real heroes.

    Plus, the article employs humour, which again, should be used frequently for positive criticism.Recommend

  • Shaiixa yamin

    Not just Ahmed shehzad … Why wahan riaz was not eligible for any prize in my opinion only those who put their potential in finals , semi finals and other matches in which pak won were eligible for prizeRecommend

  • Shaiixa yamin

    Agree and with Ahmad shehzad why wahab riaz is here..???Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Rubbish blog. He was part of the squad.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    his biggest contribution is to fail against india in first game as that lead to fakhar zaman playing for Pakistan that changed everything so yes let him lift the trophy and enjoy his cash he is a class player might come good in years to come and for years to come u never know he has all the shots and all the right attitude he was messed up by misbah will be okRecommend

  • Mustafa

    Yeah bt at the same time Haris Sohail is also not being part of any matches why is he getting prize contribution.it doesn’t matter if you are not being part of playing 11 the thing matter the most is being a part of squadRecommend

  • Citizen

    I think he deserves prize money, for clearly proving in his first game that he is of no use for the remaining matches and cricket and coach need to rethink on their plans which they promptly did so.Recommend

  • Hamza Raza

    Hi. The piece was not designed to defame a Pakistani who was celebrating, neither did it condemn the celebration itself (celebration being an entity). In fact, it is lucidly written that because he was part of the team, he is entitled to the cash prize, and he is entitled to a celebration. But where’s the humility? I’ve read your blogs. You’ve written about class in defeat (referring to Virat Kohli), then why can’t we have graciousness in victory?

    Sure, this might be one of the worst pieces you’ve read, but you being a seasoned writer and editor, should probably have sought to guide me rather than ridicule and move on. Sigh. Then you complain of stalled progress.

    I love what you write though! Thought I’d end up learning something from you. The irony.Recommend