Choosing Haris Sohail over Fawad Alam demerits PCB’s merit-based selection

Published: September 30, 2017
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A blissful Fawad Alam after his maiden ODI hundred, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup final, Mirpur, March 8, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

If I could add a synonym for the word injustice in the dictionary, I would put Fawad Alam right next to it. For years, I have heard his name circulate in the media, but it rarely made its way inside the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) headquarters.

Ten years have lapsed since Alam’s debut against Sri Lanka. During this time, PCB changed its chairman eight times, Pakistan lost its rights to host games on its own soilPakistan Super League (PSL) hit the market, I finished my college degree – and Alam is still putting together a plethora of runs next to his name in the rotten domestic cricket circuit of Pakistan without getting a glimpse of attention from the selectors.

Fawad Alam gestures after bringing up his fifty, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup final, Mirpur, March 8, 2014. Photo: AFP

Selectors from various backgrounds have come and gone, but the prejudice against Alam has been a common denominator. Even when he earned a call-up from PCB for the national side, he was dropped almost immediately and pushed back into the domestic circuit for years to come.

Selectors have preferred to stay mute on Alam’s exclusion, probably because of a lack of explanation. However, when they did speak, mostly due to the pressure from the media, they uttered nonsense. Excuses to exclude Alam ranged from the wrong batting technique to no available spot in the batting line-up.

What is technique? Who defined technique? Are runs scored from the bat not valid if they do not follow a textbook technique? Alam can choose to stand at a front-on angle, legs crossed or even upside down for that matter and it shouldn’t concern the selectors as long as he can score runs in a winning cause. Complaining about “technique” is like a teacher penalising a student for writing the right answer but using different words than the ones written in the textbook.

Fawad Alam puts power into one, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Hambantota, August 23, 2014. Photo: AFP

Complaining about technique became an obsolete excuse because Alam never stopped making runs in the domestic circuit. In came Inzamamul Haq with a fresh new look and new ideas as he took over the chief selector’s role. He claimed there is lack of space in the middle-order for Alam to be included. In his press conference, he promised to provide Alam his due share of opportunities when batting spots become vacant in the line-up.

On May 14, 2017, two of Pakistan’s heavyweights, Misbahul Haq and Younis Khan retired from international cricket. Their retirement left big shoes to be filled and a big vacuum in the batting line-up. Surely, we thought, this time Alam cannot be overlooked. Surely, we thought, Alam will get a specific batting position and will not be tossed around in the line-up. Surely, we thought, this is Alam’s moment. Geniuses in PCB, however, thought otherwise. Alam faced the snub once again.

As heart-breaking as it may sound, the man who has built an entire empire of runs next to his name couldn’t impress the PCB selectors for the Test squad, yet Haris Sohail could.

While Alam has shed sweat and tears to accumulate more than 2,000 runs in the past three years in first-class cricket, he couldn’t even land a category C central contract with the PCB. Meanwhile, Sohail will be playing against Sri Lanka after his “remarkable” recent form of zero runs from zero games in the last three years in first-class cricket.

Haris Sohail exults after a wicket, Pakistan v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Sharjah, December 12, 2014. Photo: AFP

This is not a merit-based selection; this is a farce in the name of a merit-based system.

What has Alam possibly done wrong to face the axe from PCB time and again? It clearly can’t be his talent and performance. Hence, I am forced to think of other possible explanations. Does he lack the ‘parchi’ (connections) required to change the selectors’ minds? Is it because he isn’t born in Lahore? Is it because he chooses to stay silent instead of holding press conferences to publicly shame PCB?

Whatever the reason may be for Alam’s exclusion for the Sri Lankan tour, it’s beyond my comprehension.

Inzamam needs to learn that promises need to be upheld, not forgotten. He promised Alam this opportunity, it’s time to fulfill that promise.

Hamza Junaid

Hamza Junaid

The author is from Islamabad, Pakistan. Currently an International student at Baruch College in New York. Playing cricket is one of his favorite hobbies and he plays for a team called Gladiators in New York.

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

  • Israr Khan

    sorry hamza :) totally disagree with you here buddy … harris sohail is a TOP batsman and better than fawad alam , yes fawad deserve chance as well but a fit harris sohail gives u edge in all three format he is top class performer so no comparison here Pakistan is full of talent and if harris cannot handle pressure of test match cricket then yes usman will get chance and if he fails then may be someone else, fawad needs to keep performing … what MISBAH has done to Pakistan cricket is MASSIVE DAMAGE and almost 1 generation of cricketers OMITTED … with azhar back at no 3 less chances for fawad and that is WRONG azhar should be opening the battingRecommend

  • Saqib Gondal
  • Mk

    #shameinzishame I hope Haris score some runs or Inzi will repentRecommend

  • M Hammad Khan

    Get some information about Cricket before talking,

    technique matters in Cricket, and little brother you are pointing out the management who has just won Champions Trophy.

    Your Experienced Wahab Riaz and Ahmad Shehzad could not done it in the first match against India what inexperienced Hassan Ali and Fakhar zaman did in the tournament.

    If you talk about Experience then why not Yasir Shah picked instead of Shadab khan?

    According to you Shadab Khan should not be selected because Yasir shah have tones of experience? Why Shadab khan picked who did so well to win trophy for Pakistan……….

    And do you know what Wasim Akram said about Fawad Aalam? He said I will enjoy bowling against Fawad Alam bcoz I will take Maximum 3 deliveries to get him out.

    its good to criticize but not in this demolishing way..For me, PCC is only institution working on Merit and we witnessed results 2 months ago…..
    Recommend

  • MAK

    “Does he lack the ‘parchi’ (connections) required to change the selectors’ minds?” and “Is it because he isn’t born in Lahore?” – it’s True..Recommend

  • mas

    It is really disappointing to see how a genuine talent like Fawad Alam is being treated. With batting avg of 41.66 in Test and 56.6 in First Class cricket he is not selected. If the selector hide behind their lame excuse of introducing new talent can they justify the inclusion of Bilal Asif in the Test Team who is 32 years 7 days old vs Fawad 31 years 358 days. This guy with no test experience and has been termed as an all rounder with batting avg of 19.52 and bowling avg of 38.0 in first class is selected in the team. Interestingly, Fawad also have bowling avg of 38.0 in the first class. All of us also know how much can Fawad contribute with his agile fielding. The only flaw I see in Fawad is that he is from Karachi and not from Sialkot/Lahore. Shame on Inzimam Ul Haque and PCB from depriving a rightful or his due right.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    so MAS u understand there is something ELSE wrong other than fawad’s batting, might be his attitude or may be pcb is looking for someone to perform all over the world which is rare … pcb has mental issues i totally agree hahahha there is NO DOUBT about it … they have wasted many and yes fawad is destroyed by misbah as he debut ages 34 so he thinks hahahahaha fawad should also hahhaha u know what i mean inzi was our sad case captain and so was misbah in odis YK was an asset i hope azhar opens again so fawad might get chance at 5 or 4Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Hi Israr! Always great to get your insights on the topic. The headline is a bit misleading (not written by me) and it wasn’t the core issue of the blog. Anyways, the issue isn’t that Harris Sohail is not talented, the issue is what is the criteria for selection? One player doesn’t play a single first class game in 3 years and he is selected while the other who played there each year to impress selectors didnt get a single call up. This is an insult to our own first class set-up.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Thanks for Sharing!Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @MK Harris did score runs and as Pakistanis we wish him best of luck for future too. However any player scoring runs on a flat track against a weak SL side is not a justification to keep Fawad Alam out. I am sure he could have scored runs too if he had been playing. I agree with you.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @ M Hammad Khan. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I think you misunderstood the message, I was never talking about experience in Fawad. I was simply talking about him being a consistent top performer in domestic cricket so he deserves a chance.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Seems like the sad reality to me as well. Very Unfortunate.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @mas I completely agree with you! Bilal Asif is another wonder selection with no justification. Our selectors are given all sorts of freedom to select players without any list of criteria of what they are looking for. Fawad has been wasted by PCB and they should take the responsibility for it.Recommend

  • MJ

    Before playing this test against Sri-Lanka, Haris had not played any first class cricket since 2015!! While during the past 2 years Fawad had a first class ave. of 57 plus runs and also led Karachi to national T20 championship. I am mentioning T20 so those people who think Fawad does not have the technique and cannot play at a higher strike rate can look at his T20 runs made and the strike rate. Also the guy was the fittest among all during the last military boot camp and national fitness camp. This guy just cannot catch a break under Inzi.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Look at the technique of Chandarpaul & Sehwag and then look at the runs they have scored, if technique has so much importance then many players’ international careers could have been ended after first match. I think you should get some information before talking as you are compairing Champians Trophy Team which is ODI team with the Test team.Recommend

  • Asif Javaid

    So Mr Hamza how you feel now after watching Haris’s performance with both batt and ball in the 1st test.Recommend

  • Ateeq Ahmed

    Sarfraz, Asad Shafiq, Younus Khan & Yasir Shah were not born in Lahore.Recommend

  • Imtiaz Hamid

    Answer my friend is blowing in the wind. Score……Recommend

  • Nabil Khan

    It truly is shameful. PCB has always been Punjab Cricket board. Sarfaraz had to jump through many hoops to get captaincy and I bet they are waiting for him to fail for a series or two to quickly replace him with a captain from Lahore or any other city of Punjab. Then they question why people of Karachi still call them self Muhajirs. Its because they are constantly treated as outsiders. Whether its by Punjab Cricket Board or Punjab International Airlines or Punjab Airforce/Navy/Army. Fawad Alam will just join a list of many youth from Karachi who have been overlooked in the past. Truly a shame..Recommend

  • mas

    Fawad’s attitude I have seen many interviews with reporters pestering Fawad to respond aggressively. Still, he has always been tactful and diplomatic in his response leaving his predicament to the will of Allah. What more should we expect from him keeping in view the how he has been treated.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @MJ You summed it up nicely. I really cant find any cricketing logic behind him not being selected. Definitely seems like a bias against Fawad Alam.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Asif I am happy for him and as a Pakistani I wish he keeps scoring runs. The Blog isnt about Fawad vs Harris. Its about trying to understand the selection criteria which doesn’t make sense.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @ Nabil thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can understand your frustration of Fawad Alam being ignored however lets just pray our board keeps improving and moving towards merit based selections. We have a karchi born captain after all, hopefully things will get better.Recommend

  • RighteousLeft

    Haris Sohail is ok – and he has shown that his selection was justified. Babar Akmal needs to be removed from test team and Fawad Alam should take his place at the #3 spot.Recommend