PSL 3: Was Azam Khan selected for Quetta Gladiators based on merit or because he is Moin Khan’s son?

Published: November 23, 2017
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Azam Khan has not even opened his account in the sphere of Pakistan’s domestic cricket, therefore we can’t even comment on his batting abilities.

We all have dreams, but only a few of us go against the odds to accomplish those dreams. Playing for the national cricket team is a dream for millions of kids on the streets of Pakistan, and a few brave souls ultimately set themselves on the long, rough journey to get selected for Pakistan’s domestic cricket team.

For years, they work hard and follow their passion blindly, hoping that their performance will be good enough to attract even a glimpse of the selector’s dodgy eyes. The dream of these young, talented individuals is impaired, bruised and torn apart, however, when a relative of someone influential bypasses the system to get selected instead of them.

The names that come to mind when we talk about favouritism and nepotism are plenty, but the most recent ones include Imamul Haq and Azam Khan.

During the draft of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2018, Quetta Gladiators picked Azam from the supplementary category. When I first heard the name, I thought they had gambled on some unknown newcomer, only to find out later that Azam is Moin Khan’s son. The gamble then made sense to me, in terms of the relationships at least.

I am by no means suggesting that a relative of someone in power should never be given an opportunity; however, like everyone else, that opportunity needs to be earned by merit and not provided via shortcuts!

I would love to believe that Azam has earned his place in Quetta Gladiators, but calling this a merit-based selection would be far-fetched. Azam has not even opened his account in the sphere of Pakistan’s domestic cricket, therefore we can’t even comment on his batting abilities. Getting a direct ticket to a PSL franchise, without having to prove his mettle in domestic cricket, echoes of nothing but nepotism.

Moin claims that his son was picked because of his remarkable talent, yet ironically, that talent only attracted attention from one franchise – the one where Moin is the coach. I try to refrain from commenting on anyone’s state of physique, however, it is ironic that as chief selector in 2014, Moin stated that players whose fitness levels are below set standards will be dropped. Hence, I think it’s fair to comment on his son’s fitness level, especially now that he is part of Quetta Gladiators. Surprisingly, it seems Azam’s evident lack of fitness is not a concern for Moin anymore.

Anyone else smells hypocrisy?

If Azam’s selection gives you a jolt in the head, then you haven’t been following Pakistan’s cricket long enough. This certainly isn’t the first instance where we have observed favouritism in Pakistani cricket. We have proudly (pun intended) enriched our cricket history with classic examples of favouritism and nepotism. Imran Farhat had the luxury to play 58 ODIs in Pakistan’s national jersey at a below par batting average of 30.69, and a miserable strike rate of 69.06. After all, he was the talented son-in-law of former cricketer Mohammad Ilyas.

Imamul Haq, the talented nephew of Inzamamul Haq, the current chief selector of the Pakistan cricket team, is the latest addition to the national team. He may have scored a well-deserved century in his debut, but that does not settle the dust on his selection.

It was not Imam’s turn to debut, nonetheless he was still selected. Imam’s List A average is 38.96, while the likes of Saad Ali and Usman Salahuddin carry 55.60 and 44.39 respectively. Even if we look at openers specifically, Khurram Manzoor has an average of 50.59 in List A, and could have earned a comeback after an impressive run in recent seasons. Yet, Imam with the least average among the names mentioned is playing in the team while the rest are still waiting in line. 

Imam-ul-Haq is delighted with his hundred on ODI debut, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Abu Dhabi, October 18, 2017. Photo: Getty

I would wish Imam and Azam the very best in their futures – this isn’t a personal rant against either one of them. The goal is to highlight injustice.

Those that followed their dreams to play for Pakistan had trusted the system. Let’s not cheat them. Imam or Azam can both play for Pakistan as long as they earn their place by performing better than everyone else’s children in domestic cricket, not through shortcuts that their connections offer.

Hamza Junaid

Hamza Junaid

The author is an avid cricket follower and plays for a team called Gladiators based in New York. He tweets as @hamza_junaid1 (twitter.com/hamza_junaid1)

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

  • ShahKiTweetiyan

    Good one bro! this is how we should adverse without being sarcasticRecommend

  • Waqas

    This case is different from the examples you have given above, as he is only selected for Quetta Gladiators which is owned by Mr. Nadeem Omer who has complete authority to select anyone, unlike Pakistan Cricket Team or even any Regional team, so if he selected on the basis of merit or nepotism we cant do any thing, and in my view it has nothing to do with systemRecommend

  • Zeeshan Safder

    We are right about azam khan but you are total ignorant on imam ul haq selection. Seems like article of some non cricketing expert. If stats are the only and best choice of selection then why would a board need 5 members selection panel. Identify talent and give them opportunity is what selectors are supposed to do. Otherwise mazhar arshad can be ideal for the post. Imam ul haq has performed quite better in his last outing of emerging player tournament, where he scored 2 100s in 5 games. And one more thing I like to add, there can be no worst opener in Pak history than khurram manzoor yet he is karachi media favourite. What you call it, is it fair journalism?Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Waqas I agree its a franchise but it still has a social responsibility to promote talent from Quetta in a merit based selection. They have authority to do what they want and we have authority to raise voice against injustice.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @shahkitweetiyan:disqus
    Thank You! Appreciate the support.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    what diff does it make azam khan if he is good enough he will stay in big league if not then ta ta bye byeRecommend

  • azhar

    good article, there is injustice in the system. some people dont even make it to domestic cricket because of it.
    first class bowlers average less than 20– mir hamza and sadaf hussain not selected they are better than wahab riaz, better average than junaid amir.

    best first class bowlers who should be in tests
    1-sadaf hussain (first class and list A bowling average less than 20)
    2-mir hamza
    3- tabish khan
    4-sohail khan

    so many injustices…these bowlers have higher wicket taking rate than amir and others in firstclass….Recommend

  • Sufiyan

    Good article. Both cases are a little different yet very similar. Let’s talk about Imam first. He is selected to play for the national team of Pakistan. A team that belongs to this country and nobody owns personally. It goes without saying that the selection to represent Pakistan should be done based on merit only and imam doesn’t fit the bill there. There are other talented players with far superior performances over an extended period of time that should have been given a chance instead. Fawad Alam, khurram Manzoor to name a few.

    Azam Khan however is selected to play for a private franchise. Private franchises can’t be forced to select players on merit because if the players don’t perform, it’s the private franchise’s loss and not the country’s. Where it becomes an issue is if and when azam gets selected to play for Pakistan based on his performance in the PSL. There are better players in the domestic circuit who don’t get a chance to show case their talent on the bigger stage of PSL because they don’t have a relative in the selection committee.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    There is no criteria for selection what so ever. Apparently its the Selctor’s “eyes” that recognize talent. Stats hold no value in PCB.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @disqus_cbYUQBqIFW:disqus

    Of course it makes a difference! This isn’t exactly street cricket. Its Pakistan’s premium tournament which allows some players to get selected in the national team! Azam Khan hasn’t proved anything in domestic cricket to get this free ticket into PSL! Don’t agree with your thoughts on this one Israr :)Recommend

  • Waqas

    Then tell me how many players from Karachi are playing in Karachi Kings, and what about there last year’s talent hunt programme under the supervision of Rashid Latif, how many players they have selected. My point is why all of us are criticizing Quetta Gladiators and Azam Khan and if he is not good enough for selection he cant stay too long in such a big league.Recommend

  • Fahad Satti

    So conclusion is anybody can play in PSL. If so then it would be no better than street cricket. it should be made mandatory that only those playing class A cricket would be chosen for PSL.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Very well said. I completely agree with your thoughts. We can’t force the franchise indeed because its their money but the problem is that PSL’s platform belongs to PCB.It becomes an even bigger issue when PCB uses PSL as the benchmark for selection into the national team. This is where the lines between franchise cricket and PCB become a blur. If PSL performances are going to be used as a justification into national team then Azam Khan’s selection isn’t a private matter of the franchise anymore.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Waqas Karachi Kings have Saifullah Bangash, Tabish Khan and Hasan Mohsin. All three of these are karachi born cricketers.

    I have criticized Azam Khan because he has entered Pakistan’s premium tournament without merit. I don’t know how talented he is but he needs to prove himself like any other player before being considered for selection. In this case he had to prove nothing, daddy was the coach and that was enough.Recommend

  • Ali Babar

    I guess we have only rants and objections on everything that happens in holy land. Com’on man, for a second take a look at the positives. Khurram Mazoor, how many more chances you want to give to him, he is just not cut for the deal. Mark Ramparkash was a terrific domestic giant but failed miserably. Amir comparing with Mir Hamza and others, are you serious?

    PSL Franchises are private entities whose core function at the end of the day is to make money and they are not there to serve the country or any lofty aims. If he is not good enough, they will kick him out.

    Recommend

  • Zahid Khan

    Not only Khurram Manzoor……You can name all Karachi players who are Karachi media favourites like Fawad Alam, Tabish, and Faisal Iqbal who were given enough chances and could n’t make it count…This is not other fault…They only have to blame themselves….Gournalizam should be fair should not call Karachi Karachi . All are Pakistan cities should be valued.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Zeeshan Imam-ul-haq was given an ideal situation to debut. UAE flat pitch and a weak bowling attack of Sri Lanka. He scored a century and I am happy for him. Now lets see what he can do in New Zealand. I wish him best of luck.

    Meanwhile, if stats don’t matter then lets shut down our domestic cricket. Whats the point? Let the 5 member panel decide based on their judgements on who is more talented. On a side note, I am not from Karachi but I named khurrum manzoor because of his performances. He just scored a century in National T20 cup after I wrote this. I am glad I mentioned his name.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @ Ali Babar Thank You for sharing your thoughts. I did not see any Amir and Mir Hamza comparison in the blog, not sure where you picked that up from.

    Yes, its franchise money but the problem is players get selected for national team from PSL. Hence, it becomes a problem because anyone can use PSL as a shortcut by skipping domestic all together.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Safder

    Imam ul Haq gave some strong performances before given chance. All openers were failing, so some time selectors have to make a bold and out of box call. Do you remember the call of Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi in the team. I am not saying score doesn’t matter, but situation, condition and opponent; that all count. Khurram like players are big flop against team and bowlers who does work and research on batsman and bowl with some plan. Pakistan do have luxury in bowling but there are many bowlers who just run and ball, without any plan. Khurram was big flop at international level. I have stopped watching geo news shows because according to them khurram, khalid, fawad alam, faisal iqbal and even anwar ali are world top players. If you name sami aslam on domestic record then I may not argu, but khurram manzoor; no way to be called an international product. Weak selectors always come under media pressure and have selected karachi players in the past. I hope Inzimam will do the justice with all pakistani players.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Zeeshan I do see your point and agree to some extent that Imam-ul-haq has some performances to back his selection unlike Azam Khan. However, I have my doubts on Imam’s ability. Lets see what he can produce in New Zealand next year.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Zeeshan. Constructive feedback is always welcomed.Recommend

  • Waqar Younus

    Talking about regionalism and bias PCB has yet to produce even a single international cricketer from Balochistan, interior of Sindh or Kashmir or GB and yet to stage any domestic cricket there not to talk about the international cricket which is primarily reserved for Lahore. When anyone points this out they say its Pakistan afterall. The very same board failed to produce any cricketer from East Pakistan and now Bangladesh has seven internatinal grounds more than us plus international cricketers like Shakaib and Tamim etc who would not have been produced had it been run by this board which is depriving even Karachi its due share in cricket and cricketers not talk about other areas mentioned nowadays!!Recommend