PCB’s awakening: Out with the old and useless, in with the young and talented

Published: August 9, 2018
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PCB deserves full credit for allocating contracts based on merit for a change.

The cricket fraternity has aptly labelled the Pakistan cricket team as ‘unpredictable’, but little does the world know that we can be equally surprising off the field as well. After all, it is ironic that a player nicknamed “professor” by the team will now earn less than or equal to the youngsters he was meant to be a guide for. Meanwhile, Ahmed Shehzad’s lifelong (pun intended) contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has finally been scrapped for good.

Times are changing fast within the PCB, and players need to get accustomed to performance-based evaluations rather than banking on seniority and connections.

Mohammad Hafeez, the aforementioned professor, is visibly upset at his demotion in the recently announced central contracts. And why wouldn’t he be, when his seniority in the team is reflected by the span of time he has spent in the Pakistan cricket team, but not by the salary package he will receive from now on.

It is easy to understand where Hafeez is coming from when he opposed being demoted to a Category B contract. He has been critical in Pakistan’s limited overs side for a significant amount of time, and even captained the T20 side in the past. The problem, however, lies in the fact that Hafeez is only lethal when all the bits and pieces that complete him as a player are in sync.

Mohammad Hafeez celebrates with the ICC Champions Trophy on June 18, 2017 in London, England. Photo: Getty

Each time Hafeez played as an all-rounder, he completed the Pakistani line-up, but every time the International Cricket Council (ICC) took his bowling out of the equation, he struggled to prove his worth as a batsman alone. Hafeez has remodelled his action and is legal to bowl again, but the post Misbah-era Pakistani team has evolved in the meantime with a more modern approach.

Fresh blood has been incorporated into the team; youngsters who are keen on scoring runs, while the abundance of quality bowlers has meant that Hafeez is not being missed. Gradually, Hafeez has been pushed to the back seat while the youngsters have taken the limelight.

Photo: AFP

In light of the current situation, Hafeez needs to come to terms with the reality rather than engaging in a media war with the PCB. His career is on the wrong side of the bell curve, with a downhill ride forthcoming. A ‘Category A’ contract was justifiable for the Hafeez of the past, but a ‘Category B’ contract fairly reflects his value in the team today.

In the current circumstances, Hafeez cannot have the best of both worlds; he can either prolong his career until he hits a dead end, or choose to end his career on his own terms by retiring respectfully sooner rather than later.

Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan salutes the dressing room as he leaves the field at stumps on day three of the 3rd Test between Pakistan and England on November 3, 2015 in Sharjah. Photo: Getty

If Hafeez was the ‘professor’ in the team, then Shehzad and Umar Akmal were surely the case studies for ‘what not to do’. If the effects of marijuana haven’t gotten off Shehzad’s head by now, then getting ripped off the central contract surely will help get his senses back.

Like Umar, Shehzad earns no sympathy whatsoever. I wholeheartedly welcome PCB’s move of axing him from all the contracts. In fact, I thought I would never see this day, because at one point, Shehzad’s career had become immortal. With one comeback after another, Shehzad turned up with new hairstyles but the same old performance.

Ahmed Shehzad of Pakistan celebrates during Day Five of the First Test between Pakistan and Australia at Dubai International Stadium on October 26, 2014. Photo: Getty

Someone has finally knocked some sense into PCB that a player’s value is determined by his current performance, not by what he could have been. Youngsters in other teams have come in and performed their way to captaincy of their national sides, while we are still busy measuring the amount of talent God has gifted Shehzad with.

Well it’s time to get off our high horses regarding God gifted talent. We have heard enough about Shehzad’s talent on local TV channels, but it would be great if we could have players who actually performed as well. Babar Azam’s promotion to ‘Category A’ is a perfect reflection of how actual performances should be the criteria for applause, not the potential you think you see in a player had he not ruined his own chances.

Photo: Facebook/ Ahmed Shehzad

Pakistan has invested way too much time and financial resources on Shehzad and Umar, but the likes of Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf and Fakhar Zaman prove that with the right attitude, talent doesn’t take forever to shine. They have all earned an upgrade to their contracts, and rightly so, because their hunger for success and determination to prove themselves has always been evident on the field.

It feels odd writing this, because rarely does PCB give you the chance to praise them. However, they deserve full credit for allocating contracts based on merit for a change. Seniority is only valuable if it can outperform or outshine the young blood, which is no longer the case for certain players. Meanwhile, God “gifted” players are perhaps best suited to perform on TV channels, since they cannot perform on the field.

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.

  • Leonard Harrison

    Well done, terrific article……..Recommend

  • Shaz Baloch

    Pakistan Team under Mickey Arthur is doing fine. Hafeez will be selected for next tour but juniors will get priority. The fans and journalists need to divert their interest towards PCB. The domestic setup has been devastated under Najam Sethi. No A tours were planned to groom or identify promising players. Pathetic pitches in QA trophy. So much problems exist in domestic from where we will get players for Pakistan team.Recommend

  • https://iptvsat.info Anis creator

    pictures well taken congratulationsRecommend

  • Zia

    Poor article. You can praise PCB for their call but not need to insult the players.Recommend

  • ABKhan

    Couldn’t agree more. In fact, Hafeez should have been placed in D or E category. He is nothing more than a burden. I never saw him performing in any crucial match. I think Micky Arther is the best thing even happened to PCBRecommend

  • Omar Ahmed

    Very apt article indeed. For me this sentence really shone through
    ” with the right attitude, talent doesn’t take forever to shine. ”
    What’s more, it reeks of a mental disease of Pakistani players that they want to squeeze every possible penny from living the life of an International cricketer even at the cost of their own well built reputation (if any, as in cases of Umar and Shehzad there isn’t), the performance of the team and their image in public.
    Sangakara, Graeme Smith, Brendon McCullum, Mitchel Johnson & Kallis are only a few examples players of other team who chose their country over their serviceable bodies for the sake of a smooth transition to younger players and keeping future in mind. Just because you have played ‘n’ number of years does not automatically result in a Grade ‘A’ contract.
    Same with Indian players, with Sachin not really helping India much by prolonging his career for no significant gains. The WI tour was arranged for his farewell it seemed. A possible exception to graceful exits in “Gora” teams is Ponting, who too chose the same path as Sachin. Our “Professor” wants to follow the same but unfortunately is not in the same league of quality so the Board is not going to entertain his thoughts for much.Recommend

  • Sufiyan

    Good article. It’s about time players realized is their worth is measured by their performances and not by their raw talent. Perhaps, PCB should look at Aamir’s bowling lately as well and decide if he is really Category A player.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Thank You for your support!Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Shaz Baloch you are right that domestic cricket has been neglected by the current setup as well. Hopefully as PCB is improving domestic cricket will also be looked into. Dont worry about getting new players because we always found players with this flawed system as well lolRecommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Pictures are selected by ET.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Zia apart from a few shots taken at ahmed shehzad in a lighter mood(which I feel he deserves) I dont think there were any insults. But Thank You for your feedback will keep in mind.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Micky Arthur is indeed best for us he doesnt carry any political affiliations and took some bold decisions that wereokg overdue. He took a strong stance on improving fitness level and Hafeez was rightly benched because better players have arrived. Services of Hafeez will be remembered but its time for the team to move on.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Omer Thank you for the support and I completely agree with your thoughts. That is precisely the dilemma for these players where they want to “squeeze every penny” out of their career but also want to retire on a high. It doesnt work that way. The player must choose one or ther other because when you go down the road of squeezing every penny out then your usually waiting to hit a dead end where your reputation can no long carry the burden of your flop shows and you end up retiring in an ugly fashion.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Agreed. Not really convinced if he deserves category A. His performances havnt been any better than Hasan Ali lately.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Good Job Hamza as always. Dont you think Azhar Ali also doesnt deserve A Category as he is playing only 1 formatRecommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Thank You Waqas!

    Regarding Azhar Ali, I would say that it is debatable. It could go either way but considering he is the backbone of the test batting lineup, I guess it is justifiable to some extent.Recommend