Pakistan have come under criticism after their squad for a two-Test home series against South Africa included a grand total of nine uncapped players.
New chief selector Mohammad Wasim made a statement with his first Test squad, dropping a host of established players. The home series against South Africa comes after consecutive away defeats to England and New Zealand with Pakistan not winning a Test on either tour.
Regulars such as Mohammad Abbas, Shan Masood and Haris Sohail were all victims of Wasim’s first squad, while 17-year-old pace sensation Naseem Shah missed out through injury. Zafar Gohar, who made his debut in the second Test of the New Zealand tour, is not included in the 20-man squad.
While Masood endured a difficult series in New Zealand – he registered three ducks and a top score of 10 – it was only in August 2020 that he compiled one of the most impressive hundreds by an away opener in England in recent times, an innings that ranked second in Wisden’s Test innings of the year countdown.
The absence of Abbas is the most striking, though. Although the prolific start to his Test career has subsided somewhat, he still boasts an extraordinarily impressive overall record of 84 wickets at 22.80 in Test cricket.
Alongside the nine uncapped players in the squad is the returning Hasan Ali who recently enjoyed a successful Quaid-e-Azam Trophy season where he won the player of the tournament award, where he capped off his campaign with a stunning individual performance in the tied final.
Tabish Khan, a 36-year-old seamer from Karachi, is perhaps the most eye-catching of the uncapped selections. Elsewhere, Haris Rauf is included despite having just three first-class games under his belt. Abid Ali, who is only eight Tests into his career himself, is almost certainly set to be partnered by a debutant at the top of the order, given the look of the squad.
The squad has come under fire from some quarters, with some suggesting such wholesale point to a disjointed system. Mazher Arshad, a renowned Pakistani statistician, tweeted: “Unpopular opinion: 9 uncapped players in the squad is a damning figure, not something to celebrate. It’s sign of a weak system. You’ll see developing teams like BD, Zim, AFG with that sort of figure in their squads. Established teams like Aus, Eng, Ind etc don’t take this route.”
Unpopular opinion: 9 uncapped players in the squad is a damning figure, not something to celebrate. It’s sign of a weak system. You’ll see developing teams like BD, Zim, AFG with that sort of figure in their squads. Established teams like Aus, Eng, Ind etc don’t take this route.
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) January 15, 2021
In further tweet, he added: “It’s also a matter of breaking confidence. Imagine the plight of Zafar Gohar, who worked hard for 5 years to get selected. And is dropped after one Test.”
Full Pakistan Test squad: Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan.