Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pakistan starts its year

Rewind back a year and the Nasim Ashraf led PCB had announced the fresh list of contracted Pakistan cricketers.

Mohammad Asif had been upgraded to a Category A contract putting him among the top notch of cricketers in Pakistan, while Shoaib Akhtar had been relegated to mere retainership, a new category that was formed purely for players who did not appear in enough international games de to lack of fitness or discipline or selectorial blunders.

That had resulted in an outburst from Shoaib Akhtar, who criticized the PCB, refused to sign the retainer contract, and went on to bad mouth Nasim Ashraf & Co.

Shoaib was eventually banned, fined, and dumped, while Asif, the new blue eyed boy of the administration went on to smuggle some drugs and test positive for a banned substance for the second time in as many years.

A year and an administration change later Shoaib Akhtar has landed a Category A central contract from the PCB, while Asif is no where to be heard of.

Life comes a full circle they say.

For Shoaib and Asif it has not only come a full circle but they have exchanged the circles in the meantime as well.

The Ijaz Butt led PCB announced this years list of contracted players this afternoon and as always they dished out quite a few surprises.

Besides Shoaib, Danish Kaneria, who had also been relegated to retainer status last year, has also landed a Category A contract.

How absurd is that.

Kaneria did not play a single international match during 2008.

If Pakistan doesn't play any tests this year, like 2008, Kaneria will not play any internationals in 2009 either.

And he would have ended the year pocketing Rs 3 million (US $150,000) without playing a single game.

Same for Shoaib who as history tells us may play only a handful of matches.

I'd like to smoke what Intikhab Alam, Yawar Saeed, and Abdul Qadir have been smoking.

The men who decided on the contracts.

As expected Mohammad Yousuf is no where in the list either.

I believe this was the ideal time for the PCB to take steps in bringing the ICL players back into the fold given the situation with India at this point in time.

With none of the players expected to appear in the ICL or the IPL, this was PCB's chance to make sure that its players stayed loyal to them.

Yousuf along with the likes of Razzak and Imran Nazir could have been roped in.

Obviously the PCB thinks otherwise.

There are yet more surprises in the list of contracted players.

Faisal Iqbal, Yasir Hameed, and Mohammad Hafeez have been handed Category B contracts.

Niether of them is even close to playing an international match for Pakistan yet they are placed in a category above the likes of Nasir Jamshed, Fawad Alam, Saeed Ajmal, and Rao Iftikhar, who have not only are regular members of the side but have also put in some match winning performances during last year.

Whats more, Sohail Tanvir is placed in Category B. The country's best 20-20 bowler and arguable the best ODI one as well and he is among another 3 cricketers who don't stand a chance to play for Pakistan.

Get me those smokes. Seriously.

PCB has definitely pleased some players for reasons best known to them. But at the same time they have also snubbed quite a few by placing them in the wrong categories.

The men behind it claim that the criteria was different than last year and seniority was given more importance than performance amongst other things.

Whatever it was, some common sense should have prevailed.

There is no reason why a Faisal Iqbal should make Rs 2.1 million a year when there are the likes of Azhar Ali, Nasir Jamshed, Khurram Manzoor, Khalid Latif, and Naumanullah making much less than that.

Azhar Ali has atleast managed to land a Category C contract, as has the talented Umar Amin.

This is the first time that uncapped players have been considered.

They both deserved it.

Azhar Ali, a 23 year old batsman from Lahore had a tremendous last year and first caught the eye when he led the scoring charts during the ABN Amro One Day tournament in early 2008.

He is also among the leading scorers of this season in both the first class and List A competitions.

Azhar averages over 50 in both forms of the game and is a great find for Pakistan. He should make his debut this year and is in my opinion the ideal replacement for Mohammad Yousuf in the test side.

Umar Amin is only 19 and created waves at the under-19 level last season with a couple of centuries in youth tests against England and Bangladesh.

This Rawal Pindi boy is only in his second domestic season and has already given smashing performances with the bat in both first class matches as well as List A games.

He is averaging over 50 in 13 List A games and is only behind Shoaib Malik in terms of runs this season.

Umar has a tremendous future ahead of him and this contract should give him the much needed confidence from the powers that be.

Well sometimes the PCB can make some sense after all.

They also showed some sense in retaining Shoaib Malik as the captain of the team for an indefinite period.

Malik's term had expired at the end of 2008 and there was no reason to replace him and rightly so, the PCB didn't.

Its a new year and the PCB has taken a fresh start. It has made some mistakes but then it has put some things right as well.

Malik's in charge and the men have been identified. Hopefully the international series will take place as well Pakistan will play some cricket.

One can only hope for a good international season for Pakistan.

I have a feeling, it will be just that.

Make your pitch on this post...

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8 Pitched:

  1. Anonymous said...

    But Q, isnt Faisal Iqbal Miandad-bhai's nephew or something?
    So, then.
    The street-smart, patriotic Karachiite seems to be not so immune to a little bit of nepotism, isnt it?

  2. Q said...

    Yes he is Raj and that relationship is exactly why he has one of those contracts!

  3. Anonymous said...

    Faisal Iqbal with a category B contract. In hindsight, one might have expected it. Is the media making any noise on this Q?

  4. Q said...

    Not big hue and cry has been made of it.. the papers have just mentioned that Yasir Hameed, Hafeez, and Faisal Iqbal have managd to get B contracts without playing a match last year.

    Thats all.

    The thing is that atleast hameed and hafeez have done well in the domestic season (check the links in the post).. but Faisal?

  5. Anonymous said...

    BTW, isnt Miandad's "samdan" (his progeny's in-law) one with Match fixing links? The match fixing master mind?
    Mind boggles at the possibilities now.

  6. Q said...

    Anonymous - Miandad's son is married to Dawood Ibrahim's daughter if thats what you are referring to.

  7. Abdul said...

    Let me also choose my side for odi’s against Srilanka-a series vital for the future and re-development of Pakistan cricket.

    Salman Butt
    Shaid Afridi
    Younis Khan
    Shoaib Malik
    Misbah Ul huq
    Fawad Alam
    Kamran Akmarl
    Sohail Tanvit
    Mansoor Amjad
    Umar Gul
    Shoaib Akthar


    Nasir Jamshed
    Sohail Khan
    Mohammed Aamer
    Saed Ajmal

    Guys this is not the best team available by far. Only if we could have ICL players we could spice up the line up with players like Imran Nazir , Rana and Yousuf but now we probably have to accept their absence.

    Anyway Kaneria could even be an option due to Miandad and Qadir’s support of his position and role in limited overs cricket. But I have seen his average in the recent one day competetion being over 50! Shorly Mansoor Amjad will be the better option as he’s a wicket taker and can bat and field better to which has to considered in this format.

    Great thread interesting views guys.

    Please visit www.freewebs.com/cricfans123

    Kind reagrds-Abdul

  8. Q said...

    Thats a good team Abdul, but I would never open with Afridi, no matter what.

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