Taufeeq Umar's omission is shocking

Taufeeq Umar should have been an automatic choice into the Pakistan Test squad © Getty Images

By Aamir Sohail

I feel the selectors have missed an excellent opportunity to give some of the youngsters a chance to have a taste of international cricket during the forthcoming tour of Zimbabwe. They have missed the opportunity to blood youngsters and to see how they fare in international cricket. Instead, we see a number of familiar faces being picked yet again — players who, in my opinion, aren’t up to the mark.

The decision to drop Taufeeq Umar is a shocker. There are 10 or 11 players who I feel are automatic choices in the Pakistan Test squad, and Taufeeq is one of them. His omission is confusing. When selectors are pressured, they make adjustments to the squad with regard to individuals, instead of planning ahead.

There is also the element of continuity and stability. Taufeeq and Mohammad Hafeez had forged a good partnership and understanding at the top of the order. Now that has been ended. Taufeeq’s record in the region is also very good. That is all the more why his omission is inexplicable. I’m puzzled and shocked at the decision. It really doesn’t make any sense.

Nasir Jamshed impressed me since he made his comeback into the Pakistan side. He’s batted well in the shorter formats, and I think he has the makings of being a regular in the Test side also. The reason why I believe Nasir can become an integral member of the Pakistan Test side is that he is one of the few Pakistani batsmen who can cut and pull well. He has the ability to deal with short-pitched bowling. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of Pakistani batsmen perform well in the shorter formats, but struggle in Test cricket mainly because they had no idea of how to handle short-pitched bowling.

By dropping a young cricketer after two Test matches that were played in unfamiliar conditions is not helping anybody, particularly the young man himself. It will shatter his confidence in the long run. And these are exactly the sort of short-term decisions that the selectors should be avoiding.

Wahab Riaz been selected for the Test squad. On what basis? Has he shown any degree of improvement? Not in my opinion. He’s been dropped from the One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 squads and it seems his selection in the Test squad is a softener from the selection committee. Have his performances in domestic cricket been monitored to justify his inclusion in the Test squad? I don’t think so. I’ve seen Wahab bowling in domestic cricket; it wasn’t a pretty sight. It’s very rarely that Wahab performs well in domestic cricket. I’m puzzled with his selection in the Test squad.

Pakistan’s domestic circuit is making our cricketers look better than what they actually are. The current format is producing a number of cricketers who, sadly, aren’t of an international standard and yet picked. These players score heaps of runs and take lots of wickets in domestic cricket, but are found wanting when it comes to international cricket. This is just typical of a system that needs an overhaul and a re-think.

I don’t agree with Umar Akmal playing as the wicketkeeper in the shorter formats. He’s a fine batsman, but the problem I have with this is that he’s not even keeping wicket in club cricket in Pakistan or in First-Class cricket. To expect someone like that to keep wicket only in international cricket is ridiculous. He needs to be keeping wicket at every opportunity in every match that he plays in if they want to make him the permanent choice as wicketkeeper for Pakistan.

I think it’s the right decision to send him to Singapore with the Under-23s, but I don’t think he should have been appointed captain. Picking cricketers as captain should be based upon a theory of whether the selectors and Board think that a player has the capability of captaining Pakistan at a senior level and I’m not sure that is the case with Hammad Azam.

Hammad has to prove himself. He’s at a crossroads and at the moment he’s not good enough in any facet of the game to warrant selection. Is he a batsman who bowls a bit? I’m not sure. He really needs to work on his game to establish himself. There’s improvement to be made and a lot of hard work ahead for Hammad if he is to play on a regular basis for Pakistan.

Umar Amin looks a very talented cricketer to me. He’s got that sparkle in his eyes; he’s itching to do well. There’s a desire and hunger in his cricket and these are all good signs. Sadly, Umar has not been given too many opportunities. And this is where I’m delighted that Mohammad Hafeez gave Umar a chance to bat at No 3 in the Twenty20 format. At the Champions Trophy, Umar should have been batting higher up the order than he was, as he looked one of the few Pakistani batsmen who was in form. But for some reason, Misbah didn’t give Umar a proper chance. However, I hope that Umar can establish himself as he is a batsman with immense potential.

At the end of the day, the Decision Review System (DRS) is a man-made technology. It will never be perfect. Cricketers and administrators have to realise that instead of thinking that it is the be-all and end-all for decision making. It will especially be not perfect if it’s in the wrong hands.

(Aamir Sohail is a former Pakistan captain who played 47 Tests and 156 One-Day Internationals between 1992 and 2000. The above column has been reproduced with permission from PakPassion.net, where it first appeared)