Javed`s Impulsive Punt Could Be Costly

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pakistan Cricket Academy coach Aaqib Javed's remarks that Anwar Ali and Mohammad Talha are "definitely Test material" and "ready for Pakistan duty" respectively are of alarming concern.

"We have a few exceptional fast bowlers in the Pakistan Academy side and at least one of them - Anwar Ali - is now ready to play Test cricket,"
Javed told the News, going on to enthuse about Talha's international prospects.

Regardless of their promising performances on the academy's recent tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya, 20-year-old Ali and 19 year-old Talha are not the answer to their nation's pace-bowler woes.

Having made his Test debut as a teenager, Javed struggled for a lengthy stint as his developing body suffered through the rigours of the big arena before coming into its own under the watchful guidance of legendary duo Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. He should know better than any that premature international selection can do more to harm a young fast bowler than it can help.

Furthermore, Ali and Talha would be severely short on expert guidance should they take to the big stage this year or the next. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif are about the closest thing Pakistan have to the mentoring role Waqar and Wasim played in Javed's budding career; neither of them can be considered ideal role models, on or off the field.

Anwar has already shown Shoaib-esque misbehaviour, recently fined for overstaying his welcome at a Nairobi nightclub, breaking the team's curfew and the management's trust. The last thing the soap-operatic team needs at this pinnacle juncture is another jaunting hothead in their ranks, racking up the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Notorious for selecting youngsters, particularly green fast bowlers, and then tossing them aside after one or two average caps, the selectors really need not heed Aaqib's impulsive punt. Rather allow for the rookie duo's potential, temperament and physique to grow on the domestic circuit unitil they are ripe for the picking.

Pakistan's dearth of fixtures allows for plenty of time for Umar Gul's recovery from injury, Yasir Arafat and Iftikhar Rao's growth with the new ball and perhaps a second chance for a host of one-cap wonders. There is simply no need for the extremity of Javed's wishes.

Meanwhile, an experienced trio of seamers - Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved and Abdul Razzaq - bask in successful seasons with Sussex, Yorkshire and Surrey respectively and ready for a second lucrative stint in the Indian Cricket League, smugly giving the stubborn PCB food for thought on their unrelenting stance on ICL defectors.

"The ban on ICL players could be lifted worldwide or the PCB officials could be replaced and the new set of officials may decide to lift the ban,"
Razzaq told pakpassion.net recently.
"Just look at county cricket. Initially we were banned but now that it has been lifted, I'm playing for Surrey. So it's not impossible to think that I could be playing for the ICL and the PCB by this time next year."

If the exiled all-rounder's hopes are anything to go by, Pakistan's fast-bowler famish might see a welcome influx sooner rather than later, and Ali, Talha and the like left to earn their place rather than have it gifted due to others' injury, ill discipline or blatant bias.

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