Injustice to top performer Haider in Under-19 World Cup selection

December 26, 2017 | By

By Shahid Hashmi

When Austin Waugh, son of legendary Australian captain, was selected for country’s Under-19 team for the Junior World Cup not an eyebrow was raised. When Will Sutherland, son of Cricket Australia’s chief executive, was included there was no hue and cry.

Similarly when Thando Ntini, son of former South African spearhead Makhaya Ntini, was brought for the Junior World Cup no one criticized. That’s because all the selections in these countries are done on merit. Performance in that age group or the age group below that are taken into account.

Jason Sangha is Australian Under-19 captain who knocked a fighting hundred for CA XI against touring England to become the youngest Australian to hit a first class century. Will Sutherland accepted a multi-year rookie deal with Victoria and abandoned a similar deal with Australian Football League. Austin Waugh had scored an unbeaten hundred in the final of the Under-17 National Championships last year.

Any injustice in these countries is considered a crime, but not in Pakistan. Two of the top performers of Under-19 domestic cricket are treated like persona non grata by the junior selection committee headed by former batsman Basit Ali.

While the temperamental Basit Ali continued to serve as head of the junior selection committee despite his selected team crashed out of the 2016 Junior World Cup, the team coach Mansoor Rana treated the top performers with disdain.

The two players are batsman Haider Ali and fast bowler Mohammad Ali. Both were part of Karachi teams that played the final of the National Under-19 Title earlier this year. While Haider knocked close to 1000 runs in Under-19 events, (500 in one-day matches and as many in three day games), Ali took a National record of 53 wickets, beating Mohammad Sami’s record of 51.

Ali only warmed the bench in Kuala Lumpur while other fast bowlers of lesser records were played in the Asia Cup. Pakistan team did reach the final but lost to Afghanistan in a one-sided match. They had also lost a group match to Afghanistan, who sadly learnt all cricket from us. But Pakistan Cricket Board instead of doing accountability praised the team management.

It is also a fact that only Pakistan team management can treat these top performers roughly. Both were not given a single match in the Under-19 Asia Cup held in Kuala Lumpur last month. To run salt on their wounds, Ali was a last minute inclusion for the Junior World Cup due to start in New Zealand from January 13.

But Haider was discarded like we throw a fly from the milk. A Pushtoon who settled in Karachi eight years ago Haider has a good record in the Under-17 zonal championships and was a leading scorer in the district Under-19 events as well. Such was the step motherly treatment that coach Mansoor Rana did not speak with the top performer as to what was the reason of not playing him and then discarding him to stand-byes.

With criticism on the team’s losing the final to Afghanistan, the selection committee brought back Karachi batsman Ammad Malik and Zaryab Khan. The two players along with captain Hassan Khan were discarded last year by Doctor Mohammad Riaz as they were found over age.

How on earth three players declared over age can be called back a year later. Is the clock turned back on these three players. Did Pakistan Cricket Board made the doctor accountable.

The answer is a big NO.

While everyone is wishing Pakistan team the best of luck for the Junior World Cup, the team selection and injustice to Haider leaves a bad taste in the mouth and prompt the critics to call for shutting down all domestic cricket. There is no use of domestic cricket when its top performers are overlooked.  

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