The former world cup winning captain Imran Khan once claimed that other cricketing nations find and polish talent due to their strong domestic cricket system. On the other hand, in Pakistan, players and talent come through the ranks in spite of the broken system that is in place. He then went on to tell the story of how he found Inzamam Ul Haq and selected him to play the 1992 world cup due to which a selector resigned. While Inzamam Ul Haq was lucky enough to get the attention of the former captain, not all batsmen in Pakistan can say the same. Over the years the broken domestic system, a lack of eye for talent and selection inconsistencies have meant that a lot of good batsmen were wasted by Pakistan. In the past, we looked at some of the fast bowlers that Pakistan failed to utilize, today let us go into history and take a look at some of the batsmen that Pakistan failed to utilize.
- Yasir Hameed
Since the retirement of Saeed Anwer and Aamer Sohail, Pakistan has struggled to find a proper opening combination. The search for a proper opener was almost over after Yasir Hameed made centuries in consecutive innings on his test debut, becoming only the second player to achieve this impressive feat. His exploits in the shorter format were even better. Add to the fact that he had a batting technique more solid than many recent top-order Pakistani batsmen and it seemed like Pakistan had finally found a solution for their top order woes. However, despite an amazing start, Hameed was never quite given a permanent spot as an opener in the team. Selection inconsistencies meant that he was dropped after scoring two fifties in a Test at Sydney. After that he was afforded very few opportunities and even though, he made some valuable contributions and kept on performing in the domestic circuit, he could never regain his place in the side. In a recent interview, Yasir Hameed claimed that he stills wants to make a return to the team but at an age of 37, we doubt if that is even possible.
- Faisal Iqbal
Like Yasir Hameed, Faisal Iqbal was also a promising batting prospect for Pakistan to look forward to. His first stint with the test team was criticized on the basis of nepotism as he is the nephew of the former great batsman Javed Miandad. However, in his second stint Faisal truly showed his value when he scored his maiden test century against India and helped Pakistan to win the match. Even though, he played some notable innings, yet again like Hameed, he was dropped from the team consistently. This constant in and out of the team curtailed his momentum and in 2010 he played his final test in Sydney. Faisal did make a return to the squad in 2012 against Sri Lanka and when Misbah Ul Haq was injured, it was expected that he would take his place in the side. However, the selectors and the team management stuck the final nail in the coffin and opted to play Ayub Doger instead. With the selection committee now pushing for young talent, it is very unlikely that Faisal Iqbal will make his return to the team despite having a first class average of over 40.
- Taufeeq Umar
A stylish left-hand opener, Taufeeq Umar was another batsman who made an immediate impact on the international scene. He scored a century on his test debut against Bangladesh however; his more impressive performance came against Australia where he managed to score an 89 against a world class bowling line up. This was followed by a brilliant 135 against South Africa in Cape Town. He continued his good run in the home series against South Africa where he managed to score three fifties and a century in 4 innings. Unfortunately, loss of form against India in 2004 meant that he soon lost his place in the team. A four-year hiatus from the side and association with ICL led many fans to believe that he would never make his return but in 2010 Taufeeq was recalled for the test series against South Africa. He performed brilliantly and even scored a double century against Sri Lanka in 2011, becoming only the seventh Pakistani opener to achieve this milestone. Despite performing decently and scoring 3 centuries, after making his return, Taufeeq Umar was eventually dropped from the side. He did make his return for one test match in 2014 against New Zealand but was unable to cement his place. Due to presence of Sami Aslam and Shan Masood, it is unlikely that Taufeeq Umar will figure into the plans of the selectors.
- Imran Nazir
Most readers will express their displeasure in the comments about Imran Nazir’s inclusion on this list. Many people will even point out to the fact that he averages only 24.61 in 79 ODI’s. While Imran Nazir had a tendency to give his wicket away, his aggressive mindset and hard hitting batting style often helped Pakistan to get off to a good start. The reason why Imran Nazir is included among the wasted batsmen is that in countries like England, Australia, and New Zealand, players with an aggressive approach like Imran Nazir are always polished and encouraged to play their natural game. Nazir did give his wicket away on a number of occasions, however, if he would have been guided and given a more extended run as an opener he could have lived up to his promise. Furthermore, Imran Nazir was tailor made for the T20 format but even in the shortest version of the game, he was never given enough opportunities to prove his worth. As Wasim Akram pointed out after Pakistan’s defeat in the third test against England, the real problem for Pakistan cricket is not the lack of talent, on the contrary, it is how the talent is not polished and groomed to thrive at the international stage. Similarly, Imran Nazir’s had a natural flair to his batting but he was never guided enough to become a force in international cricket.
- Fawad Alam
Normally, if one would describe an Asian batsmen’s style, he would always associate words like elegance and flair, however, none of these words can be used to describe Fawad Alam. There is nothing fancy about the left-handers batting style instead Alam’s batting style can be described as function over form. Perhaps this is the reason why Alam has never been able to retain his place in the team despite supporting an ODI average of over 40 and a first class average of 56.71 with 9641 runs. Furthermore, like some of the other batsmen on this list Fawad Alam also scored a century on his test debut. All these stats would put even a legend to shame, however, in a country where flashy players are worshiped; Fawad Alam has always been upstaged by the likes of Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, and Asad Shafiq. This stigma attached to his batting means that he has been afforded very few opportunities when compared to other young batsmen but Alam has always performed whenever he has been given a chance. At the age of thirty, Fawad Alam has still a lot of cricket left plus the fact that he is a more than a handy left-arm spinner and one of the best fielders on the domestic circuit means that he can still make a comeback to the side.
Indeed, all of the batsmen mentioned on this list could have solved Pakistan’s batting problems in international cricket but a lack of opportunities and support for talent is one of the primary reasons why Pakistan cricket is declining. Which one of those batsmen was your favorite? Leave your opinion in the comments and keep following GenY.