The Pakistan cricket board yesterday announced the list of 30 players who will be given central contracts from October 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. Traditionally, central contracts have always been decided on the basis of fitness, seniority and performance moreover, the contracts also indicate the players who are on the radar of the selection committee or are labeled as future prospects. Considering all these factors, there were a lot of surprises in the list. A lot of deserving players were omitted and at the same time there were some surprising inclusions and changes, in comparison to the previous list. So let us take a look at the top 4 omissions from the central contract list.
- Fawad Alam
Fawad Alam has been one of the most consistent performers on the domestic circuit for years now. The left-hand batsman has a first class average of 56.71 with 9641 runs. In addition to his strong first class record, Alam has also performed brilliantly for the national side, whenever he has been given an opportunity. If there is one player who is being wasted due to selection inconsistencies its Fawad Alam. Time and time again, other players have been given preference over him despite his above average performance and the utility he provides to the squad. He has been afforded very few opportunities and has been dropped after just one or two bad performances. With his omission from the central contract list, it is clear that the Fawad Alam doesn’t figure into the plans of the selection committee and isn’t likely to make his comeback anytime soon, unless he has a very prolific first-class season.
- Junaid Khan
In 2013, Junaid Khan was the second highest wicket-taker in the world and highest among fast bowlers. In 28 matches, he picked up 52 wickets at an average of just 21 and an economy rate of 4.88. For a time, he was leading the bowling attack in the absences of Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz. Unfortunately, injury, poor form and stiff competition among left arm fast bowlers, meant that he was dropped from the team. From that point on, he has never been recalled or reconsidered for selection. The prospects of his return were further dimmed when Mohammed Amir was recalled in the test squad for the England series. Even though, the team currently is not short on left arm fast bowlers, the fact is that Junaid Khan is the best among the lot. While many commenters will point out to the fact that Amir and Wahab Riaz are better bowlers, it is, in fact, Junaid who is a more complete as a fast bowler. Fans should remember that despite playing all his test matches in Sub-continent, Junaid has achieved tremendous success and has picked up 71 wickets in 22 test matches at an average of 31 in conditions that are not very friendly for fast bowlers. Despite these stats, though, Junaid was still not given a central contract plus his omission also means that it is unlikely that we will see him back in the team anytime soon.
- Saeed Ajmal
The story of Saeed Ajmal is truly tragic. His treatment at the hands of PCB can itself be a subject of an entirely different article. Ever since Ajmal’s action was banned, it was always going to be difficult for him to remain as potent with a new action. Add to the fact that after the initial few games, he wasn’t given another opportunity to prove his worth. Moreover, the emergence of Yasir Shah meant that the former spin wizard, no longer had the magic to merit his place in the side. Things did start to improve though and Saeed Ajmal yet again began to show the traces of the off spinner the world had known. However, the member of the executive committee of PCB, Najam Sethi, tweeted on social media that Ajmal will be given a grand farewell, clearly indicating the fact that the PCB no longer considered Ajmal an important part of the plan. The tweet drew a strong reaction from Saeed Ajmal who said that he has no plans to retire and he intends to represent the team in the limited formats but with his exclusion from the central contract list, it is very unlikely that this would be possible despite his great performance in the domestic T20 tournament.
- Shahid Afridi
According to some people, the biggest omission from the list is Shahid Afridi however, the move doesn’t come as a surprise as Afridi has clearly stated that he now just wants to play a farewell match and end on a good note. His exclusion clearly means that he is no longer on the radar of the selection committee and it is very unlikely that he comes back in the side for an extended run. This is the first time that the flamboyant all-rounder is not part of the list in over a decade. His exclusion clearly marks the end of an era as sooner or later the star all-rounder will say goodbye to the world of cricket. While it will be sad to see Afridi saying goodbye to the game, his exclusion has paved way for new players like Hassan Ali and Mohammad Asghar, who will now serve the team.
Indeed, there were other big surprises in the central contract list like the inclusion of Harris Sohail in category C and demotion of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal to category D. It would have been better if PCB would have included 35 players instead of thirty and rewarded some other top performers on the domestic circuit. Which of these omissions was the most surprising for you? Leave your opinion in the comments below and stay tuned to GenY.