KARACHI: Pakistan’s experienced all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez’s name was mysteriously omitted from the ODI squad that was announced to face Australia Down Under despite all parties agreeing to his induction including the tour selection committee and the national selection committee led by Inzamam ul Haq, Dawn learnt from reliable sources.
Hafeez, who is allowed to bowl again in international cricket after getting clearance for his action from ICC, has also completely recovered from his knee injury and that is why the touring selection committee convinced chief selector Inzamam to include his name in the final squad.
However, a day later when the ODI team was announced, Hafeez’s name was not there which came as complete surprise to many.
“It is surprising that the national selection committee omitted Hafeez’s name at the last moment despite principally agreeing to it as he could have proved to be an important player against Australia,” a team official told Dawn on condition of anonymity.
“He is bowling again and his value increases greatly because he is a very difficult bowler in shorter formats and with Australia having left-handers in their line-up, he could have been more than handy. Even when he was banned from bowling, Hafeez remained an important contributor so his omission despite unanimous understanding between all stakeholders leaves a big question mark.”
The important stakeholders around the national team have, apparently, not been on the same page and the differences clearly emerged at the time of finalisation of Pakistan’s ODI squad.
The numbers suggest that Hafeez has been a star performer for the Pakistan in the ODIs.
In the last four years Hafeez has topped the charts for most runs in ODIS — amassing 2609 runs in 69 matches at an average of 41.41 with as many seven hundreds and 14 half-centuries.
In the same period, only Ahmad Shahzad has scored four tons while three each has been scored by one-day skipper Azhar Ali and Babar Azam, who wrote himself into record books with three consecutive centuries against West Indies in a recent series, besides the two registered by Sarfaraz Ahmad.
Considering the last two years, only Azhar Ali (1116) and Sarfaraz (1043) have outscored Hafeez, who has 948 runs for 24 matches averaging 41.21 with two centuries and six fifties. He missed major part of 50-over cricket in 2016 — four matches against England and three versus West Indies — with knee injury as he could only play four matches in which he made 166 runs with an average of 41.50.
Hafeez is said to be shocked at the omission and plans to meet Inzamam soon to know the reasons for his snub despite doing well for Pakistan in ODIs for last several years.
Meanwhile the other talking point between the team management and the selectors was regarding the selection of Kamran Akmal as the selectors wanted to include the senior player after a stellar run in domestic season.
However, head coach Arthur resisted Kamran’s inclusion as he wanted to induct youngsters to build the team for future.
Similarly, middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq’s name was added to the ODI squad at the last moment by the selectors.
Some of the senior players of the team are unhappy with Arthur’s dealing and methods as they feel that he is trying to force his ideology on the players while his public shaming of players is dubbed as childish.
“We all saw what happened to theAustralian team when Arthur was their coach and you see similar sort of pattern emerging with Pakistan team as well. He (Arthur) wants to get rid of the seniors while his statements regarding likes of Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Khan have been totally uncalled for given his post. What he should be doing or saying behind doors is being done in front of camera and this leads to bad blood in the dressing room,” a senior player of Pakistan team stated.
“The head coach completely loses his cool when the team fails and whatever he says in the heat of the moment really hurts the players. After whatever he did to Irfan on the England tour when he had developed cramps due to jet leg was appalling. So how can he earn his respect in the ODIs?”