So PCB released the list of contracted players yesterday for the 2016-17 season. Several questions came into my mind as I read the list: “What?” and also, “What?”
There are indeed quite a few surprises in the list that is the highlight of most sports publications today. Mohammad Amir has been given a B category contract straight off the bat even though it hasn’t been 3 months since he started playing all 3 formats, and his performances have been largely insignificant. Speaking of category B, it’s the same as awarded to one Asad Shafiq, the poor lad who has been performing quite handsomely for the past six years now, and perhaps merits more than to be put in the same category as fresh returners. Wahab Riaz has also been put in B, in spite of the fact that he too has been playing all three formats ever since Amir exited the scene unceremoniously in 2010.
These two, Asad and Wahab, have had to see Yasir Shah and Sarfraz Ahmad above them in category A, even though both were selected on a regular basis only after 2013. I’m not saying their contracts aren’t justified, just that Asad and Wahab also deserve better if we are measuring by the same yardstick.
Moving on, we see that PCB have given a contract to Haris Sohail, whose knee operation was not as successful and means he’ll be out injured for longer still. What is up with that? If the player is not eligible for selection in the next 6 to 8 months why give him a contract? And the fact that they left out Junaid Khan, a constantly ignored bowler who has given his all for the country in the past and makes himself available for selection for every series, is ridiculous. Anwar Ali still has a contract, but not Junaid Khan. I mean, what?
Further still, we see that Saeed Ajmal and Afridi were not given contracts, which seems fair, but also that Shan Masood still has a contract, and Mohammad Hafeez is still in category A! I mean, if you have taken a conscious decision to make someone a limited overs player only, why put him in A? Shan Masood is not even a guarantee in 16-member squads, let alone the playing eleven, and he gets a contract. Seriously, what?
We know the PCB is prone to have episodes like these every once in a while, but playing with the players’ future and making them reconsider ever representing their country is not what we want. Asad Shafiq and Wahab Riaz have been hard workers and a two of the best players around the team for a long period now. To put them in the same category as Amir is demeaning. Junaid Khan has been a victim of selectors’ inexplicable preference for Amir over him, and still makes himself available for every series. Wasting a talent like him is shameful. Hopefully we can see a turnaround in their treatment of him, and Pakistan team can continue further in its success, irrespective of events outside the field.