Inzamam unlikely to retain Test spot
By Khalid Hussain
KARACHI: National cricket officials are unlikely to allow former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq extend his Test career when Pakistan will host South Africa for a full series this fall.
A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official confided in ‘The News’ that it has almost been decided in principle not to retain Inzamam in Pakistan’s Test squad, a move that would be a signal for the veteran batsman that he should just let go. “The people forming the PCB think-tank are more or less convinced that Inzamam should not be a part of Pakistan’s Test squad,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Inzamam, 37, resigned as captain and announced his retirement from one-day cricket after leading Pakistan’s disastrous World Cup campaign in the Caribbean last month when they lost to the West Indies and minnows Ireland and were knocked out of the contest’s opening round.
The master batsman, however, kept alive his hope of extending his Test career by saying that he still feels good enough to play the longer version of the game.
Top Board officials, however, do not agree.
They believe Inzamam is now over-the-hill and also blame him for Pakistan’s humiliating World Cup performance. The Board and the members of the newly-appointed national selection committee believe that it is time Pakistan brought in new faces in a bid to rebuild the squad for the 2011 World Cup to be played in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Inzamam is easily one of the most accomplished Pakistani batsmen of all time having scored 8813 runs from 119 Test appearances at a handsome average of 50.07 with the help of 25 tons and 46 fifties. His one-day career spanned over 378 games in which he scored 11739 runs with ten centuries and 83 fifties.
But in recent times, Inzamam had cut a sorry figure on the field, having lost his golden form that had made him one of the most prolific batsmen in international cricket. A chronic back problem had added to the woes of a player who has always been a below average fielder and a bad runner between the wickets.
Off the field, Inzamam was blamed by his critics for his unimpressive leadership skills while several others believed he had become an autocratic captain. He did play a domineering role in team selection and is blamed for including under-performers like all-rounder Azhar Mahmood in Pakistan’s World Cup squad.
Sentimentalists, however, want a swansong for Inzamam during the home Test series against South Africa during Sep-Oct this year. They argue that Inzamam has achieved a lot during his illustrious career and deserves to bow out of Test cricket in style.
But the PCB official pointed out that at this juncture, Pakistan cricket needs to look beyond individuals and take decisions in the best interest of the team.
“We need to work for collective interest because personal milestones mean nothing when it comes to the future of our team,” he said.
The official said that Inzamam should have taken a bold decision like West Indian great Brian Lara, who announced his retirement from international cricket after failing to take his team into the World Cup semifinals.
“Lara was a great player and he could have still played for one more year. But he knew that it was time that the West Indies moved forward without him and decided to make way for a youngster. Inzamam should have done the same,” the official added.