Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s head coach and chief selector, has criticised fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz for the timing of their retirements from Test cricket. He revealed that the PCB was mulling a policy to ensure that players remain available to play for Pakistan across formats.
Amir gave up Tests in July, in order to manage his workload and extend his white-ball career, for Pakistan as well as in T20 leagues around the world. Wahab followed suit in September, taking an “indefinite break” from red-ball cricket, including the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s domestic first-class tournament.
While Wahab was 34 when he made his decision, Amir was only 27.
The loss of the two experienced left-arm quicks has left Pakistan in a situation where they have been forced to rebuild their pace attack with young and inexperienced options including three teenagers in Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa.
“We are thinking deeply on these lines, and we will make a policy on this very soon,” Misbah said, referring to the loss of experience from Pakistan’s pace stocks. “Going forward this might become a problem for Pakistan, because when you invest so much in the players, on their development, and expect them to give back, they leave the game and it’s not the right way to go about it. Your resources are consumed for their development and we need a certain policy to make sure players should be available for Pakistan first.”
Amir’s case stands out in particular, both for his age and the fact that he enjoyed immense support from the board and the team management during his reintegration following a five-year ban for spot-fixing. He ended his Test career with 119 wickets in 36 Tests at an average of 30.47. His Test career was split into two parts. From his debut as a 17-year-old in July 2009 to the start of his five-year ban, he played 14 Tests, picking up 51 wickets at 29.09. After his return in July 2016, he played 22 Tests, taking 68 wickets at 31.51.
ESPNcricinfo understands that there were discussions ahead of Pakistan’s recent tour of Australia about asking Amir to reconsider his Test retirement, but the plan didn’t go through.
Pakistan are currently sixth on the World Test Championship table with 20 points, earned from the drawn Rawalpindi Test against Sri Lanka. Before that, they lost 2-0 in Australia, in the first Test series under Misbah’s management.
It has not been the smoothest start to Misbah’s time as coach-cum-selector, but he identified a few positives to have emerged nonetheless.
“The biggest plus for us is Babar Azam and our batting, the way we responded in Australia overall,” Misbah said. “His hundred in Rawalpindi and his overall shift from white-ball cricket to red is an important positive for Pakistan at this stage. And at the same time we’ve got a younger bowling attack. The way Shaheen and Naseem are bowling, consistently hitting 140-plus [kph] in good areas. They have ample time in their careers to develop into match-winners. They have played very little cricket so far, but will improve with every passing day.”