Are we wasting Shehz-fie?

He’s also called the Pakistani Virat Kohli (minus a little talent and Anushka Sharma by the side of course). He’s young, stylish and confident, to the extent of even being cocky at times. He’s a selfie addict and also considered as Boom Boom Afridi’s best buddy in the side.

Apart from all that is said, Ahmed Shehzad is Pakistan’s 216th international test and 172nd one-day player. In terms of ODIs specifically, Shehzad is the 3rd highest run-scorer for Pakistan in the last 12 months after Muhammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali. In T20’s he’s been the highest run-scorer in the last 12 months for Pakistan making 200 runs in 8 innings with 1 out of the only 4 fifties scored by Pakistani players during that time. Combining all 3 formats of the game in international cricket, Ahmed Shehzad is the 5th highest run getter for Pakistan over the last 12 months. His ODI career average is better than Muhammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfaraz Ahmed and even the freshly retired Younis Khan. In ODIs in the UAE, he averages better than Misbah, Azhar, Sarfaraz, Shoaib, Umar Akmal and Younis Khan. By the way, Shehzad’s average in ODIs over the last 12 months is just 2 runs less than Virat Kohli over the same period.

Having said all that, the selfie king from Lahore still could not be able to make it to the final eleven in 3 out of the 4 ODIs against England in UAE in the recently concluded series which Pakistan lost. One couldn’t understand the reason why Shehzad wasn’t featured in any of the first 3 games and why such a bizarre team combination was persisted with. The Team management was happy opening the innings with Azhar Ali (who made a total of 82 runs in 4 innings) along with Bilal Asif and Babar Azam over the first 3 games, they were happy playing 2 wicket keepers in the playing eleven. What they were not happy somehow with was Ahmed Shehzad playing in the side.

“Ahmed was dropped from the ODIs as he wasn’t needed in the playing eleven,” said Haroon Rasheed. Why wasn’t he needed? Were they happy with their mediocre performance especially in the 2nd and 3rd ODI? Or was Pakistan’s track record of winning ODI series in the UAE so great that they could risk experimenting as much as they could.

I am in no way advocating the fact that Ahmed Shehzad could’ve surely won Pakistan the ODI series against England single-handedly had he played in all the games but the fact of the matter is that having a player in the pool with talent as much as Shehzad has and not giving him consistent chances to play is only going to hurt Pakistan in the long run. Ahmed Shehzad is no A.B. De Villiers or even Virat Kohli for that matter but neither A.B. De Villiers nor Virat Kohli became what they are today without getting consistent chances to play for their side and support from the team management.

Attitude issues are with a lot of players, but it is the management’s responsibility to either fix the issues through counseling or taking concrete action against the individual and accepting the very fact that there are issues to start off with. Shoaib Akhtar is a prime example of a super talent wasted due to the fact that he wasn’t ‘handled with care’. The Rawalpindi express could’ve done much more for Pakistan had he been managed properly by the team managements and boards at that times. Andrew Symonds on the other hand is another example where Cricket Australia took concrete action against him once and for all for violating their code of conduct.

Waqar Younus is a great ambassador of cricket and a true legend for Pakistan, however he needs to understand that he is a coach now and not a player and players do demand and deserve to be treated in a certain manner by the team management. It’s high time that the board looks in the matter seriously why only Waqar Younus has issues with several players in the side, be it Ahmed Shehzad, Shahid Afridi, Sarfaraz Ahmed or Younis Khan. It’s ok not to succumb to player power and pressure, but ‘coach power’ isn’t something that should also be encouraged in a side.

Hammad A. Mateen

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