In Pakistan, off the field performance weighs more than on the field performance: Asim Kamal

Asim Kamal Inzamam Ul Haq Fawad Alam
File Photo - AFP

Pakistan’s former middle order batsman Asim Kamal, who was excluded from Pakistan national team after playing only 12 tests despite an impressive record, believes as long as the current cabinet is operational in Pakistan Cricket Board, Fawad Alam’s chances for returning in the national team do not seem bright.

“With the current cabinet in charge, the chances of Fawad Alam’s return to Pakistan team seems near to impossible,” told Asim Kamal. “However, I would advise him to keep fighting and keep proving his worth with his bat. The fortunes may turn into his favour in future,” he added.

Asim Kamal maintained a healthy average of 37.73 runs in the 12 Test matches he played for Pakistan, which also featured 99 in his debut inning followed by seven half-centuries. He last played for Pakistan in 2005 in a Test against England. It has been around 13 years since he got dumped by the selectors, the reasons behind his snubbing are still unknown and the mystery is yet to be solved.

The 41-year old is unable to understand all the hue and cry from media and fans for Fawad Alam as it has been a norm in Pakistan cricket of dropping anyone who the authorities do not like. Kamal brushed off the allegations of ignoring players over ethnicities and told that the problem is much severe. He quoted the example of Yasir Hameed, who was arguably the best opener of his age and belonged to KPK.

“It is not the first time that it is happening, it has happened in the past as well with the players who had phenomenal performances not only in domestic cricket but at the international stage as well,” he stated. “Fawad is being ignored because of the flawed system, players are being selected on personal liking and disliking, performances have a small part in selection criteria. Merit has always been murdered in Pakistan,” he went on to say.

The former left-handed batsman believes that to remain under authorities’ radar and in the team, you have to be a good performer on the field as well as off the field. Players play with uncertainties and are not sure if this inning will prove to be their last inning, moreover, players spend their lives thinking the reason for being dropped from the team.

“In Pakistan team, off the field performance weighs much more than the on the field performances, and the ones who are good at performing outside the ground are able to cement their places in the team,” Said Asim Kamal. “No one tells you why you are dropped, everything is done secretly, and players play all their innings as their last inning, there is no certainty whether he will be selected again or not, these confusions ruin players’ performance,” he shared.

Youngsters, who grow up dreaming about playing for Pakistan, end up hurting when they are unjustly victimized by the selectors or the authorities. They dedicate their life to wear the star on their chest and make the country proud. But, when they are treated like this, they may end up getting mentally and emotionally disturbed. One of such players was Farhan Adil, who deeply wounded by the board’s behaviour in spite of being an exceptional batting talent.

“I would name Farhan Adil, he would have been one of the greatest batsmen for Pakistan had he played, but he was snubbed by the selectors just after one Test that made him mentally upset. He was a classy player, I even dare to say that if he had played properly, he might have become a bigger star than Mohammad Yousuf and others,” he told.

Talking about his mental and emotional condition, he thanked God for the blessings.

“God’s blessing and my parents’ prayers have saved me from any sort of depression, but they did not leave any stone unturned to make me mentally unstable. They don’t care about it, they are getting everything they need and this is all that matters to them,” he added.

Pakistan never stop surprising the world with incredibly talented players. However, they are also known for wasting these talents and not grooming them into world-beating products. Whereas, Kamal believes PCB is great at grooming budding cricketers if these players are in their good books.

“It is being said about the PCB that they don’t groom players, whereas the truth is that they groom whoever they want and when they do not want to polish someone, they will just not give them enough opportunities like they did with me, Fawad Alam and Yasir Hameed” he revealed.

Often, the reason given for Asim Kamal’s exclusion from the squad is that Pakistan team then had world class middle-order batsmen like Younis Khan, Inzamam Ul Haq and Mohammad Yousuf and there was no spot for a newcomer. However, the ignored star performer questioned the greatness of players if they did not leave decedents behind that could take the charge of the team in their absence. He also mentioned that all these legendary players were concerned about their own place in the team.

“Great players are meant to give their team performers that can take the charge after them. Our legendary players always feared that this player will replace us in the team,” he told.

He questioned board’s criteria for selecting players on T20s performance, their striking power and fitness. He believes with these gauges, Pakistan will not be able to produce any world class player in the near future and it was Younis Khan’s and Misbah Ul Haq’s own efforts that got them to the height of fame.

“There is no planning, you are selecting Test side from the T20 format. It will result in mediocre players, there will not be any world class players in Pakistan in the near future and the team’s performance will remain the same. If a player is able to hit a 106 meter six then he is a capable player, it is how the dynamics have changed,” he stated.

On the other hand, all around the world, players who have done well in the longest format of the game, have also performed in the shorter formats be it Virat Kohli of India, AB de Villiers of South Africa or the tainted skipper Steve Smith of Australia. However, the things are other way around in Pakistan.

“If you see around the world, the top performers in Test cricket are their star performers in T20s be it Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers. The situation is other way around in Pakistan, the reason for that is people who are there to make strategies are just hollowing the whole cricketing system of the country,” said Asim Kamal.

He believes all the problems in Pakistan cricket is because of power game. They do not want top performers in the side, as they will be tough to control.

“All problems are because of the rift for power, it is the same panel that comes back into the circuit after every few days. They intentionally keep ordinary players in the team who can easily be replaced and then reinstate in the team when they needed,” he shared.

He has a solution to rectify the system. He suggested there should be recently retired and capable players in the management like Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan. He pointed towards the people who have been there in the system for ages and have done nothing but make it weaker.

“System is fine, there is just lack of implementation. As they have a policy to select youngsters in the side, there should be an age limit for the management as well. There are people sitting in the system that have spent their whole lives there doing nothing for the game in the country. There should be players like Younis Khan and Misbah Ul Haq in the board,” he suggested.

Asim Kamal advised youngsters to focus on their studies primarily, if they want to play cricket, they will have to adapt the popular mindset of the cricketing circuit. Otherwise, no matter how talented you are, you will not last long.

“My message to youngsters is that if you are good at studies then find a decent job and stay happy or you will just waste your time. If you do not have the same mentality as them, you won’t survive long,” he said.

Asim Kamal believes if you are honest with your passion and country, you will earn the respect of fans. He advised all the players and the authorities to remain true to their jobs and place Pakistan above their personal priorities.

“I have always tried to be honest to my passion, my country and give my best, it is not necessary that you have fans after playing 100 Tests, if you love and respect your country, the country will give it back to you. All players and concerned authorities need to think about the country, if they will think about themselves and just focus on earning, the things will get worse for Pakistan cricket,” he concluded.