List of contracted players
Category A: Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar
Category B: Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz
Category C: Taufiq Umar, Asad Shafiq, Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Adnan Akmal, Tanvir Ahmed, Junaid Khan
Yesterday the central contracts were awarded and there have been some very questionable categorical criteria which comes under the spotlight.
The fact that Kamran falls in the “A” category is totally absurd and undeserving according to many as far as merit is concerned let alone the negative conception of his off field troubles. He has scored 2 half centuries in his last 13 one day internationals and they too both came in less significant encounters. Not to mention his diabolical keeping performances.
Meanwhile, PKs Test Number 3 Azhar Ali who has been extremely impressive and a true breath of fresh air clearly deserved better than falling under group “C”. He has scored 6 half centuries in just his first 10 Tests and all the time he has scored well they have come in positive outcomes. He is a highly promising long term future prospect which has really won the appreciation of close Test cricketing followers. Tests should arguably also get prioritisation over limited overs affairs and therefore surely Ali deserved to be a category up at least as far as merit and value is concerned.
Taufiq Umar also did extremely well in New Zealand where he notched up 2 half centuries in effectively 3 opportunities and showed a great deal of mental strength, guts and application. He seems to be a good solution to the opening woes in the 5 day game and is even an excellent contender to be groomed as vice captaincy in that format as is Azhar Ali. Both these names deserve to be given a higher degree of priority and investment.
Meanwhile, it was good to see the seniors get the respect they deserve and are acknowledged with top brand contracts which include Younis, Misbah and Akhtar. This time last year it seemed as if their careers were over but they have bounced back hard and shown their class and experience in particular Misbah who has been nothing but exceptional since taking over the reins of Test Captaincy and sensationally changed the fortunes and structure of the well developing and achieving outfit as well as establishing his presence, attributable assets and reputation as a top class ODI player as well.
He (Misbah) has clearly been the stand out performer and revelation during his golden years as a comeback king with admirable responsibility and consistency. Some of the credentials he has are not even comparable to past greats and players like him are found in rare proportions especially by Pakistani sides and therefore it is of utmost significance PK take full advantage of his services which remain. Consideirng the tough manner in which he was treated earlier in his career where he was really unlucky to be overshadowed and the form he is showing presently this could be justifiably stretching another few years which will be beneficial from a team perspective.
All in all, it was a mixed bag. Some of it was pleasing. Some of it was reasonable. Some of it was questionable. Some of it was insulting. Either way, hopefully the scheme will be beneficially motivating and successful in helping bring the best out of the named figures on the pitch in the months and years which lie ahead as we as providing them with financial re-assurance.