August 28, 2011

Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has questioned the decision to rest fast bowlers Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe saying it would hamper their growth as bowlers.

“I don’t mind taking Zimbabwe lightly and giving chances to youngsters,” Akram told AFP, “but it is surprising that you rest Riaz who has just started his career a year ago and is progressing. He doesn’t need rest.”

The Pakistan selectors also omitted seamer Tanvir Ahmed, and instead chose to go with an inexperienced pace attack comprising Sohail Khan, Sohail Tanvir, debutant Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan. Commenting on the selection, chief selector Mohsin Khan had said the fresh look to the squad was an effort to blood youngsters. However Akram said the tour would have been a good opportunity for Riaz to continue his development and for Gul to regain his form.

“I have seen that out-of-form paceman get back to form by playing easier teams, but here we have rested the two main pacemen and they were allowed to play county cricket, instead of doing the national duty,” Wasim said. “The idea to groom a young paceman is to give him more and more opportunities and not to rest him. Riaz needs opportunities and it’s not wise for him to rest at this stage.”

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Riaz, who has played seven Tests and 22 ODIs for Pakistan, was the leading wicket-taker for Kent in the Friends Life t20 competition with 20 wickets from 13 games while Gul picked up 12 wickets from eight games for Sussex.

Wasim said teams like India and Australia who played continuously could afford to rest key players, unlike Pakistan whose cricket calendar is not as packed. “If we see India giving rest to their key players, it’s understandable because they play too much cricket throughout the year but Pakistan rarely plays Tests and here we are without our rising paceman.”

Akram praised the selection of 31-year-old Cheema, who was rewarded for his solid performances on the domestic circuit. “Cheema has been leading wicket-taker in Pakistan’s domestic season, so he deserved a chance but there should be more consistency in selection,” he said.

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Akram also said that Pakistan still needed the services of former captain Shahid Afridi who announced his retirement from international cricket following a dispute with the Pakistan board. “I won’t speak much on the issue but Afridi is needed,” Akram said. “He has a lot of cricket left in him and he can still do a lot for the Pakistan team.”

Courtesy: ESPN STAR

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