Alam not selected on merit, claims Inzamam

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Lahore: Pakistan chief selector Inzamamul Haq on Tuesday has rejected criticism for not selecting left-handed batsman Fawad Alam for the upcoming Test tour of Ireland and England in May.

Alam, who has a first-class average of 55.36 in 145 matches, the best in the history of Pakistan’s domestic cricket, was once again overlooked in the 16-member squad which was announced on Sunday.

The 32-year-old was able to make it into the 25-man initial Test camp but couldn’t break into the last 16, instead five uncapped players — Fakhar Zaman, Usman Salahuddin, Saad Ali, Imamul Haq and Faheem Ashraf — were named in the contingent, which will play one-off Test against Ireland before playing a two five-day matches against England.

The one-off Test against Ireland kicks-off from May 11 in Dublin.

The omission of the 32-year-old, who had four outstanding seasons in the Quaid-e-Azam (QeA) trophy — Pakistan’s premier four-day event — where he had averages of 40.71, 55.54, 56 and 71.90 respectively, saw Inzamam receive heavy criticism from different sections of the cricketing circles.

However, Inzamam rejected the criticism and claimed that the southpaw was omitted on merit.

“Alam is an outstanding player, but in the last three years, there are others at the top of the list as well,” said Inzamam while talking to ESPNCricinfo. “Alam was here because he is a good player, but during the nets, we found Saad Ali to be better, and the decision to prefer Saad was unanimous, with input from all the coaching staff and captain.”

He further explained: “We obviously can’t ignore Alam’s career average, which is why he was brought into the camp. During my tenure, I have given 12 to 14 players an opportunity and none of them have disappointed us. If you look back in the past three seasons, there are players who have scored more runs than Alam. Last season, we had tough bowling conditions in the QeA, and Ali was the stand-out performer and that is why he was preferred.”

Former Pakistan captain then presented a skewed view of his selection policy by saying that other things matter too while selecting player, without naming them, except scores and statistics.

“Dropping any player doesn’t mean we are disregarding them. It’s easy to pick players following scorecards or statistics, but there are many more things we take into consideration. I am not sure why Alam wasn’t picked in the past before me, but if you ask me about my tenure as chief selector, I have seen better players.”

Inzamam then assured that the doors of the national team are not closed for anyone, including Alam, who has not represented the Men in Green in any format since 2015.

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