Wahab Riaz has said he doesn’t know what “issues” the current selection committee have with senior players after he was left out of the Pakistan squads to play England and West Indies in the coming weeks.
The 36 year old left-arm quick believes that players of his vintage are being overlooked by the panel, which is headed by Muhammad Wasim and the head coach, Misbah-ul-Haq, quite an insinuation considering Misbah played his last ODI at 41 and his final Test at 43.
Pakistan are due to play six white-ball matches on their tour of England and two Tests and five T20s in the Caribbean but Wahab, who has played 154 times for his country across all formats, will not be adding to that number.
However, his outrage seems to have been well-timed as he is being drafted into the Hundred to play for the Skips-emblazoned yellow of the Trent Rockets, which should prove a convenient and lucrative alternative to international representation.
The scheduling of The Hundred and Pakistan’s tour to the West Indies directly conflict, as the new tournament dominates the heart of the English summer Curiously, while he hops on the franchise bandwagon, his 21-year-old fast-bowling international team-mate Shaheen Shah Afridi, a fellow left-arm quick, has hopped off. Afridi, it seems, prefers to be sunkissed in the Caribbean playing for his country rather than being “Butterkist” in Birmingham with the Phoenix.
Afridi is not alone, as a string of international stars have, for various reasons, eschewed the alluring crinkle of the ECB crisp. Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Marcus Stoinis and Jhye Richardson, Kiwi captain Kane Williamson and South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada have all left gaps to fill and opportunities for the likes of Wahab.
That did not stop Wahab from being highly indignant about being ignored for both tours – especially after an impressive showing in the Pakistan Super League. He led Peshawar Zalmi to the final, where they lost to Multan Sultans, but he finished as the second-highest wicket-taker with 18 scalps to his name.
“Obviously, I am disappointed at my exclusion from the England and WI tours after my recent performances,” Wahab, who represented Pakistan in three ODI World Cups in 2011, 2015 and 2019, told reporters in Lahore.
“I don’t know exactly what issue people have with senior players. Perhaps youngsters listen to what is told to them, while seniors always have their own say in matters and you have to convince them.”
Wahab, who is by some distance the PSL’s highest all time wicket- taker – 94 wickets in 67 matches – still harbours dreams of making the Pakistan squad for the T20 World Cup, to be held in UAE and Oman in October this year.
“I have not given up hope of playing in the World T20 this year and I think senior players, as long as they are fit and performing, should be considered for selection,” he said.
One can certainly sympathise with Wahab on any issue of ageism. England’s venerable Test strikeforce of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad has a combined age of 73 while the eternal Darren Stevens continues to take wickets and make runs in county cricket at 45. Indeed, there is a long list of “seniors” – 36 or over – still cutting it at Test level, including Tim Paine, Wriddhiman Saha, Ross Taylor and Pakistan’s Azhar Ali.
However, whilst his international colleagues are battling the West Indies, Wahab will be skipping over the rope to play for the Rockets. Every cloud, it seems, has a silver lining.