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The Wahab Question!

Mickey Arthur seems to have spelled an end to Wahab's Pakistan career

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There were three distinct parts of Micky Arthur’s response when asked about Wahab’s exclusion from the 25 man squad. Let’s ignore the statement at 1st and just look at why he was dropped. The aim perhaps was to further jolt Wahab Riaz out of his ‘comfort zone’. Will it have the desired result? Only time will tell but Waqar Younus has this compliant of complacency of Riaz too. Now, with growing options Micky and the selection panel has decided it is time to at least deliver a strong enough message. Message through dropping out of the squad, would have perhaps suffice.

Cricketers, making provocative statements will not help anyone, especially Kashmiris

But Micky went a step further and quite openly question Wahab’s performance over the past 24 months, his commitment to training, and his capabilities. So, what is that message? Your Pakistan career is done? It did seem like that is the case with the strong worded statement Micky Arthur put out. Let’s dissect his statement’s key parts.

“We have chosen a squad according to the time of the year, country and conditions.”

There is no doubt that Pakistan have better bowlers for the expected conditions. It’s been a super cold spring, with the so called ‘Beast from the East’ in England. If it stays similar, it is expected to be a cold early summer (Oxymoron but that’s English weather). Which means, it will seam and swing. Wahab Riaz, isn’t a seam & swing bowler by any means. With rain also around, with wet ground reverse swing (which was important in Pakistan’s wins in Lords and Oval), is out of question. Hence, it is understandable why Wahab doesn’t make the cut.

“I cannot fault Wahab when he has the ball in his hand but his work ethic around training is something that needs to be looked at”

I have no concerns about this part either. Wahab’s Yoyo test results speak for themselves, where he scored just at par 17.4. The coach has the opportunity to see the hurler day in day out, so his is an informed decision. No problems there.

“He has not won us a game in two years. I expect players that have been around a long time to be winning us games and setting standards”

This is where I have some concerns. While, Wahab has not set the world alight with his performances, he has been as good or as bad as any other bowler in the squad currently. He is the 2nd highest wicket taker in 11 test since 2016, has occasionally picked up crucial wickets and bowled splendid spells. This is how Wahab’s career has been. And still Pakistan doesn’t have a bowler who can reverse swing it as his pace. Mohammad Amir (Pakistan’s Salman Khan) also indicating that he plans to ‘manage test cricket’, this team will have a hole. T20 cricket is slowly coming back to Pakistan, but test cricket will remain in UAE for considerable future. This is where Micky Arthur will need a firing Wahab, who can be the enforcer? And make life difficult on dead wickets. Perhaps this public rant, will not help.

Again, it remains to be seen how Wahab Riaz reacts. Fans of fast bowling will hope he reacts the same way as he reacted to Shane Watson or how Sarfaraz Ahmed reacted to Waqar Younus’ ridiculous statements. For now, we can focus on the Ireland and England tour.

the authorAsjad Khan