Crescent Kashmir

Wahab Riaz appointed as Pakistan chief selector

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LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday appointed former fast bowler Wahab Riaz as the national team’s chief selector months after he announced his retirement from international cricket.

The development comes as part of a series of changes across the team’s management structure, which started from Babar Azam’s resignation as captain, Shan Masood taking charge in place of him and the change of the portfolio of the Pakistan coaching staff led by team director Mickey Arthur, who was replaced by ex skipper Mohammad Hafeez.

The rigorous shuffling was triggered by Pakistan’s unsuccessful campaign at the World Cup, which saw the team miss out on the semi-finals, finishing fifth in the tournament’s league round table after losing five of their nine matches.

Interestingly, the 50-over showpiece was the very tournament Wahab had expressed his wish to feature in before hanging his boots in August. The left-armer, however, was never in Pakistan’s plans for the World Cup. Wahab’s first assignment as selector will be Pakistan’s upcoming three-match Test tour of Australia and the following T20 series in New Zealand in December-January.

Whether Wahab and Hafeez will be able to continue in their respective roles before Pakistan’s next international duty, will be subject to the fate of their employers – the Zaka Ashraf-led interim Management Committee of the PCB – of which the tenure is set to end in less than three months.

“Former Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz has been appointed as the chief selector of the national men’s selection committee,” read a PCB press release.

“His first assignment will be the selection of the national men’s squad for the three-match Test series against Australia from 14 December to 7 January in Australia and the five-match T20I series against New Zealand from 12 to 21 January in New Zealand.”

Wahab represented Pakistan in 27 Tests, 91 One-day Internationals and 36 T20s picking up 237 across the three formats. Currently, the 38-year-old is also serving as the advisor to the chief minister of Punjab on sports.

“Heading a selection committee is a challenging task,” Wahab said in a statement. “We have a significant Australia tour coming up that is part of the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle and a T20I series against New Zealand that will allow us to develop a formidable unit leading up to the ICC T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies in June next year.”

Meanwhile, with Pakistan’s new coaching staff yet to be named, Hafeez will take up the head coach role for the team’s Australia and New Zealand tours.

“I have a good rapport with the Pakistan Men’s Team Director Mohammad Hafeez and we will be working closely for the success of Pakistan cricket.”

Wahab replaces former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq in the position after the latter stepped down last month following allegations of a conflict of interests.

Inzamam resigned after Pakistani media reported one of his co-directors in a UK-based company was managing director of an agency representing leading Pakistani cricketers.

He quit during Pakistan’s disappointing World Cup campaign. Pakistan bowling coach Morne Morkel, meanwhile, stepped down on Monday.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2023

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