Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi feels that representing the national team has become way "too easy" lately.
The popular all-rounder hit out at the selection criteria, arguing that players should not be picked based on a few good performances on the domestic circuit or in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). He added that the lack of domestic exposure is ultimately impacting Pakistan's international performance. Afridi was quoted as saying by PTI:
"It has become so easy to play for the national team whereas in the past playing for the Pakistan team was the ultimate for any professional cricketer. That is why our performances are not consistent with the amount of cricket we play in Pakistan."
"Why have we made it so really easy for players to represent their country? I am sad to see that a player gives one or two good performances in domestic cricket or the PSL and he is in the national team. What is this? You should make your cricketers play domestic cricket.”
Shahid Afridi's observations come in light of the controversy surrounding batsman Azam Khan, son of former captain Moin Khan. He was picked in Pakistan's T20I squad for the tours of England and the West Indies. At the time of his selection, Azam had played only one first-class match, 15 List A games (average of 29.89) and 36 T20s (average of 23.96).
Other former cricketers, including Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Asif and Kamran Akmal, have also accused the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of nepotism in the past year.
"Pakistan players must know the value of international cricket" - Shahid Afridi
Shahid Afridi further said that an international cricketer needs to be prepared for all kinds of challenges including the ones put up by the media and fans. He called upon the PCB to send back under-performing players to grind on the domestic circuit in order to make them realize the "value of international cricket". Afridi explained:
"The real difference playing international cricket is how strong a player is mentally to handle all the pressures that come in international matches and that includes the criticism and glare of the media and fans. We must now judge the difference between just talent and mental strength of a player."
He further elaborated:
"If you give a chance to a player and he doesn’t perform, he should be sent back into domestic cricket. Don’t make playing for Pakistan so easy. Players must know the value of international cricket. I am totally against players coming into the side on just one or two performances.”
Pakistan will play three ODIs and as many T20Is against England, starting on July 8 in Cardiff. They will then fly off to the Caribbean for five T20Is and two Tests between July 27 and August 20.
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