The new chief selector of the Pakistan cricket team Mohammad Wasim announced a 20-man Test squad for the side's upcoming home series against South Africa. The is Wasim's first assignment since taking over the gig from former head coach Misbah ul-Haq.
In one line, the selection was exceptional.
It was a welcome break from the dull days under Misbah ul-Haq. Eight players from the previous squad for the New Zealand tour were dropped, and players with proven first-class cricket nous finally got the nod.
Misbah ul-Haq's decision to back the same players from Inzamam-ul-Haq's time as a selector despite lackluster performances, the cost Pakistan cricket team during overseas tours. Even his decision to field a teenage pace attack, except for Mohammad Abbas, failed to yield any significant results.
Inspired changes to Pakistan's Test squad
This new squad, nonetheless, is one of veteran performers, who have toiled hard in the domestic circuit for years without any significant rewards.
The inclusion of the veteran Tabish Khan was a great talking point in Pakistan. The man with over 550 wickets in the first-class year and 19 years of service was finally selected for the national squad. What is more strange is that this was the first time Khan got a callup to the Pakistan cricket team.
Suad Sakeel and Kamran Ghulam are two other candidates who have brought much optimism to the country's cricketing fraternity with their callups.
Ghulam broke the 37-year old record of top-scoring in the country's premier first-class competition - the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He had been on the scene for the last six years deserved a spot in the squad.
Karachi-based Saud Shakeel has been another top performer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy for the last five years, since his debut against Younis Khan's Power Development Authority in 2015.
Ever since Asad Shafiq exited the team, the Pakistan cricket team's middle-order has looked rather fragile. This is why the inclusion of both Ghulam and Shakeel makes sense.
The inclusion of Nauman Ali and Hassan Ali will also benefit the Test team. Hassan Ali did not play a single game during Misbah ul-Haq's tenure, following a back injury. However, he was the Man of the Tournament in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
Ali played a captain's knock of 106 runs from 65 balls to guide Central Punjab to a respectable draw in the final. The Pakistan cricket team sorely missed a quality all-rounder like Hassan Ali on their tours to Australia and England.
Following the dull performance of left-arm T-20 specialist Zafar Gaur in New Zealand, it is time for the Pakistan cricket team to back proven first-class spinners. like 34-year old Nauman Ali.
The veteran off-spinner has over 150 appearances in domestic red-ball cricket and made his breakthrough into the national team due to another meritorious call from Mohammad Wasim.
This new-look Pakistan cricket team has created a great deal of optimism in fans. Pakistan have struggled in Test matches recently, and no one apart from Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam have displayed consistency.
Backing top first-class performers is a welcome move and a chief selector for the Pakistan cricket team has backed performances over potential after a long time.