Pakistan opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq has become the second fastest player to accumulate 1000 ODI runs and he’s done so at an average above 60!
Imam is the nephew of Pakistan Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, so unoriginal and cynical sceptics had a field day when he was first called up for national duty! Of course Imam shouldn’t be selected because he’s Inzamam’s nephew but nor should he not be selected because so. I remember Darren Lehman talking nonsense about stepping out of the room if his son came up in conversation during Australian selection meetings. There’s just no logic to such a notion. You don’t make any selection without applying it to the whole of the team.
It’s a big ask for Imam to maintain such a great start but hopefully we’ll see more batsman re-writing the record books and averaging sixty plus, even if it’ll lead to groans about modern surfaces!
Imam will look to transfer his encouraging ODI performances to the Test arena, where’s he’s done okay but not yet set the world alight.
Dawid Malan. It’s now or never, boom or bust!
England captain Eoin Morgan said that all squad players would get a game during the three-match T20I series against South Africa. Following the second match and with just one encounter remaining, Morgan said that there’ll definitely be one more debutant in the third match. This may be a bit concerning for Morgan’s Middlesex colleague Dawid Malan, given that another uncapped player, Somerset’s Craig Overton joined up with the party after the first match.
Surely the England management aren’t going to turn around to Malan now and say “Sorry mate but we’ve changed our mind. You’re not playing”. Remember that Malan made the squad for the one-off T20I against Sri Lanka last year only to miss out on the final XI.
Malan has performed admirably well in limited overs cricket for England Lions, appeared in the recent PSL final and most notably pummelled runs in the North v South Series thus demanding selection. Malan’s 196 runs at an average of 98.00 at a strike rate of 104.81 with a top score of 109 not out saw him top the run scoring charts. To have omitted him following those performances would have brought into serious question the whole point of North v South.
Maybe Malan hasn’t had that big domestic season but sometimes those 1000+ runs campaigns that a batsman has can be misleading. I’ll always revert to Ed Smith and that one season he had making hundred after hundred but was he good enough to be a Test cricketer? To be fair his Test career is too small a sample size to judge. For the record, Smith did a great job at short leg against South Africa and I really like his insightful and balanced commentary.
Malan bowls useful leg-spin too but if he does play in the final T20I you can’t help but think he either needs a half-century or if he makes late twenties/early thirties then it needs to be struck at around 200% if he’s to ever wear the jersey a second time. A single figure score may well be the beginning and the end of Malan’s international career all in one. At the age of 29 a considerable international career could lay ahead but it’s easy to sense that England felt slightly forced to select him than actually wanting to. Andy Flower has vehemently campaigned for his call-up. That may be unfair on the England management but such is the competition amongst the batting ranks that as much as England want to mix things up selection could almost become convoluted. It’s arguable whether providing players with odd matches is any use at all as Sam Billings’ fill-in the gaps international career displays.
Growing up in the nineties and early 2000s I saw the likes of Mike Hussey and Darren Lehmann have to wait domestic run-glutinous years for a run in the Australian Test side and for Jamie Cox to not get a chance at all.
There’s nothing worse than seeing a batsman get one chance and fall for nought so fingers crossed that Malan at least gets some runs on the board if selected as promised.