ISLAMABAD - A number of talented cricketers were destroyed by the biased and unjustified attitude of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in the past and same policy continued unabated.

Najaf Shah, 31, is one such player, who could have easily filled the void left by great Wasim Akram, had even handful opportunities were provided to this tall and lanky left hander, who could swing the ball both ways. Najaf had played in county cricket for several years and was a huge success and still could play pivotal role in helping Pakistan cricket back to its feat, if provided with second chance.

Najaf had played just one ODI against Sri Lanka way back in 2007 at the neutral venue of UAE. In fact at Abu Dhabi Stadium, although he failed to pick a single wicket and conceded 59 runs in his quota of overs, yet he really impressed the spectators with his venomous deliveries. Present head coach Waqar Younis was full of praise for Najaf, as he was a commentator at that time, but reasons best known to the PCB and its panel of selectors, Najaf was never given second chance despite being top wicket-taker in domestic cricket very next year in 2008 where he had taken 62 wickets. He was never considered for the national team again. Najaf had also played in English county for two clubs (Sussex and Derby) for eight years where he was a super hit and helped his team become champions twice.

Najaf made his debut in 2001 for Rawalpindi Region and had played 128 matches and taken whopping 463 wickets with 7-57 as his best and average was 24.08. He had taken five wickets in an innings 24 times and 10 wickets in a match thrice. Najaf had also played 79 list A matches and taken 96 wickets with 5-33 as his best.

Najaf was very fortunate as he had represented the country in U-17, U-19 and also toured 7 or 8 times with Pakistan A team. Due to changes in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy format this year, Najaf’s department PIA failed to qualify for the Quaid Trophy. He was the best bowler in Quaid Trophy silver league last year as he had played 8 matches and took 42 wickets. He had also represented PIA, Dera Murad Jamali and Sialkot Regions besides playing for his home town Rawalpindi, but for the last few years, reasons best known to Najaf and Rawalpindi Region bosses, he had opted not to represent Rawalpindi.

Najaf is still 31 and majority of players in other top cricket-playing nations either made their debuts at this age, or look in prime form when they reach 30s. It is right to get benefit from his vast experience instead of relying on same old used bullets and blaming lack of talent. The PCB should look for best alternative in form of Najaf, who could easily resolve Pakistan bowling woes with his match-winning performances. PCB must explore Najaf’s option, who could form lethal combination with M Aamir, who is staging comeback in the national team after more than five-year gap.