Unpredictability is the word that drives daily operations in Pakistan cricket, maintaining an above satisfactory level of drama and tension. Players touted to be “the next big thing” get sucked into doldrums of financial constraints and fitness issues that lead to them eventually giving up on cricket. Three players with similar names and similar twists of fate came onto the scene with great intent and promise, but eventually went missing without any logical reasoning.

1. Usman Khan Shinwari

When the selection committee announced his name in the T20I squad for the series against Sri Lanka scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates, Usman Shinwari was a name unknown to many. On 3rd December 2013, Shinwari took 5 wickets after giving away 9 runs to propel Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited to a huge victory against Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited in the final of the Faysal Bank T20 Cup held between departments. His staggering performance in the final, combined with his overall tournament statistics of 11 wickets in 6 games, catapulted him straight into the national side.

Hailing from Khyber Agency, FATA, an untapped goldmine of talented cricketers, Shinwari was seen as a remarkable option by many due to his ability to swing the ball at pace. If only he could have continued from where he had left in the final, his stay in international cricket could well have been prolonged. On his debut, Usman was only trusted with one over by the captain after he leaked 9 runs. His next over came in his second, and unfortunately last, game against Sri Lanka. This time, on the contrary, Shinwari was allowed to complete his full quota of four overs which led to disastrous figures of 52-0, marking the end of his brief stay with the national side.

Following the series, the decision to include Usman was highly criticised by the general public, along with harsh criticisms hurled towards the reliability of domestic performances, quality of cricket balls used in domestic cricket and the lack of planning in selection matters. Upon his return, Shinwari admitted that he had indeed failed to read the change in conditions effectively, but also that the international flavor had given him more confidence to perform better in the future.

Then-selector Salim Jaffar persisted with the decision to induct Shinwari into the national team and stated that he would not be dumped after his failure in the brief stint and the board would continue to monitor his progress in the domestic circuit. His horror show was forever etched in history, but he himself faded away in a familiar pool of irrelevance.

Whether it was due to prolonged injuries or any other reasons, Shinwari did not feature in a single domestic game last year, having played his last domestic game on 6th November 2014 against Peshawar Panthers. Shinwari re-emerged during the National One Day Cup 2015-16, representing Hyderabad region. Shinwari ended the tournament with 9 wickets in 5 matches with a glimpse of obvious rustiness due to lack of match practice.

At 21 years of age, Shinwari's re-birth has gone unnoticed among fans and is set to be highly competitive and, hopefully, free of any unpleasant throwbacks.

2. Usman Qadir

The only thing more mysterious than Usman Qadir's spin bowling is his abrupt disappearance from the national scene. Usman received the talent of leg-spin bowling in his genes from his father, Abdul Qadir, who took 236 wickets in 67 Tests for Pakistan and is praised as one of the game’s finest ever leg-spinners. Usman picked his father's brain, copied his extravagant action and emerged with a bag of tricks - googlies, flippers and the traditional leg-break.

Qadir first came onto the scene during the 2009-10 U19 World Cup that was held in Australia and New Zealand. Belonging to the same lot as Ahmed Shehzad and Babar Azam, Usman was considered as one of the finds of the tournament after he bagged 9 wickets in 6 matches for the junior team, ending up as the joint-highest wicket-taker for Pakistan.

With plenty of promise, Usman initially played departmental cricket for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited before moving onto National Bank of Pakistan. In the shorter formats, he regularly featured for Lahore Eagles and Lahore Lions. Usman was also part of the Pakistan team at the Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China that won a bronze medal by beating Sri Lanka in the 3rd place play-offs.

Despite the dream start that he has had to his career, Qadir played his last First-Class game on 13th December 2014 against Port Qasim and he is yet to feature again in domestic cricket. Speculation arose early in his career that Usman could consider switching allegiance to Australia after he was offered to play international cricket for the Kangaroos.

Coaxed to come to Australia by Darren Berry, Usman played for the Adelaide Cricket Club during the 2012–13 season, eliciting genuine praise from local coaches. Usman himself, at that time, admitted that he was captivated by the prospects of representing Australia, but would allow his father to make the decision for him.

Times have indeed changed since the speculations first emerged. Australia has leg-spinning talent in abundance with Adam Zampa, James Muirhead and another Pakistani-born talent Fawad Ahmed all climbing up the ranks at a fast rate.

Usman's involvement in Pakistan's domestic circuit has been negligible and it is disappointing to say the least. Curious minds, like myself, who have seen him bowl want to see him play a bigger and better role in shaping Pakistan's future in the spin department. At 22 years of age, Usman still has plenty to offer.

3. Usman Salahuddin

Few people are aware of the talent possessed by Usman Salahuddin. Even fewer people are aware of the fact that Usman has two international caps to his name. His introduction to international cricket in 2011 was harsh to say the least and a flawed reflection of what he is truly capable of. The right-handed middle-order batsman only managed to score 13 runs in two outings before getting discarded by the selection committee.

Not trusted with any international assignments again, Usman busied himself on the domestic scene where in First-Class cricket he has amassed 5069 runs in 82 matches with an impressive tally of sixteen centuries and twenty-seven half centuries, whilst in List A games he has 1621 runs in 56 matches, scoring at a healthy average of 42.65.

Usman should not be expected to fill in the void left by the retirement of Shahid Afridi because he most certainly won't. Usman is tailor-made for the anchor role and prefers batting for longer time periods, much like his domestic counterpart Asad Shafiq. Primary reasons behind the infrequent praise that he has received is due to his technical correctness. Among criticisms that he has received is the amount of balls that he consumes before fully getting into the game, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that he would be a bad fit for our Test team that will be put to test after the partly overdue retirement of Younis Khan and Misbah Ul Haq.

Usman himself, while recalling his tough debut, said that he is not sure if he was completely ready for international cricket or mature enough to handle the pressures that came with it. However, now he feel that with five additional years of domestic experience under his belt, he is much more complete batsman, mature and ready for the obstacles that he had initially failed to overcome.

With the spotlight snatched by a returning Salman Butt during the National One-Day Cup a few months ago, Usman's valiant batting efforts went unnoticed once again. He ended the tournament as the fourth-highest run-getter, scoring 469 runs in 7 matches at a highly impressive average of 93.80 against some of the top bowlers of Pakistan domestic's pool.

Despite his remarkable achievements with the bat, Usman was given a cold shoulder by all five team captains during the draft for Pakistan Cup, leaving him with no choice but to wait for his chance.

In order to further expand his skills set as a reliable batsman, Usman will be playing club cricket in England after he was signed by Newcastle City Cricket Club for the entire season.

Usman has been heavily judged on what he could not do when he had a chance, or half a chance, and has been constantly ignored despite him racking up the runs in both First-Class and List A matches. He will have to let his bat do the talking for a little longer.

Besides Usman Qadir who is yet to represent Pakistan at the international stage, it can be safely concluded that both Usman Shinwari and Usman Salahuddin were handed out international caps prematurely due to the presence of an unaccountable selection criteria. After half chances both of them were discarded, selectors apologised for their poor judgement and everything returned to normal for everyone except these two.

If talents like Qadir, Salahuddin and Shinwari can be protected and groomed, they can yield remarkably positive results for Pakistan in the future, but if their progress is not monitored or judged based upon their performances in the past, Pakistan cricket will be the eventual loser