Colombo: Former Pakistan allrounder Azhar Mahmood, who is now a British citizen, believes Pakistan cricket is all about politics.
"It's more about politics rather than administrators thinking about the game's benefit. There is no consistent selection policy and there will be chopping and changing of players now and then. Obviously, this has been the reason for the inconsistent performance of Pakistan in international cricket," a candid Mahmood said during a media interaction.
"I have played in different leagues in different countries. I have seen the relationships among players, coaches and management in different countries. The mindset among the cricket authorities in Pakistan is completely different. They don't want to change," said Mahmmod, who has played T20 cricket all over the world.
The former allrounder said he couldn't get going as an international cricketer due to lack of support from selectors.
Mahmood, who last played for Pakistan in 2007, feels that he has been an under-achiever for his country due to impatient selectors.
"I feel I underachieved for Pakistan and I have been not treated well by the authorities. I was primarily dropped from 2007 World Cup for no reason (he did come in as a replacement but didn't get a game). I started off well in Test cricket but suddenly I was branded as an ODI cricketer and subsequently was dropped from longer version. I played my last Test in 2001."
"The same happened with Saqlain Mushtaq and Shoaib Akhthar. The administrators ill-treated them. Then they don't want Abdul Razzaq and he was sidelined for long though he has now come back.
"There is no clear selection policy. In the World T20, there is only one genuine allrounder which is inexplicable.
"There is no Umar Gul in the ODI series against Australia and there is no Aizaz Cheema or Wahab Riaz in the World T20 squad.
"You cannot explain all these."
The 37-year-old also slammed the PCB for frequently changing captains just after one bad series. "They will change captain after just one bad series. Like they change players. They will chop and change after one or two bad games. You need to give time to captains and the players to settle down. The world over captains are given some time to settle down but not in Pakistan. I played under nine captains," said Mahmood, who has played 21 Tests and 143 ODIs for Pakistan.
Mahmood claimed that although his name was doing the rounds for a place in the T20 quad but selectors apparently didn't choose him as he hasn't played any domestic cricket. "I can still play for Pakistan and I am available though I had taken British citizenship. I played Pakistan domestic cricket till last year and they didn't want me. Then why should I continue to play in Pakistan? I need money to feed my family and so I am now playing in England."
"If I can't play for Pakistan, it's their loss. That's not my loss," he said.
Talking about Indian players, he said that the youngsters like Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Cheteshwar Pujara will form the backbone of the national team in future. "India've got the talent and players like Kohli, Raina and Pujara were not getting their chance in Tests due to presence of great players like VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. Now these youngsters will carry Indian cricket forward."
Mahmood said that he is planning to set up a cricket academy in England in association with current Pakistan bowling coach Mohammad Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq. "This game has given me a lot and I want to give back to the game. I am going to open an academy in England to spot and groom young talent. It will be done along with Mohammad Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq. If things go well we will take it to Pakistan also," he said.
Asked if he wants to take up any administrative or coaching job in Pakistan, he said,"If I have to take up an assignment in Pakistan, I don't want to do a dummy job as I want to change the system there."
Mahmood is of the opinion that the SLPL is going in the right direction. "It's just the start but it's doing well. It is very similar to IPL and Bangladesh Premier League. There has been some good cricket contest and the youngsters in every team have been doing well. The downside has been the weather due to which the response from the crowd has been lukwarm. Hopefully, from next year more crowd will come to watch the league.
"Just like IPL or any other T20 leagues in other countries, the local youngsters are getting to play with and against international players. That is good for Sri Lankan cricket.
"Our team is doing really well and youngsters are performing under the able leadership of Mahela Jayawardene," the Wayamba allrounder concluded.