Pakistan’s young teenage pace sensation Naseem Shah was withdrawn from Pakistan’s Under-19 World Cup squad to be held later this month in South Africa, after being named in the initial squad on December 6 by the Pakistan Cricket Board and the board’s decision came under the scanner.
Reports of Shah’s actual age not being 16 started doing the rounds and PCB’s decision all the more fuelled the rumours. However, on Tuesday, PCB issued a clarification that the youngster was withdrawn from the squad purely for cricketing reason and not due to the concerns over his actual age.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board rejects the impression in a section of the media which suggests that fast-bowler Naseem Shah had been withdrawn from the Pakistan U19 squad for next month’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup due to concerns over his actual age,” read the statement.
Shah became a social media sensation way back in November when a video of him bowling during Australia vs Pakistan warm-up games went viral and later he earned a maiden Test cap at the age of 16 during the Australia Test series.
But, with the adulation also came criticism after a newspaper article published in August 2016 resurfaced in which West Indies legend Andy Roberts was talking about how impressed he was with Shah as a 16-year-old prodigy back then.
But, Shah’s childhood coach came in the young boy’s defence stating that he has undergone bone-marrow test and his real age is 16. PCB also went on to state in their release that due process is followed to verify the age of the under-19 players, all of whom have been named in the World Cup squad.
“The PCB, as part of its standard operating procedures, had rechecked and verified ages of all potential members of the Pakistan U19 side in November before selecting the squad on 6 December 2019 subsequent to which Naseem was named in the side after he met the ICC age eligibility criteria for the tournament, which was set at 1 September 2000,” the released added.
The board also went on to accuse a section of media trying to tarnish PCB’s image.
“The PCB, as stated in its announcement on 31 December, had clarified that Naseem had been withdrawn from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup on the request of the Pakistan men’s senior team management purely on cricketing reasons.
In this background, the PCB is disappointed that an attempt has been made to tarnish the credibility and reputation of an emerging fast-bowler with a bright future ahead.”