Karachi: Mohammad Ilyas has stepped down as Pakistan's interim chief selector, while Iqbal Qasim has been appointed to the post of chief selector.
The decision to appoint Qasim, a former chief selector himself, had been taken after Ilyas put forward his resignation today on the sidelines of the governing board meeting in Islamabad. The board, however, had decided to bring back Qasim and former selector Saleem Jaffar in the five-man committee. Azhar Khan, Asif Baloch and Farukh Zaman were retained in the committee.
"We wanted to make some changes regarding the selection committee and Iqbal Qasim is the new chairman of the selection committee," Ashraf said after the meeting. "Pakistan is going to the Asia Cup (in Bangladesh) and I hope the selectors will continue the merit policy."
Qasim, presently the sports head of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), had resigned from his first stint as chief selector following a poor tour of Australia in 2009-10. The team was whitewashed in both the Test and ODI series and Shahid Afridi was banned for biting the ball. Qasim was a member of the selection committee until the 2007 World Cup and had been appointed in an honorary post, continuing as a senior employee with NBP.
"During the two-and-a-half month tour (in Australia), we lost every single match we played but I pray that such a situation does not arise again," Qasim said. "There's a short time available for the Asia Cup, our team's effort will be to select the best possible team. I can assure you that the team will be balanced."
Jaffar was also a member of the selection committee from 2007 till July 2010, when his contract was not renewed due to a rift in selection. Currently the head coach of Karachi City Cricket Association, he will now work as a full-time selector.
Ilyas' resignation was expected because the PCB had already been making plans to form a new selection committee. Ashraf, when taking over as chairman, refrained from major changes in order to maintain the team's winning momentum. Ilyas was part of the selection committee throughout the Ijaz Butt administration in different positions, and had served as the interim chief selector since Mohsin Khan was appointed as interim head coach.
Ilyas said he gave up his role owing to his personal commitments and the extensive fieldwork required to be a national selector. "I am quite busy at the moment," Ilyas said. "I've been there for three and a half years so it's time for new people to take over. I have enjoyed working with everybody."
Ilyas was criticised for selecting his son-in-law Imran Farhat as an opening batsman in one-day internationals particularly by fans who felt that Farhat wasn't deserving of a spot in the national team. However, Qasim has assured that teams henceforth will be picked on merit.
"Imran Farhat is just like any other player," Qasim said. "Every player will be evaluated and whatever team is picked it will be on merit."
Qasim also acknowledged Ilyas' work: "I give my full support to Ilyas for his wonderful contribution. He did his work with dedication and honesty. The board appreciates his services with compliments and he was with us as an important member of the team."
Interestingly, Mohsin was supposed to return to the selection panel, but his future with the PCB is still uncertain, with the likelihood of him being replaced by another head coach in the near future. However, Ashraf told ESPNcricinfo recently that "Mohsin's future is associated with the PCB".
All major regions in Pakistan have been represented; Zaman looks after the NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) region, Baloch after Balochistan and the rest over Sindh and Punjab.