December 2009
« Nov   Jan »

Sam Collins: Shah attacks England selectors

December 10th, 2009 by Sam Collins in England, One-day cricket


You could accuse Owais Shah of many things, but not recently of being a bland interviewee. The frenetic intensity so evident as he grips his bat-handle like a fireman’s ladder is as prevalent in his wide-eyes and earnest manner in conversation – PG Wodehouse could have had Shah in mind when he wrote of Mr Cootes, “There was an impulsiveness about his character which did not go well with the possession of fire-arms”. As Shah faced the media yesterday, words were his weapon when he took aim at the England selectors.

It has been two months since Shah gave a heartfelt reaction to Sky Sports News on his omission from England’s one-day squad for South Africa, and clearly it still rankles. Consistency is the byword, and his main gripe. “I was extremely surprised and disappointed to be left out,” he says. “I was told that I wasn’t consistent enough and that’s the only reason I’m not playing for England. I was the highest run-scorer for England over the last 12 months. I don’t really know where they’re coming from”.

If consistency is an issue, Shah believes that it is the England selectors who are at fault, given the extent to which they have shunted him around the order, “I find that you have to have a given role, [one that is] not always changing. Every player just wants some consistency. I feel I have proven enough in the last three years since I came back into the side. I started at six, then I performed and got myself up to five, then up to four, and I flirted with three, but it was constantly chopping and changing. Was Pietersen going to bat there, was I going to bat there? Nothing was set in stone and it was like ‘just leave me in one position and let me fulfill a role’.”

Although the statistics back up Shah’s point – since coming back into the team in 2007 he has scored more runs (1,540) than any other England player – it is evident that he has failed to make the most of his talent at international level. As for selectorial inconsistency, between March and September 2009 Shah batted at No.4 in nine out of 10 ODIs, and scored just two half-centuries.

Shah’s timing of these comments isn’t great, following England’s 2-1 series win in South Africa. But he believes the team would be better with him in it: “What I can offer the England team is that I am destructive. I am a six-hitter, as you saw against South Africa when I got 98 in the Champions Trophy. Sure, England have players who can get runs but it’s all about how quickly you get them, and how often you can change the game, and I don’t believe there are enough players in that line-up who can change a game.”

Is that right? Paul Collingwood is revitalised by a more carefree approach, Jonathan Trott’s arrival has provided the solidity that Shah couldn’t, and Shah’s county colleague Eoin Morgan is emerging as a genuine, six-hitting matchwinner. Throw in a recuperating Kevin Pietersen and with Andrew Strauss in imperious form, England look stronger at the top of the order than they have for a long time in both forms of the game.

“If you look at the best teams in the world, they’ve got players who score big, destructive runs and nail the opposition,” Shah went on. “Apart from Kevin Pietersen, we just don’t have that sort of a player. India have Yuvraj Singh at No 6 and [Virender] Sehwag opening. That’s how those guys play their cricket and that’s why they’re ranked No. 1.”

If Shah’s words draw an empty response from selectors and public alike, it is because he has had countless opportunities to prove that he can transfer his undoubted ability to the bigger stage and influence games in the manner of a Sehwag or Yuvraj.

As it is, at 31, Shah averages just 30.56 from 71 ODIs, and 26.90 from his 10 Test innings. These stats hardly justify the inclusion of a man whose fielding is far below the standard of the rest of the England team. “I am no Paul Collingwood but I can hold my own,” he says. “You look at the Indian one-day team, and let me tell you Virender Sehwag is not the best fielder in the world.” It’s an unfortunate comparison: Sehwag has scored 11 ODI hundreds, Shah one.

It was Shah’s fielding that was one of the main reasons for his axing. Another was his running between the wickets. “My running wasn’t discussed with the selectors,” he says. “Andy Flower touched on it after me and Collingwood had a mix-up at The Oval, and the next game I ended up getting run out, and then people just caught on to it. I am happy with my running, but I am human, I will make mistakes and I will get run out.”

His blistering 98 in the Champions Trophy reminded everyone of his talent and Shah believes people will see it again from him. “I still feel I have a lot to offer the one-day team and I have got to get some runs for Middlesex now.”

Shah seems to implicitly believe the rumours that his face doesn’t fit, yet there have been chances missed to force the issue through weight of runs, most notably three Tests on flat wickets in the West Indies earlier this year. Now, as with Steve Harmison, the England selectors appear to have finally made a call on him.

Owais Shah was speaking at an npower Urban Cricket event, a scheme that encourages inner city youngsters to take up the game

Sam Collins is website editor of

Posted in England, One-day cricket | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Sam Collins: Shah attacks England selectors”

  1.   raghu says:

    hmm. There s a bit of truth to what shah says here.

    If there is a situation where a batsmen is required to score big runs to win a game, unfortunately I dont give any of the england batsmen a chance not even kp( he sure has tried in the past but I dont exactly recollect him scoring big and winning it when the runrate was , say like 9 an over or more). the only guys who can perhaps consistently score big in all three forms of the game are the australians, indians and the south africans(yes, even after south africas loss to england). even the hugely under rated graeme smith can be relied upon more than kp.

    Probably tats what matters really in ODIs nowadays.

Leave a Reply

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2010 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved