Albert Einstein famously described insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. However, as the fourth most intelligent nation, we feel almost obligated to challenge said notion. No individual or institution exemplifies this attitude better than the Pakistan Cricket Board in general and the selection committee in particular.

The ongoing Zimbabwe series at home-a first in six years-is no doubt a landmark achievement for both the cricket board and the country. The sense of occasion though and to some extent the level of opposition has somewhat overshadowed much of the on-field matters; the people are so happy there is cricket in the country that the result or how we get there has taken a backseat. This has conveniently allowed the selection panel to get away with some bewildering decisions.

As ardent followers of the game will tell you, the selection committee has an uncanny knack of selecting promising youngsters for difficult away tours while making sure that mediocre players get innumerable opportunities against relatively easier opposition in conducive conditions. In keeping with this fine tradition, the PCB made sure that not only did they bring cricket back home, they brought Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Sami with it.

Malik failed in both T20s with the bat yet retained his place in the ODI squad which goes to show how much can be achieved with a successful twitter campaign. Malik eventually did come to the party at the third time of asking, smashing 112 in 76 balls. The innings however told us nothing we did not know already; that Malik can be a handful against mediocre opposition in helpful batting conditions but when pitted against better opposition and/or in difficult conditions, he will invariably struggle.

Before his century in the first ODI and since 2008 – his most productive season in terms of average – Malik played 43 ODIs averaging a meager 21.17 at a striking at a rate of below 70. There was a time when Malik could be treated as potential but that time is long gone and it would not be wrong to class him as a tried and tested failure.

Any mention of failure should in fairness be followed with a word about Sami. Has there ever been a Pakistani bowler this bad who has been given the number of chances he has received? The obsession with Sami is in large parts down to a nation’s obsession with how a fast bowler should be. Sami, to his credit, fulfills most of the criteria; pace to burn even at this age; ability to swing the ball albeit with little control and great hair. Instead, he operates surrounded by an overbearing force field of divine curse which neutralizes all that is good about him.

Akram, it is said could bowl six different deliveries in an over. Sami over the years has mastered the art of bowling six different varieties of the same delivery. For what it is worth, Malik can at least call himself a flat track bully. Sami cannot even boast that.

Malik and Sami are not the only ones to benefit from such a flawed selection policy. Every effort humanly possible has been made to somehow accommodate Asad Shafiq into the limited over format despite repeated failures. From a possible 54 matches, Shafiq has batted at numbers 3 and 4 a combined total of 42 times, averaging a shade over 28 at a strike rate of 69. In contrast, Fawad Alam who in theory is in the same mould as Shafiq, has only batted their twice. Alam finds himself out of the team again after failing to find a solution to world poverty on the team’s tour of Bangladesh.

Sami Aslam had his first taste of this bitter medicine. After scoring 45 from 50 balls on his debut, the left hander who has scored heavily at all junior levels found himself dropped for the home series against Zimbabwe. Considering Ahmed Shahzad has reclaimed his place in the squad, the logical conclusion for the former’s omission can only be down to the fact that he scored his runs too quickly and did not play enough dot balls.

Or maybe he was dropped due to his poor showing in the Tests. Because you know that is a thing: dropping or selecting a player based on performance in a different format. How else do you explain the continued selection of Younis Khan?

The list just keeps on going with no improvement in sight. Anyone who thinks the prospect of not making the cut for the Champions Trophy or having to qualify for the World Cup – a serious possibility – will spur the board into mending their ways need only look towards the state of the country’s national game.