Pakistan legend Wasim Akram says it is 'beyond him' why Fawad Alam has been overlooked by national selectors, despite boasting a first-class batting average in excess of 55.
The absence of Alam in favour of uncapped batsmen Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Saad Ali and Usman Salahuddin was a major talking point when selectors announced a 16-player squad on Sunday for their upcoming tour of the British Isles.
Alam scored a hundred on Test debut in 2009 but played the most recent of his three Tests later that year, despite continuing to dominate in domestic cricket.
The 32-year-old has more than 10,000 first-class runs to his name as well as 27 centuries and an average of 55.37.
"Players play domestic circuit in view of getting an opportunity to play international cricket," Wasim was quoted as saying.
"I can't understand why Fawad is not getting an opportunity, he is still out (of) the squad despite scoring runs in domestic on an average of 50 in the last three-four years. It's beyond me."
Alam's absence was also a major talking point on social media, trending nationally in Pakistan, as fans expressed their disbelief over his continued absence.
For his part, Alam tweeted his best wishes to the players picked for their historic Test against Ireland and two-match series against England.
"Being hopeless is a sin," he was quoted as saying. "I'll do what I know best. I'll work hard, try my best, practice more, and play whatever domestic cricket comes my way. My cricket doesn't end here.
"It hurts definitely. But I can't just leave cricket saying there is no use.
"Whatever I have today is because of cricket. I respect the game a lot. Ups and downs are part and parcel of this sport, but one needs to stay positive and wait for better things to happen."
"I don't know the answer to this; this has been happening forever. However, a player's job is to perform, stay fit, and wait to be rewarded
"As far as selection is concerned, the national selection committee can answer why I wasn't picked. As a player I am leaving no stones unturned."
Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq later clarified the reasons for Alam's exclusion, saying he's "seen better players" during his tenure as head selector.
"Fawad Alam is an outstanding player but in the last three years there are others at the top of the list," Inzamam told ESPN.
"We got him here in the nets but we found Saad Ali to be better, and the decision to prefer Saad was unanimous, with input from all the coaching staff and captain.
"I know people are very critical about his non-selection but we need to see things in perspective.
"We must select players on merit. I am lucky that most of my picks so far are paying off well, and we now have a bigger pool of player."
Having averaged 55 or better in the preceding three seasons, Alam's output dropped to 570 runs at 41 in the most recent domestic competition, the sixth-highest scorer in the tournament.
Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said selectors had tried to strengthen Pakistan's batting line-up and also give players a chance to experience English conditions ahead of next year's ODI World Cup.
"It's an ideal opportunity for our batsmen to get used to English conditions because we have to play next year's World Cup in England," he said.
Ireland will be making their Test debut against Pakistan at Dublin on May 11. The two Test matches against England will be played on May 24-28 and June 1-5 at Lord's in London and Headingley in Leeds, respectively.