Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pakistan Cricket: A saga of hope.

Charting Pakistan cricket teams progress in the current 2015 Cricket World Cup with comparisons to 1992, when they won the tournament, is perhaps clinging to the hope that somehow miracles can mysteriously reappear. The possibility to reach the next round largely depends on their performance for the last three matches, but more than that a statistical hope that other teams don't do well. The drama of Pakistan cricket is precisely that, a large dose of hope; hope the pitch conditions suit them, hope the other team does not do well, hope that a catch is taken, hope the batsmen can see the ball....

 Cricket in Pakistan lacks leadership in its administration, leadership on the field and most of all the testosterone of becoming a winning side. Yes we have heard its a side steeped in natural talent and who knows if they make it to the next round suddenly they be a rejuvenated side. Yet that simple statement is also tinged with a large measure of hope than objective planning and the certainty of performance.

The team selections are amazingly bizarre, almost if the opposition was asked to choose who they would like to play against. We cannot bring the players from Pakistan who were dropped for reasons that were explained with cricket logic that in any case is absent from the selection process. What the team lacks is heart and passion, and Fawad Alam certainly could have provided that, and a measure of better success than the team that is down under.

Some comments on the individuals would not be out of place.

 Misbah as a rear guard player has held his own, but at best he is merely been holding the enemy at the gate till the troops who had no heart to fight can retreat into a dismal defeat. What he has lacked is the flair and attacking mindset that captains should bring to the pitch. In fairness to him he would say 'attack with who?'

 Nasir Jamshed: He was picked to replace Mohammed Hafeez who had a leg injury and had to pull out. Frankly a one legged Hafeez would be better than a blind batsman, who cannot catch the simplest of catches his grandmother would easily take. How much longer will we hope he will perform with a 50 or a 100? I just wish when he injured his finger in the last match it would have broken so he can be sent home and someone who plays cricket replace him.

 Shahid Afridi: Pakistan cricket lives on the hope that when he does not perform with the bat, which has been more often than not, he will perform with the ball. Of late it seems he has done neither. The fans and pundits agree that he can change a game, but does Afridi know he needs to change his mindset first? He is so taken up with the 'Boom Boom' label he has that he plays to the crowd by trying to slog every bowler out of the park. Most days that just cannot happen.

 Umar Akmal: Every time he comes out to bat the commentators always say he has tons of talent. Somehow he has to find a way to carry that talent into the batting crease with him. Talent in his kitbag does no good to the cause and is akin to sending a soldier to war without a weapon. Why should he even be considered a keeper at this level is beyond comprehension.

 Younis Khan: The former stalwart of test cricket, is nothing more than an ageing aspirant of one day cricket, and somehow feels he is sent in to give the other side catching practice. Yes he can bring stability to a side but more often then not when the side crumbles he joins in the rout.

 What ever happened to the idea of playing Sarfaraz Ahmed as a specialist keeper and even opener. He certainly would take the catches that Umar Akmal felt were not necessary to grab and the results may have been different. Why isn't a specialist spinner like Yasir Shah being played? Are we so plagued by batting failures that adding a batsman, especially the likes of Nasir and Younis are the only solution.

 Pakistan side's fielding is simply a joke. Perhaps after their batting has given the other side catching practice they feel its not necessary to take any more catches for the day. The spirit to fight back is just absent. As someone said that now the team has to fight like cornered tigers; well the team is cornered now we need to find some tigers.

 What makes this whole saga so hard to watch is the fact that teams like Ireland and other minnows have shown more heart than the professionals of the Pakistan side. Yes there are many recipes to try and get this Biryani of failures right but getting the mindset right and making the proper selection choices is a basic requisite before cooking up success is even possible. The alternative is that we continue to rely on hope and somehow through some customary magic wand the one or two players who can carve out wins turn up on the pitch.