Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pakistan's Cricketing Woes.

Cricket is a passion in Pakistan, a country devoid of much attention, raked with violence and the politics of division, this crazy game brings together people from the street to the mansion, from the mosque to the government office. The performance of the national team at the recent World T20 was perhaps steeped in a self destruct attitude to the extent that even the lack of imaginative captaincy and the failures of supposed talent seemed dwarfed by events. Pakistan did not lose its matches, it surrendered them unashamedly.

When T 20 cricket emerged on the world scene everyone felt the format of the T20 game suited the swashbuckling style of the likes of Shahid Afridi, Aamir Nazir, Umar Akmal et al. For a brief moment in time it seemed to be the case as Pakistan did win the World T 20 cup, (once) and since then seems to have frozen its talent and skill into a state of comatose that escapes reason. The recent showing at the World T20 Cup in India highlighted shortcomings which one would expect from a schoolboys team.

In so far as Shahid Afridi failed in his captaincy with the lack of imagination, inability to read the conditions of play and more importantly to make on field decisions to adjust to the situation, the failures of the team run deeper. There were flashes of brilliance, almost as if these individual performances were out of the script of collective failure. The lack of leadership was compounded by Afridi's own failures which seem to have taken chronic proportions. Ironically we keep hoping this one time hero will somehow perform and then everything will be fine. Yes he somehow manages that one in ten noteworthy performances to keep our fragile hopes alive.

The presence of players like Khalid Latif in the team begs the question "What were the selectors thinking? What did he ever achieve in this format?" More interestingly as shown by teams like Bangladesh and Afghanistan that the difference was in how well the team fought. Indeed their results may not have been better than Pakistan's but there was not doubt that as a team the collective effort was always present. Why was not Fahad Alam in the team, known for his fighting spirit and certainly a better record that Khalid Latif. Changes to the batting order were without a plan and at most times the change was really a gamble that failed.

On the bowling side only Mohammed Amir showed not only his will to fight but his ability to bowl to a plan and always seek to achieve a result. When other bowlers were lost in the woods and getting smashed around the captain was noticeably absent in giving them advice and calming their nerves.
The cocktail of failure was there for the making with the coach, Waqar Yunus absent in guiding the players to perform with effort, a captain who would not have listened to anyone and a bunch of players who are supposedly talented but on the day left the talent in their kit bags.

Some would argue that the whole cricket set up in Pakistan needs an overhaul. As Waqar Yunus himself pointed out that cosmetic changes will not help, yes indeed the problems run deep. They involve selection, captaincy and the nurturing of talent and providing an spirit of success that just simply is not there. The summer tour to England is the right platform to bring the changes for the future even it may mean the selected teams will be lacking the old look and the old faces, this is a rebuilding phase and it should be based on merit and not politics of board rooms and an organisation run by many who never held a cricket bat.

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