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October 27, 2006

Champions Trophy

A dismal end to a dismal time

Kamran Abbasi

Pakistan left the Champions Trophy with dishonour today. While nobody expects Pakistan to win every game or every tournament, what is expected is that professional cricketers representing their country will show some spine. The Mohali pitch was an unfriendly Eid present from the local groundsman but it cannot entirely excuse the pitiful showing from Pakistan's batsmen. What is supposed to distinguish international cricketers from the rest of us is that they have the eye and the technique to handle even the most trying conditions. Pakistan's batsmen have shown again that unless they are playing on a straight up and down track they are the world's biggest bunnies.

This ineptitude has to end. On difficult, and particularly bouncy, pitches like Perth and this year's Old Trafford track Pakistan do not have the technique to hold out. Pakistan will inevitably blame the pitch, and they will have a case, but that does not escape the fact that because Pakistani batsmen crumble when the ball rumbles they remain some distance from conquering Australia and South Africa, destinations that are must wins on the road to world domination.

A miserable first tournament in charge was made worse by personal failure for Younis Khan. There were also some holes in his captaincy. It was mind boggling that on a pitch made for seam and South Africa reeling, Pakistan bowled so many overs of spin and Umar Gul and Yasir Arafat failed to bowl out. Admittedly, Yasir's first spell was too short but a wise and persuasive captain would have coaxed a second, fuller spell out of him. Gul, on the other hand, bowled only one bad ball--a ludicrously bad one--and there was no excuse for him not to complete his spell.

This Champions Trophy has confirmed two suspicions. First, Inzamam is as essential as ever to this Pakistani middle order, especially when the going gets tough. It will be a relief to see him back against West Indies. Second, if Pakistan are to have any chance of winning the World Cup they will require Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif--or at least one of them--to lead the bowling attack. Ethically you might imagine that there is no chance of that happening but the Pakistan Cricket Board isn't known for its ethical purity.

Ultimately, as mercurial as Pakistan are, the mayhem of the last few weeks was simply too much to overcome. Nobody wants Pakistan cricket to become sterile, the South Africa of South Asia. We still want the flair, the threat of something brilliant. But my conclusion, and the lesson of the last 14 years, is that for that flair and that brilliance to thrill us and produce results Pakistan's cricketers require stable and sensible administration, management, and leadership. Above all, they need to learn how to fight like their lives depend on it.

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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by AbdulMajid Siddiqui on (October 28, 2006, 13:31 GMT)

Dear Abbasi, I am totally agree with your views about Pakistan Cricket’s state of affairs, just I would like to give more credit to South Africa for the way they played their cricket, its just fantastic.

Whatever way we want to see Pakistan cricket it has shown us a demoralising picture:

 1. The appointment of Naseem Ashraf as Chief Executive of PCB, his senseless comments, and making issues out of no issues

2. Can somebody define the roles and responsibilities of a “COACH”? Except playing with a laptop,making press conferences to disgrace his own team and not taking any responsibility of teams poor show

3. Reappointment of Younus Khan after his pathetic attitude in front of press (he has proved unsuccessful in controlling his own emotions, how could he be successful in controlling the whole team)

4. Keeping Afridi in the team even after a series of most pathetic displays of batting one could ever seen

5. What our so called Cricket Academies have been doing since last three years in developing the batting and bowling techniques of our players?

And the list will continue for ten more pages, but I want to stop here and pray to Allah to give sense and guts to our cricket management for running the cricket affairs of our country with some professionalism and loyalty.

Posted by danish ali on (October 28, 2006, 10:49 GMT)

What a disaster for the whole nation! It was the saddest night along with that of 1st March 2003 and 9th March 1996 , when Pakistan team failed miserably and betrayed the whole nation's confidence.We are an unsecure nation and when we have such disasters, we lose more hope in our respective walks of life.This failure has not only dampened our confidence in our cricketing skills but has also seriously affected our personal lives directly or indirectly.

Posted by Salman Shakir on (October 28, 2006, 10:32 GMT)

Pakistan team's biggest problem is that the players are inept and the wardrobe is empty. There is no player out there who can be regarded as a worthwhile replacement for Inzimam or Yousuf, or even be considered as a technically correct player who can provide the soilidity required in the batting order.

All those current players like Imran Farhat and Shahid Afridi who have repeatedly shown lack of commitment and responsibility should be removed and replaced by yougsters like Asim Kamal, Faisal Iqbal, Bazid Khan, etc. With so much interest in this game in our country and with the amount of money involved, we should be hard nosed and choosey about who plays and who does not. Nobody has a right to be in the team, positions must be earned and held by those who show commitment and improvement.

Posted by Shahbaz Faheem on (October 28, 2006, 10:24 GMT)

This match is lost because of the Younis Khan. It can happen only in Pakistan that Younis Khan is made captain of the team, otherwise he will not even qualify as a one day player in any other team let alone become the captain.

I believe there are 3 players who dont deserve to be in the team: Imran Farhat, Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan.

Younis Khan captaincy was mind blowing. He looked utter stupid when batting, while captaining on the field or at the post match comments.

I feel young talent like Shahid Yusuf and Samiullah Niazi, Anwer Ali and Yassir Hamid should be groom instead of repeating mediocre players with flaw techniques.

Posted by Jonathan on (October 28, 2006, 10:04 GMT)

Excuse me Mr. Abbasi, but your comment, "Nobody wants Pakistan cricket to become sterile, the South Africa of South Asia." is quite astounding. How can 5 wickets in 5 overs for 8 runs be sterile. Clinical, but not sterile.

Posted by Rafiq-ul-Islam on (October 28, 2006, 9:52 GMT)

The way we lost the match, i must confess that i have to hang my head in shame. No i am not being emotional but this is exactly the way i think most of us are feeling at this point in time. In both our matches against NZ and South Africa we lost the grip when we were actually smelling blood. Pakistan cricket team is actually not a team but collection of individuals who on a given day can be brilliant and produce magic "if they are in the mood" otherwise they are simply individuals not not team players. so what is the difference between Pakistan and other teams like Australia and South Africa? People say it is the cricket infrastructure. I totally disagree with that. It comes to one fundamental thing i.e. ELEMENTARY DISCIPLINE. Take the case of a player like shaun Pollock. He is not at all talented and gifted. when he bowls, he has no pace BUT it is the consistency of bowling every delivery at the same spot- again and again- that delivers the output. Lastly, we are also responsible of putting our team at a high pedestal. When they beat India in India we make them demi-gods. I think this too triggers complacency. We also need to strike balance in our praise.

having said that all what i had to I feel sorry and dejected. I will now start following Gulli danda or hide and seek instead

Posted by gabru on (October 28, 2006, 9:52 GMT)

discipline is the problem or lack of it. Afridi has none, razzaq has none and the openers don't either. Razzaq had a good slog against sri-lanka and that was the type of innings needed at the time but that is the only type of innings razzaq and afridi know, they can't adapt. As for the openers pakistan should stick with 1 pair and not change them every match.

Posted by Arjun on (October 28, 2006, 9:47 GMT)

Afridi/Farhat/Rana must be dropped. Afridi still thinks that he's playing gully cricket. I'm very upset to see their performance against SF. It's good that they lost this battle so they can learn something out of this pitch. Lets hope for better future of pakistan.

Posted by Immy786 on (October 28, 2006, 9:40 GMT)

Well its confirms everything that we knew - there is no one to replace Inzy. Until few weeks ago, I was one of those wanting Inzy to retire honourably from 1-days and focus on tests but the events of recent weeks show that a) Younis is unfit to be pak captain because of his prima-donna attitude recently - he just too selfish b) the way he got out (he should have knuckled down and lead from front not play big shots and get out the way he did - this was not a way to lead from the front. No wonder Afridi perished the same way - he followed his captain's example) c) whats all the hype about Younis being a tactical genius etc etc - why wasnt Gul brought back to break the Boucher-Kemp partnership. Yes Hafeez bowled well to contain them but did he ever look like taking wickets. d) My suspcision is Younis doesnt have the respect of the team like Inzy has and the team is not playing for him. I have chnaged my mind about about Younis - he is cause of disharmony and now it just makes you appreciate Inzy even more. I already dread to think what will happen when Inzy goes. At least when Imran retired we had wasim, waqar, saeed etc but imagine where we will be without the gentle giant. Maybe Younis need to get some tips from Inzy on man management and leadership.

Posted by M. Ali Imran on (October 28, 2006, 9:39 GMT)

Dear Mr.Kamran I'hv got a better idea for our so-called heroes that instead of sending the team for the tour of WI & SA,just simply send them to waziristan for atleast three months in the frontline so they will learn thr art of serviving/fighting for life situation. If they really want to comeup in the hunt of WC next year.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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