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November 8, 2006

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Where are the new hopes of Pakistan cricket, Mr Bari?

Kamran Abbasi

Like water torture he keeps drip dripping away. Wasim Bari--once Pakistan's overrated wicketkeeper and now an even more overrated chairman of selectors--has managed to see off more administrators and cricketers than can be good for Pakistan cricket. Bari, Pakistan's Teflon, once drew his inspiration from his friend and writer Omar Kurieshi. You wonder where he seeks ideas now? You can't imagine that his fellow selectors, including the legendary Ehteshamuddin, the Test cricket misfit who was barely able to stagger off the pitch at Headingley, offer much in the way of piercing insights. If people are paid what they are worth then it's possibly understandable that Pakistan's selectors remain unpaid.

The problem with being in post for too long is that people can predict your patterns of behaviour. Bari, we know pretty well, has a penchant for recalling once-great-hopes and sticking with other once-great-hopes well past their sell-by date. What many have feared in Bari is that he has a natural reluctance to take a risk, an inability to see beyond the obvious selection and pluck a star from relative obscurity.

The educated gambles that have brought Pakistan cricket the riches of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Inzamam-ul Haq have all but disappeared. You might make an argument that these educated gambles should not supersede the aspirants who have emerged successfully through the system. But the Pakistan system of developing international cricketers is so haphazard and unreliable that an educated gamble might well be as good as observing somebody's stunning run in domestic cricket. But to make an educated gamble succeed you require sound judgement.

To begin to gamble you need to begin to take risks, and Bari doesn't strike me as a man who risks much. The most recent influx of new blood into the Pakistan team--Mohammad Asif apart--came during Aamir Sohail's tenure as chairman of selectors. Aamir had his own failings but an aversion to risk taking was not among them.

This West Indies series, for instance, must have been worth an educated gamble? With Pakistan's batting in urgent need of a future star it beggars belief that Shahid Yousuf was not given the opportunity of a home debut. By all accounts, he has the potential to make it in international cricket and, whisper it quietly, he plays straight. This series would seem to be an ideal launch pad.

This is not to dismiss Yasir Hameed's selection, one of the many lost talents of the Bari era. Indeed, Yasir's opportunity offers hope to aspiring cricketers in Pakistan's remote northern villages where there is abundant talent but pitiful opportunity to display it--his village is a few kilometres beyond my family village of Bakote. You might imagine that the selectors could have found room for both Yasir and Shahid?

Add to this the feeble, venom-free, bowling line up that Pakistan have conjured up--the last time I saw Samiullah Niazi in action he was failing to take part in a net session for no good reason--and you can understand why Brian Lara is licking his lips and Pakistan supporters are underwhelmed with anticipation for the forthcoming series.

After a catalogue of disasters and unending misery, Pakistan cricket required some new hopes, instead Bari and co delivered the same old water torture, the same old bankruptcy of ideas.

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

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Posted by Khurram Saeed-AUS on (November 15, 2006, 19:23 GMT)

THIS IS FOR TEST & ODI 1. Fast bowlers do not need to be really fast. Eg. Mcgrath-Consistency is needed. B.Lee- He was really fast, but was going for too many runs/not many wickets, he was eventually dropped, but he came back with less speed more control- result, automatic selection/wickets- Good yorkers to tailenders. Which current Paki bowler does this? No one (maybe Akhtar, but forget him now) 2. Pak needs to look bowlers not batsmen at this moment, Asif/Akhtar are out(BOWLERS) 3.Pak fans do not support their player unless they are legends eg.Imran Khan, Waseem Akram, Inzi. Let them play for 5-6 test matches/ODI's before dropping them. 4. Pak has 2 allrounders that can bowl spin (Malik/Hafeez), Pak can not lose Razzaq from medium pace allround. Pak needs good medium pace allround, like damp Symonds/Clarke for Watson, think for yourself. 5.Give the current test team a chance in South Africa and West Indies before making a change. The replacement players should be selected purely from domestic matches, Asim Kamal did his bit, so did Widjahatullah Wasti, Yasir Hameed, Butt etc. But put some runs in the domestic competitions to be able to be considered for recall. EG Hussey, Clarke, Watson, Lee, Hayden, Martyn, all have been dropped from the national side and they worked hard in domestic competitions. See this for help. I suggest you bookmark it. http://aus.cricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/2006-07/PAK_LOCAL/

Posted by mawali on (November 15, 2006, 1:26 GMT)

Mr. Abbasi, while I agree with almost everythinh you say (no patronizing here) however, I applaud the man for including Shahid Nazir; great move. Now, I will be very impressed the day he drops the bloated, dumb as an ass maulvi Inzy as a capitaan.

Posted by Umair Javed on (November 14, 2006, 18:08 GMT)

I disagree with the bits and pieces to this extent that the 1999 world cup can not be attributed to those so called bits and pieces. The modern one day game calls for bits and pieces and im afraid that is how it is supposed to be played. It is the test arena where pakistan lack the real depth. Apart from a couple of fast bowlers they have nothing to boast but the batting cannot be put to blame since it is on paper one of the better line ups over the last few years. My only concern is with lack of genuinely fast bowlers coming through the system. Where once we could boast three bowlers at least who could bowl above 85 we now only have one i.e. Umar Gul and that too if hes in good rythym.

Posted by Shehryar on (November 14, 2006, 7:32 GMT)

I agree with comments re. Yasir Hameed and Imran Nazir. Yasir was emerging as one of the best talents against pace bowling in years and for some inexplicable reason he was dropped? I saw him play a number of good innings against quality pace bowling (example: on a seaming Pindi track against England in an ODI late last year), while his colleagues failed around him. Imran Nazir has come back into form and deserves another chance in the ODI's version of the game. I also believe with Woolmer and Inzimam our strategy is too negative and defensive. We are not learning from our past mistakes and time and again we are opting for "bits and pieces" players like Razzaq, Afridi, Malik when we really need more specialist batsmen and bowlers in both forms of the game. Two recent examples come to mind when our lack of a solid back up bowler cost us heavily - during the Champions Trophy we allowed South Africa to reach a decent winning total after they were 40 for 6 odd at one stage. Again, in the recent test against the Windies we had them 4 down for 40 odd and again allowed them to recover after our first string bowling attack came off. Both Malik and Razzaq failed to get any wickets. This problem goes back to the 1999 and 2003 world cups when we packed our sides with "bits and pieces" players and lost heavily in two crucial games to Australia. They say that insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. When will this "madness" end? We need to change our strategy before the world cup and start giving solid specialist players a chance rather than persisting with the "tried and tested, Over the hill" "bits and pieces" players like Afridi and Razzaq. I hope Woolmer and Co. are listening?

Posted by ali on (November 13, 2006, 22:52 GMT)

i dont think its abt finding great players or great talents. wasim akram and waqar younis were great bowlers but both struggled against the best australia. we need to make the best team not the most talented team. the characteristics of the player shud be smart, mentally strong, and then talented. ex. imran farhat immense talent, no brains no mental strength hence he struggles. same with afridi. mohd yousuf, immense talent, strength and smartness. same with inzamam. shoaib malik is a an example of a cricketer i wud want on my team. good smart cricketer, mentally strong and talented. i think pakistan shud start exposing some players when the oppurtunity arises. playing abdul rehman in test 2 if we win test 1. stop playing all rounders like razzaq in tests. i know what razzaq will give. some hitting on a dead track and bowling that allows the batsman to get set. id rather see niazi, or faisal iqbal play.

Posted by Imran Ahmed on (November 13, 2006, 14:13 GMT)

Amazing how one of Pakistan's best wicketkeepers and a man who has served Pakistan Cricket for so long is being maligned for the current state of Pakistan cricket. To call him over-rated is an insult.

Mr. Abbasi conveniently forgets that Bari's long tenure as a wicketkeeper was the glue that held the side together as players like Imran Khan matured and made Pakistan on of the best teams in the world. His contemporaries were Marsh, Knott, Engineer, Kirmani, Jarman to name a few and his record stands up to the best of his time. One cannot expect a wicketkeeper to take catches that don't come his way. Marsh stands out but he had Lillee as his partner in crime and it is doubtful if the ct. marsh b. Lillee stat will ever be beaten.

The truth is when idiots like the President of Pakistan start meddling in sports matters you know the nation is doomed!

Posted by juman ali on (November 13, 2006, 12:16 GMT)

kamran abbasi type of whingers are the cancer of our cricket. they shoot their mouth off and sit on their brains! i know bari sahib personally and can confirm that pakistan cricket needs people like him desperately. had it not been for bari sahib, people like kamran abbasi would've destroyed PCB by now! by the way, kamran, a team is one that works together. that's one thing pakistan have never achieved except under the leadership of imran khan. we need a dictator to run the show...but we need bari sahib to be the cohesive bond that holds all together.

Posted by Owais2010 on (November 13, 2006, 6:40 GMT)

It really hurts when people on this thread say that Wasim Bari was at best a mediocre cricketer. To me and to a lot of experts, he was the BEST wicket keeper we have ever had. His only mediocrity was his weak batting, but at that time overall standard of batting amongst wicket keepers was not as high as it is today. I have already mentioned the problems of selectors in my earlier comment. I believe the main culprit is our outrageously ineffective first class setup. Potentially we could have a setup that would result in matches that are able to attract thousands of fans in the statiums. This is not happeneing clearly pointing at the failure of the system. WE should learn from Australian and English first class system.

I do agree with Umair, that we should pay attention to three very good bowlers in our under-19 team that ripped through Indian under-19 batting line up (before the three are victims of our pathetic first class set up).

Posted by Omar Qasim on (November 13, 2006, 2:41 GMT)

Perhaps Mr Abbasi you should apply for the position of Selector yourself. After all it is such intellectually driven and stimulating personalities like yourself that need to be running the affairs of selection in the cricket board. From what i can read about you in your brief introduction given on this website you seem quite content with criticizing the board based on your past exploits. Oh may i quote, 'thrashing Michael Atherton for three successive boundaries, and bowling former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sahrif with an unplayable off-cutter' . Regardless of your opinion which may indeed hold substance, i dont think it deserves much attention or respect based on your regular rumbling articles on cricinfo and dawn. I suggest you should continue to write while you can and considering publishing a novel on your 'armchair' methods of critique. Oh and ofcourse, you do get PAID for it!

Posted by FAISAL RAFIQUE on (November 12, 2006, 22:51 GMT)

Its unbelievable that PCB's chief selector is a full time paid employee of an airline and just performs selection duties for fun. Well he doesn't take any money from PCB but then again didn't we hear the quote "You get what you pay for" and thats what we are getting. Selector is supposed to watch all domestic games and look for young talent all the time... How Mr. Bari defends himself in PCB review meetings... He doesn't have any clone , does he ?

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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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