Openers November 18, 2006

All right now for Pakistan's openers

The opening slot has been Pakistan's most troublesome, and in the recent past has been hogged by a series of left-handers, the legacy of watching Saeed Anwar and Brian Lara

The opening slot has been Pakistan's most troublesome, and in the recent past has been hogged by a series of left-handers, the legacy of watching Saeed Anwar and Brian Lara. Unfortunately for Pakistan, no left-hander has hinted at permanency. Salman Butt has lots of time to play his shots. Taufeeq Umar is sometimes capable of great application. And Imran Farhat looks the most accomplished--but only before he gets anywher near the crease for an international match. The failure of openers has been held as the biggest failure of Bob Woolmer. The reasons are complex. There is plentiful ability but inadequate learning. Cricket, as we all know, is a game of the mind as much as it is a game of hand and eye. It may be time for the rule of the left to give way to the might of the right.

One half of the problem, at least, looks to be solved. Mohammad Hafeez has been impressive and influential since his return to international cricket and has quickly established himself as the more secure of Pakistan's openers. Hafeez has shown the right attitude, a willingness to scrap when he needs to.

This strength of Hafeez has been a failing of Imran. Pakistan's most frequent opener is an impressive and stylish cricketer. He has an astonishing array of attacking strokes with which he can seize the initiative in a trice. But he can lose it just as quickly. Imran is only ever a moment away from madness. He has squandered a glorious start too often with a needless swish or a hopeless swipe.

Perhaps the sad conclusion is that this talented young man does not have the right mindset for international cricket. Whether he plays at Multan or not, Imran must be running out of chances. The return of Yasir Hameed is imminent. A right-handed opening combination of the two Hs, Hafeez and Hameed, is the one Pakistan must try out quickly. It is one that could do the job in both forms of cricket. Yasir's aggression might well compliment Hafeez's application.

The question, of course, is whether or not Yasir Hameed can return as impressively as Mohammad Hafeez? We need to find out sooner rather than later.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on June 9, 2009, 9:30 GMT

    After Pak & Aus series in UAE Pakistan had a very good domestic taurnament but in T20 world cup same team is playing which was in UAE series PCB sellector are useless they are unable to get oppeners from that. In current team also they have good openers but they have good confident on Salman & Ahamd shahazad, which is not happening. why they are not opening with Shahid Afridi & Kamran Akmal.

  • testli5504537 on January 17, 2009, 19:34 GMT

    I think Pakistan has tried too many openers till now.It should stick to Butt and Yasir Hameed and give them a long run.Hameed has shown his class whenever tried.He has the stamina of playing long innings and an array of beautiful strokes.It will also give you an ideal left/right combination.He just needs confidence . An opener should play close to the body like Akmal but is not an option at the expense of his keeping,which is already on the decline.Furthermore Its not a healthy sign to bring middle order up and give you an impression of an upside down batting order,with no middle order and a long tail.We need genuine openers like Saeed/Sohail.Who kept the middle order relaxed .We should go for regular openers and stop further experimentation.

  • testli5504537 on February 16, 2007, 9:39 GMT

    why team management is still thinking on these flop combinations..keeping everything into consideration and looking at carribian wickets i feel razzaq and afridi is best combination for openning. Razzaq can change gears depending on situations. we should permanently drop RANA( he is less than any ordinary bowler).

  • testli5504537 on February 11, 2007, 13:14 GMT

    In my point of view Salman Butt should play again for PAK team again as an opener.He is such a stylish player though he sometimes edges the ball out side the off stump.(that cant be the reason for him to be out of the squad since batsmen like Farhat,Malik do the same.)Salman Butt has scored few 100s and 50.He was not so good in the English tour but he has shown great class.he has done very well in India and Australia in where most Asian batsmen are not very good.At last I should say that he should be given the chance again.And also i feel that boom boom afridi should open the innings.because if he hits 3 or four sixes at the start bowlers get frustrated.But he has to bit responsible as an opener and should not try to hit high bouncers as he rockets them and get caught. If PCB can fix this PAK team has a great chance in the Carribeans.

  • testli5504537 on February 9, 2007, 3:13 GMT

    i think that the best openers in odi are kamran akmal and imran nazir. In test matches it should be shahid afridi and yasir hameed. these pairs would most likely give pakistan the best...

  • testli5504537 on January 6, 2007, 2:55 GMT

    why are we obsessed with same old tried and tested player's i saw rafatullah recently in twenty20 game looks very stylish with good technique, also leading batsman in patron's trophy by the name of Afaq Raheem yorkshire's david byas was interested in him as their second overseas player untill new adminstration took over,he was leading run scorer in patron's trophy why are we lobbying for tried and tested failure's bring in new talent new faces , so that their might be another saeed anwar or inzamam waiting out their to be explored

  • testli5504537 on December 27, 2006, 22:01 GMT

    Its sad that we are doing the same to Salman Butt as the PCB establishment once did to Imran Nazir -ruining a young and exceptional talent by shunning him in and out of the side instead of giving him a sense of permanency in the team and letting him "play" and show what he can do. Salman Butt has scored test and one day hundreds against teams like Australia (in Australia) and against India (always pressure matches) when only 20 and 21 years of age - not to mention a good one day average of 40 (before the india series and 30 post series). This says a lot for his talent. He should have been allowed to play through his bad form or at worst should have been given a rest for a couple of matches and brought back and again left to play through. Whats the worst that could have happened - not being exposed to the "scintilating?" performances of Hafeez and Farhat? Butt is the only potential opener who shows promice of replacing Saeed Anwwar. Hafeez is a grinder at BEST. Farhat has talent but given the choice, i would rather invest in Shoaib Malik or Kamran Akmal as the other opener - given their greater composure and again loads of talent. As a result of PCBs/selectors' fickle nature, we are back to where we were four years ago, 3 months to the first match and no where close to having a permanent opener. Silver lining is that he is inluded in the 25 for S. Africa and i hope he is given the nod ahead to Hafeez!

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 5:19 GMT

    Okay ... the last thing we need is another change of openers...I honestly feel that this pair is clicking...sure sometimes one of them don't get the scores, but majority of the time, the other tends to pull up his socks and get a decent score on the board. You can't expect to get a Gilchrist + Hayden or Anwar + Sohail combination through a couple of trials.

  • testli5504537 on November 30, 2006, 15:12 GMT

    salman butt and imran nazir should be first choice with taufeq umar 3rd and bazid khan should be moulded in to a opener bcaz he has a good temperment and as he showed against aust A Iin 05 when he faced stuart clark,nathan bracken and mick lewis whom he singlehandedly was taking the attack to

  • testli5504537 on November 30, 2006, 14:27 GMT

    A lot of effort has been put by there the management of PCB to select the right combination of openers. There are 6 players who can be placed in Pakistan’s top order, including Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt, Muhammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Salman Butt and Asim Kamal. There have been many combinations tested in the past. The first question in the (Frequently Asked Questions) FAQs is “Why they are left to be tested in the International Cricket”. They are many other places where their ability to accomplish a position can be tested. The games of ODI and TEST cricket are entirely different from each other. Similarly there are different styles of each player in cricket, therefore players should be nominated with careful analysis and more practice matches. Certain quality experts should be employed to chose the right combination, by looking at there previous performances and statistics. But for now, there is no room for more changes and experiments before the World Cup. PCB should seriously think about this matter. Pakistan team has already encountered various obstacles in the past few months, now it is high time for the Pakistan after a series of record breaking effort by Muhammad Yousuf. Best Wishes Pakistan.

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