THE CORDON HOME

BLOGS ARCHIVES
SELECT BLOG
July 14, 2007

Spinners

Saqlain's conversion of convenience

Kamran Abbasi
A portrait of Saqlain Mushtaq
 © Getty Images
Enlarge

More and more of us enjoy an existence of divided loyalties. You might live in England or Australia but support India or Pakistan for reasons of birth or ancestry. With the same birth or ancestry you might support England or Australia. These are differences and preferences of the heart we should celebrate. It is possible to be a fully committed British citizen and support Pakistan at cricket.

When it comes to who you would play for the calculation becomes more pragmatic. Those same India and Pakistan supporters living in England, for example, would mostly jump at the chance of playing for England. It is already happening--and rightly their loyalties switch quickly and emphatically to their country of residence.

Some talented cricketers are groomed in one country and then switch loyalties to another, taking up their qualification rights at the start of their international careers. Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Symonds are two recent examples. If you have a choice at the start of your international career, then lucky you.

Other cricketers with insubstantial international careers have switched countries to improve their chances of playing regular international cricketer. Graeme Hick and Dipak Patel made moves for different reasons. This is where players' behaviour begins to verge on the mercenary.

Which leads us to the case of Saqlain Mushtaq. He is still young for a spinner with potentially many years of international cricket before him. For much of his career, he was an indispensable part of the Pakistan cricket team. He almost helped Pakistan win a World Cup. He played a hand in some memorable triumphs. He also took his share of criticism for Pakistan's unpredictable performances and was touched by the finger of accusation for some of the scandals.

Saqlain lost his place in the Pakistan team through a mixture of injury, declining form, and political machinations. He was a spinner who had it all--perhaps even a teesra--and then had nothing. I feel for his plight as an international sportsman cast into the wilderness. But I don't support his willingness to consider playing for England. It seems wrong to me that a player fails to be selected for a country and then fancies his chances with another instead of fighting for his career. It is also unfair on English spinners.

Saqlain has played hundreds of matches for Pakistan. He could play many more. The words he should be uttering are ones of determination to regain his place as Pakistan's premier spinner. These thoughts of England aren't those of a winner, which might mean that he doesn't have the right attitude to compete again at the highest level. I hope not. For Saqlain was once a spinner who held the world in his mesmeric grip. His conversion to England would be an admission of failure and an act of convenience, unworthy of the spirit of cricket.

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

RSS Feeds: Kamran Abbasi

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by kiramatalishah on (January 12, 2010, 12:23 GMT)

3. Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential. www.onlineuniversalwork.com

Posted by Usman Masood on (August 24, 2007, 7:51 GMT)

it seems a bit unfair when consider saqlain an era of spin playing for other country but after reading reviews of "khansahab", honestly i am agreed with him. In Pakistan he won't stand a chance as PCB has worst record of dealing with senior players espically when they have 3 to 4 years cricket left in them, we have lots of such examples. it hurts but if considering from saqlain's point of view i think its right no problem in that... But in my opnion he won't be selected in England team too, but if does he won't stay there long. he has spend alot of time out of Internation Cricket and for that reason. Era is over.

Posted by Usman Masood on (August 24, 2007, 7:50 GMT)

it seems a bit unfair when consider saqlain an era of spin playing for other country but after reading reviews of "khansahab", honestly i am agreed with him. In Pakistan he won't stand a chance as PCB has worst record of dealing with senior players espically when they have 3 to 4 years cricket left in them, we have lots of such examples. it hurts but if considering from saqlain's point of view i think its right no problem in that... But in my opnion he won't be selected in England team too, but if does he won't stay there long. he has spend alot of time out of Internation Cricket and for that reason. Era is over.

Posted by saif ahmed on (August 14, 2007, 18:20 GMT)

It hurts! Hurts real bad just to think that this great bowler may be playing for another nation. Saqlain is the greatest Pakistani spinner and he will remain a Pakistani. I think we didn't do justice to him, we left him in the wilderness for far too long and never ever bothered to look back. He has won us too many matches, an off spinner, a match winner is a rare commodity. He is big at heart, never afraid of going after the greatest of the batsmen. Instead of blaming him for his recent comments about switching his loyalties we should ask PCB some hard questions. "Aur kitno ko khaogay?" The bunch of ignorants have done nothing but hurting Pakistan's cause.

Posted by Ravi on (August 3, 2007, 2:26 GMT)

Quite conservative, aren't you? PCB dropped this very good spinner for reasons best known to them. A bad patch couldn't have been the only reason because everyone has those. Having become a British citizen, I'd be happy for Saqlain if he deservedly manages to extend his international career by getting picked for England.

Posted by b.jani on (August 2, 2007, 10:17 GMT)

i think mr.abbasi evoke some old skeltone by putting this article.as per my knwledge,saqi is a fine bowler.there is no second opinion about that.but one thing i remember when match fix scandle broke out,salim malik,wasim akram,ataa ur raheman,afridi,and many other paki and indian players were involved,i read about saqi's statement that on oth of quaran he denies the involvement in that regard.but truth lies there!!many,his colligue belive that he was also involved with them!!and there after nobody trust him!!and slowly-slowly entire PCB member took their hand like a grabbed hot potato!!this is truth!!!

Posted by Simon Davis W on (August 1, 2007, 15:32 GMT)

I See nothing wrong in Saqi playing for England its bad to critize him when most of them forgot him when he was dropped for Pakistan National team.Now when he is about to pursue his international career for England people remember there is player named Saqlain and he played for Pakistan National team.

Posted by Mujtaba Tariq on (July 30, 2007, 6:46 GMT)

Three Cheers for Saqlain. He should play for England.Why should he suffer the wrath of PCB.He used to be one of the match winners for Pakistan and still remains to be. Why should he not play cricket at the highest level if he is willing and also if the ECB is willing to conisder him. I don't think that he would be recalled to play for pakistan.Only if a miracle happens.Why should a pioneer of the "DUSRA" suffer.I would like to say "Cumon Saqi Bhai" as another great Moin Khan used to call him from behind the stumps.

Posted by Mohsin on (July 27, 2007, 10:09 GMT)

It is entirely unfair to criticise Saqi because i think the credit of this entire fiasco goes to PCB because he was never given a proper chance for a comeback i.e playing him on a dead,barren pitch on which Sehwag had a field day and all of the Pakistan bowlers had figures which were not worth mentioning.He was left in the doldrums after that due to politics in the team and the PCB, not because of his lack in form.As for the dual nationality talk we must noy forget that the man who calls all the shots in the PCB Spent the major part of his professional life in the States.So i have the opinion that Saqlain atleast in ODis is a better Bowler,fieder,and Batsmen then Danish Kaneria and as our ODi team is playing without A SPECIALIST spinner for the last three years i think Sallu Bhai should look no where else and recall Saqlain as soon as possible for ODis as soon as possible or else we know exactly what mau be brewing.

Posted by Faraz on (July 27, 2007, 7:55 GMT)

I do understand that being a pakistani Saqi shouldnt play for England. But then the question arises why do these cricketers put all their efforts and time and to be honest all what they have for cricket is so that they can play Cricket at international level for their country. Well Saqi followed the same lines he had to contest hard to get his place in the National team. He played tremendous cricket. He stole many victories from the other sides. He was the MAN. But then as it happens to all not one or two but to all that once they reach their peak then there is always a glitch a bad patch where you are told to do the basics and once you get back in your grove you can rejoin. Same happened to Saqi. But how did we treated him. Threw him out of the side put a knee injury label onto him and case closed. The player kept saying he was fit and fine and wants to play for his country but at that time we had put fingers in our and others ears as well. He went to england did wonders in the county cricket. But we all went blind. Every thought what was going through his mind? He put every penny on stake to get back into side, but we never listened. Look at this county records and we will be ashamed of ourselves what a great cricketer he is and we have wasted him. Just try to feel what he might have been going through. And now after being a true muslim, i bet he must have shed tears before making this decission. But all we have to say that he must be patriotic? DUH am i the only one who is dumb here.

You dont give him any chance, look at other countries Kumble still kicking butts, We played Miandad unnecessarily in his last world cup. Shoaib Akhter having failed his doping test still is playing. Now look at other sides, De Silva played for so many years even everybody knew he had nothing in him. Mark Waugh, Wesseles, you give me sapce and i will give you names. Imran our political sportso played while injecting pain killers. And here we have a young prolific bowler who goes through a bad patch and he is history.

He is the best off spinner pakistan can produce, but due to pathetic PCB officials we are going to loose him. I wish we come to a point where we are in a world cup final with england and saqi is to take the victory away from Pakistan. I guess thats when he will be avenged. Although we will send him death threats and call him a traitor.

But for a second Kamran sahab...dont hide the complete picture. Dont be like a PCB official. He has all the rights and to be honest he has been pushed to the limit where a person starts thinking of blowing himself up. Atleast he didnt took that path but a much peaceful one.

Cheers

Comments have now been closed for this article

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

All articles by this writer