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October 23, 2007

Openers

Afridi: Back where he belongs

Kamran Abbasi

Shahid Afridi was on a roll today. An incisive bowling performance has become a norm, a stunning catch was within the realms of expectation, but the sight of Afridi striding out to open the batting was the most welcome surprise. He might not like it but it's the best place for him in limited-overs cricket. Another welcome sight was an opportunity for Yasir Hameed even though he fluffed it. Pakistan must be flexible in their selection and their approach. It would be equally welcome to see another wicketkeeper given a try. Kamran Akmal's current run is no good for him or Pakistan cricket. This drip-drop Akmal torture must end.

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

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Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (November 3, 2007, 17:55 GMT)

It will be one of the worst things to happen in the history of cricket in Pakistan, if this tour is called off due to the declaration of Emergency in Pakistan.

The same doubts are also being aired on cricinfo and more news to follow in the next few hours. It all depends on the General's speech today!

I don't understand how the state of emergency in Pakistan can affect the matches being played in India? He should be really stupid if he calls this tour off. He should not only allow them to play but he should also open the private TV channels (which have been closed since last night) to air the live matches. At least some people will stay indoors and watch cricket rather than going out and protesting, especially if they have nothing else to do they will go out. I don't think there is any kind of danger for the team, as India has already deployed additional security forces on the ground and also assured for the safety of Pakistani fans, media and the players. So lets hope that the game of cricket can keep the masses together and peace prevails.

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (November 2, 2007, 20:07 GMT)

A win during a warm match match is always a sense of complacency for the Pakistan team. For them it is better to play a major game after a loss, that usually wakes them up and they play well. The Delhi team lost but, Shoaib Akhtar was smashed for a SIX by Dhawan and the whole team jumped up to celebrate. Whether the win should be considered a morale booster or Shoaib giving away 46 runs in ten overs and getting a consolation wicket of a tail-ender also being smashed for a six, is it a sign of worry for the Pakistanis?

Asif ka hona ya na hona doesn't make much difference for the ODI squad, so they should not even think about his absense. IMO, Umar Gul needs to get back in to his rhythm of inswinging yorkers and that is more important for the team. Rao would be economical but, for whatever reasons best known to Malik and Lawson, Rao was not in the playing XI today. Does that mean they are not playing him in the next match? If not, he too needed a match practice before the ODI. Like, Butt Saheb was given a chance and finally he moved his "IF" today and scored 83 in 84 balls, I hope this is the beginning of his new era.

Talking of new era, I was surprised to read on BBC sports that "Australia named squad for a new era," I don't understand what that new era is all about? Playing without McGrath is a new era? Pakistan is also without Inzamam, so? In fact after the 2003 WC all of the senior Pakistani players were axed and they formed a new team, wasn't that a new era for Pakistan?

Anyways, back to the match on 5th in Guwahati, the venue is famous for crowd trouble and also for the early morning fog during this time of the year. India has won 3 matches and lost 3 at Guwahati. I am not sure if Pakistan has played any match there! Whatever it is, winning the toss and batting first would be very important. If Pakistan needs to put pressure on India they have to start with a bang. And Shoaib Akhtar needs to reassert his bowling. Bowling express deliveries is not going to make much difference if he is going to bowl wide and giving width for playing shots. Players like, Sehwag, Dhoni, Yuvraj they all can cut loose. Uthappa has his own style of walking down the pitch and playing a shot over mid-wicket and he has done it well so many times. Therefore, like I said, Umar Gul's yorkers would be the key factor in containing the Indian batting.

Posted by Muhammad Asif on (November 2, 2007, 16:18 GMT)

By doing so you are just demoralising the young guys nothing else....

Posted by Muhammad Asif on (November 2, 2007, 16:16 GMT)

imran nazir, shahid afidi & kamran akmal at the top order shows how naive we are about cricket. Have cricketing sense & don't stop the way of young guys. Give them a chance to find out some new saeed anwar or amir sohail......

Posted by Nadeem Rajput on (November 2, 2007, 14:54 GMT)

Why again Kamaran Akmal, Misba -ul-haq, Imran Nazir & Butt????

Even now they score in a match.

This is unfair with the other players who got only one chance or no chance at all.

In past PCB gave Taufeeq Omer, Asim Kamal (no chance at all), Faisal Iqbal, Fawad Alam (got only one chance recently), Sarfraz Ahmed, Anwer Ali, Jamshead (No chance)

DOUBLE STANDARD or I need to agree with Saima Above.

Nadeem Rajput

Posted by Raja Pakistani on (November 2, 2007, 14:31 GMT)

For Saima Khan

All above players have two things common.

GUESS WHAT!!!

1) PUNJABI 2) NOT CONSISTENCE IN PERFORMANCE

Raja Pakistani LA USA

Posted by mujtaba hussain on (November 2, 2007, 13:24 GMT)

well said jamjar! disappointed as you are brother but i quiver to think of the outcome of the inda/pak series if pakistan dont get their act together.but hey no one can predict the drama of a pak india affair.best of luck pakistan as you will need all the luck you can get.

Posted by Osman Ali Khairi on (November 2, 2007, 11:29 GMT)

Unfortunately, Javed. A. Khan has retorted to my post, on the basis of some erroneous presumptions. But before, I elucidate what I expect from Afridi and try my utmost to demarcate that every story has more than two sides or perspectives, here’s one from Mir Taqi Mir.

Kia kahay gay hum…Agar koi poochlay Kiss liay aye thay…aur kia kar challay

Though, my great grandfather Rashid-ul-Khairi was a renowned Urdu writer, I am ashamed to say I don’t have profound or consummate understanding of most Urdu ‘misras’. Hence, if Javed A. Khan could translate Amir Khusro in simple or ‘salees’ Urdu or even English for that matter, it would help. French would be futile. For ‘Comma tale vou’ and ‘Comma Tu Ta Pelle” are all I know. And I’m pretty sure that’s definitely ‘not’ how they’re spelt. But oh, I do know that it’s “lush” and not “Laiysh” as you incorrectly stated.

This one by Mir Taqi Mir though, encapsulates Afridi’s essence and his impact on the game. Mr. Javed A Khan, and let me just say that I hold your opinions in high regard, not because you’re older but because you back up your logic with rational arguments, I arrived at my ‘bowling quotes’ courtesy Rajesh in his ‘Afridi’s fantastic run’ column. Those averages that I mentioned were not a figment of my imagination but were stated or quoted in that very article. (How convenient of you to completely overlook them but that’s not even the point) For the record, I don’t judge a book by its cover and I ‘always’ do make an effort to look at situations from a well-rounded, dispassionate angle (hence, my support for Younis) but at the end of the day, averages hovering around the late 30’s to the early 40’s during a time frame of 8-10 years, do not in any way justify an individual’s inclusion in the team as a bowler. As a natural ramification, all this twaddle that Afridi has been a consistent bowler for Pakistan should be swept under the carpet. Granted, this year has been phenomenal by ‘his standards’ but never in the past, has he been able to guarantee his position in the side by virtue of his bowling performances.

I don’t blame for you for being unable to read between the lines in my previous post but what I was trying to say sir, was that Afridi, after having had so much exposure to international cricket, should be able to play ‘according to the match situation’. I mean after more than 250 odis, it’s about fricken time he did. You mistakenly assumed that I and other Afridi critics want him to ‘score big’ in every match. What we want is for him to tone down his aggressive instincts a bit and (that imperatively, is not synonymous with altering his natural game) and play according to the prevailing circumstances. Clearly, in the final odi against SA, when singles were the need of the day, Afridi went about slogging away as if he wasn’t concerned with the team’s cause. I don’t mind losing. But when there is no application or an effort to play sensibly on Afridi’s part, it does bother me. Also, this mindset that the coach has no contribution or nothing useful to offer to us, is one of the fundamental reasons why Afridi hasn’t evolved into a consistent batting all rounder. I don’t know where you work or what you do, but if I told my boss Richard, “I don’t value your input and frankly, I don’t even know why you’re here” I can assure you I’d get fired. I know working at World Bank is very different than playing cricket. But what’s consistent or chronic is that without self-actualization and the effort to ‘constantly improve your game’, you never achieve your goals in life. And at the end of the day, Afridi plays for a national side and when he does something foolish, it is Pakistan that suffers.

I was in Delhi for the final odi between India and Pakistan (the one you talk about). And I had Pakistan’s flag wrapped around me. And when Afridi went berserk early on, I could hear my voice echoing, “Pakistan Zindabad” despite being engulfed by a sea of Indian supporters. I had goose bumps then. Aah, what a feeling that was….. I hence, think it’s unfair of you to think we are biased and prejudiced when it comes to Shahid Afridi. We love Afridi, because he plays for Pakistan. But just like Wasim Saqib and many others think Younis needs to be more responsible and consistent, we think Afridi needs to get his act together. Can’t you respect our opinion?

Posted by Awas on (November 2, 2007, 10:22 GMT)

After my last posting on Kamran Akmal, I just read in The News that the PCB are actually thinking of giving him a break in the series against Zimbabwe. So, the ideas that we come up often in this Pak Spin are not so bad after all ;-)

Posted by fhs on (November 2, 2007, 2:57 GMT)

Question: If Pakistan win the 1st two ODIs, would it change your negative views and thoughts. I am sure we will start good but you have to promise to write healthy and positive comments then. It is time to support our team on this tough tour of India.

Go Pakistan!

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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 international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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