New age February 26, 2008

Many a trip betwixt cup and first slip

A particular question has perplexed me for the last five years or so

A particular question has perplexed me for the last five years or so. It is a question that I expect to disappear during each U19 World Cup but instead the question hammers away even louder inside my cranium. The question is this: How can Pakistan be so consistently successful at U19 level yet so few of those young stars graduate to become full international cricketers?

Pakistan might stumble in this U19 World Cup or they might make it a hat-trick, either way they have done enough again for that annoying question to become even more annoying. What is going on? if we accept that bone scans and better record-keeping ensure that over-age players do not distort the results of this fascinating competition, we also have to accept that there is a rich seam of talent that the Pakistani cricket system fails to develop properly.

It might indeed be too much to expect to find a Javed Miandad or a Wasim Akram at every tournament but it is equally inconceivable that Pakistan can be so successful at two, now three, successive tournaments and fail to find a single genuine new star. An acceptable explanation would be the success of the national team, and we know how feeble that would be as an explanation.

Many a trip, then, betwixt winning an U19 World Cup winners medal and making it to first slip in the national team. The trips are too consistent to be blamed on individuals and are another indictment of a national cricket system that only succeeds in dashing hopes and expectations.

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