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February 26, 2008

New age

Many a trip betwixt cup and first slip

Kamran Abbasi
Adil Raza celebrates a wicket with his team-mates, Australia Under-19s v Pakistan U-19s, Under-19 World Cup quarter-finals, Kuala Lumpur, February 25, 2008
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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

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Posted by lpjigynjvgfft on (February 9, 2009, 19:35 GMT)

nice

Posted by Martin Hook on (March 2, 2008, 3:53 GMT)

For all the promotion of U19; it is India which is in finals and not the pakistan. So it seems pakistan is not doing all that great in even U-19 anymore. Very sad for them.

Posted by Awais Misri on (March 1, 2008, 21:49 GMT)

I would love to see Akhtar Ayub, Jamshed Ahmed and Anwar Ali play in atleast a few ODI's. One thing our board needs to do is focus on bringing in bowlers who clock an average of 145 km/h into the national team. Military medium bowlers like Sohail Tanvir will just be easy pie for batsmen like Ponting, Hayden et al. Spending money on players like that, and giving out contracts to medium pacers over genuine express pace bowlers like Shoaib is just a travesty. So what if Shoaib spoke out against not being given a contract?? Whether or not we like his attitude, he is the best bowler in the country at the moment and that's what should matter. The PCB has destroyed Shoaib's career and are brining in useless lads such as Tanvir. Thank god for the ICL clearing out trash like Farhat, Sami et al.

and everyone knows that Nasim Ashraf is the most incompetent person on this planet, and has only assumed an important role in our nation due to his relations with Mush

Posted by Philip John Joseph on (March 1, 2008, 18:24 GMT)

Theossa:

It's tough to debate your points because this topic already has too many variables for convenient analysis, so I can only theorize. I would tend to support your point that nutrition plays a role. I'm not so hot on the genes theory. I accept that consanguination and inbreeding is a bad thing, but generally speaking I don't think genes are a problem under normal conditions. I feel Japan made up most of the gap in sports by having developed world nutrition, but I feel their preference for fish and not red meat does still put them a little bit behind, though fish meat is definitely much healthier. Mental strength is tougher to analyse. Americans don't play the same sports that the world plays so the comparison is tough, but I do consider continental Europeans to be mentally tougher than Americans. American and British soldiers are NOT able to fight to the death but historically German and Russian soldiers enjoyed fighting to the death. That is also mental strength.

Posted by Martin Hook on (March 1, 2008, 18:13 GMT)

Javed Khan, like a 10th grade debater you don't pay attention to the fact. Please read Zubair's comment where he has put this matter to rest. And please stop whining and spinning.

Posted by Tair on (March 1, 2008, 9:52 GMT)

With the current crop of failures in the full national team, who despite their failures, manage to be recalled again and again due to their affiliations with the powers that be in the PBC 7 Government, it is high time that young blood is added to the National team. And by that I mean, young players who are there on merit, having acheived or shown great promise at U19 level. Not young players who happen to be the nephew, etc. of a former palyer / PCB official or Army General.

the old adage, of ten used by Geoffrey Boycott, of "..if you're good enough, you're old enough" stands very true and I urge the PCB to deliver a national senior team that Pakistanis around the world can be proud of.

Posted by Zubair on (March 1, 2008, 2:16 GMT)

Kamran Bhai,your question is valid and perplexing.IMO under 19 players of Pakistan are not really under 19 .We all know that many Pakistani people somehow get Birth Certificates indicating a reduced age.This is especially true in the rural and small town population.Indeed, many of our country-men do not have Birth Certificates,it is their high school certificates(that is if they are high school pass)which are the first official documents indicating their age.Recently I saw a Shahid Afridi interview on Youtube where he admitted that he is a few years older than his offical age.In other words we have a team of players who are older and therefore more experienced than the players of other Under 19 teams. Obviously we are able to perform better. The age issue is much more problematic in Bangladesh.I have many Bangladeshi friends who have frankly admitted that their age is much more than their official age.One of them is officially 34 years old and he finished MBBS in 1993!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Rookie Sensation on (February 29, 2008, 23:36 GMT)

Well lets put it this way, its all in our food, and lifestyle, youth in australia workout, exercise follow a well balanced protein diet. minor leagues is a joke in pakistan, its sad to say india has much better talent.

i am willing to place another gaurantee tonight, South Africe will defeat pakistan in U-19 semi's.

Posted by krish on (February 29, 2008, 22:39 GMT)

Hi Javed A Khan, Canada. Thanks for your comment. Sorry, I should have have been more clearer in my statement. You do need skills, commitment and other attributes at any level. What happens at the highest level is consistent demonstration and examination of these skills. In U19 games you can get away with sporadic demonstration of these attributes. To achieve consistency, you need exposure, experience and performance at the highest level and proper guidance in the form of role models or training academies. If you don't learn quickly in your first few seasons in international cricket then you are finished. I agree with you that the cricketer must make it as his responsibility and find means to achieve these attributes. Having said that, there should be avenues and provisions for them to obtain and develop them. This is where the respective cricket boards play a significant part.

Posted by JAVED A KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (February 29, 2008, 14:06 GMT)

Martin Hookerrrr ... what are you saying man? And, how often do you go to Pakistan to say with authority that there aren't any schools in the villages? I do visit regularly and, I know there are schools even in small villages. But, these cricket players weren't born in the remotest part of the country. Check out their place of birth, go and visit Pakistan before passing a sweeping comment. Among the current Australian team except for MJ Clarke and Mitchel Johnson every single player is between 30 and 37 years of age and they ALL look older than their age. As regards looks and aging, Harvard and Stanford scientists and researchers have confirmed that the rate of aging is at least in part genetically determined. The Chinese people don't show aging as much as the Aryan Race. The study participants whose tissues appeared younger than their true age had something - something dearly sought by aging researchers - that made their cells keep activating genes in a more youthful pattern. These genes make up the cellular machinery called, "the electron transport chain," which generates energy in the cell's mitochondria. In the valley of Hunza, Pakistan people are famous for young looks and longevity (100 years plus is common) It is the genes that make people look young or old and, the fingerprint of aging can be detected in blood and skin cells, drugs or lifestyle changes can alter aging process. We all know about the bone density test to determine age. But, the question is: What causes the electron transport chain genes to slow their protein production and why? If tortoises can live for hundreds of years, why do flies self-destruct in a matter of weeks? The distance covered by a fly in a couple of weeks is covered in 60 years by an elephant. Reportedly, the cell has a molecular homeowner that keeps up repairs until a predetermined time. The homeowners in tortoise cells stick around for hundreds of years delaying the decay, while those in fly cells move out within weeks. So, apart from genetics, stressed lifestyle, too much of drugs, alcohol and exposure to sun rays can also lead to aging of the skin and the muscles at a faster rate. I cannot explain to you more than this in this window of limited characters.

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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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