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April 21, 2008

Captaincy

It's a record Shoaib, but not as we know it

Kamran Abbasi
Shoaib Malik collects the trophy from Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan v Bangladesh, 5th ODI, Karachi, April 19, 2008
 © AFP
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Shoaib Malik's Pakistan have set a record of successive wins in one-day cricket. A few more home series against sub-standard opposition - before the ICC Champions Trophy - and the record will be unbeatable. This is a Pyrrhic victory made possible by the decimation of Pakistan's international itinerary. To compare Shoaib's captaincy with Imran Khan's is unworthy.

Indeed, the decision-making during the series has created plenty of controversy. Why were the new batsmen given little opportunity to play a substantial innings? Why were the new bowlers under bowled?

A series against Bangladesh - one that has been easily won - would seem an ideal opportunity to develop young players but not, apparently, in the minds of the current decision makers in Pakistan cricket. Yes, you can only beat the opposition presented to you. Yes, a record is a nice-to-have and a source of much welcome cheer. But why is it the development of Pakistan cricket that suffers at each turn?

On a positive note, Salman Butt and Mohammad Yousuf made as merrily as they should have, with Salman's application an encouraging omen. Shahid Afridi maintained his form as an influential wrist spinner. Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul were important returnees. But I was most fascinated by the easy actions and pace of Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz. Bangladesh batted poorly but these two looked to have considerable potential, and it was disappointing that we saw so little of them--even in games that they were picked for.

This reluctance to properly test new players has become something of a feature of Shoaib's captaincy and betrays an insecurity and inexperience that bodes ill. If you can't take risks when you have outplayed Bangladesh then your captaincy will struggle to break free of its inhibitions.

Worryingly, Pakistan's reluctance to properly examine its newer players has left the opening batting slot unresolved. Who opens with Salman Butt remains unclear, and anybody who thinks Kamran Akmal can fill that role on more testing tracks is sadly mistaken. Indeed, a new keeper would have relished the opportunity to challenge Akmal, but Sarfraz Ahmed was completely ignored.

With Younis Khan's mood swings eroding confidence, Pakistan's bowling once again looks more optimistic than its batting. And if we chant the unholy trinity of opening partnership, middle order, and wicket keeper, we find that it is the same lament that Pakistan cricket has been singing for years. How to correct this triad of failings seems to be beyond the wit of those in charge.

No number of manufactured records will mask these fundamental failings.

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

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Keywords: Captaincy

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Posted by nomi on (April 30, 2008, 12:16 GMT)

I totally agree with Mr. Abbasi when he points out the sense of insecurity Shoaib Malik exhibits as a captain. It was absolutely mind boggling to note that players like Fwad Alam who has been with the Pakistani squad for months are still to get a fighting chance of proving their mettle. He is constantly been sent at No. 7 & 8 with just a couple of overs left to play. Wahab Riaz was seriously underbowled. In the fifth ODI, once the opening bowlers bowled the initial 12 overs, it was a foregone conclusion that Wahab will be introduced into the attack being the third pacer. I was then shocked to see Shoaib Malik taking over from one end along with Afridi. What point he was trying to proof at that time. Series was already won with a comprehensive margin and he still was adamant on exhibiting his at-best-ordinary off spin. In the T20, debutant Mansoor Amjad was introduced in the 17th over of the inning for eventually a solitary over. Absurdity at its worst.

Posted by Faridoon on (April 29, 2008, 7:00 GMT)

We needed a clean sweep of the Bangladesh series at any cost. Ban is a team that is expected to be beaten by the second string sides of most test playing nations. Hence, imagine the uproar had we lost a couple of games to them.

This is also why we couldn't risk blooding new players too much. A 5-0 scoreline was essential.

If we'd been 3-0 up agaisnt Australia, India or South Africa, then it would be perfectly acceptable to try out new hands. A 3-2 win agaisnt any of these teams is good. A 3-2 win against Ban would've been pathetic. A 5-0 win re-asserts that we can still beat the low-ranked teams by a good margin, just like any other world team would have.

Further, I don't think it's the Pak captain or the team who are singing their own praises for making a record number of wins; they know that its not much to brag about when playing Zim and Ban back to back. Its the media thats shouting about the record, comparing it with past victories etc. We all know the truth.

Posted by Salik Ahmed Shariff on (April 28, 2008, 1:21 GMT)

Its true that the pakistani team can write their name in the record books as much as they want, as long as they are playing minors such as zimbabwe and bangladesh. Its a lost cause for pakistan, i dont really see where Pakistani cricket is going. Big teams like Australia dont want to tour our country for security reason, A lot of dirty politics in our country unfortunately. The record broken by malik is some achievement for him, its amazing how greedy one can get. Just because he wanted that 11th win he played the same winning 11 in the last odi. Made one change giving naumanullah a stint, made his debut in that 5th odi and didnt even bat. Pakistan were 6 down and he didnt get a chance to bat, why not send him up the order. Malik is a yes man and thats the reason why Ashraf likes him as captain. All of Ashrafs propositions are geefully accepted by Malik and thats why we are ranked 5th in ODI's abd 6th in Test matches. Its about time someone does something about Pakistan cricket

Posted by khansahab786@gmail.com on (April 24, 2008, 23:08 GMT)

Junaid Shah, "Substance" is actually what Mr Abbasi's threads feature profusely and please don't confuse Pakspin with those other pathetic sites where site managers adopt a policy of propaganda and keep on sending postcards to themselves. Junaid, there is a difference between ticking a box to send someone in a playing XI and actually motivating him and making sure he gets an ample opportunity to show his talent. How many balls has Fawad Alam bowled or faced while batting, that has led you to assume he is an "average" player? What has made you so confident that Fawad’s supporters are calling for him to replace Younis or Afridi necessarily- if he is given reasonable chances he can replace Malik and even Misbah

Jamjar, Nice to see your return to PS-you were missed. It is nice to see regulars chipping in every now and then on PS. Jamjar, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and if I ever offended you with any statement, then that was my weakness and please do forgive me. God’s honest truth is that I saw a lot of logic and intelligence in your comments.

Posted by Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on (April 24, 2008, 21:06 GMT)

I really like and enjoy all the humorous writings from Jawed A. Khan of Montreal, Canada,

His observations about Shoaib Malik are very true and the way he described the reality and true value of Shoaib is truly commendable.

Javed, keep writing in your typical style. I know lots of people don’t like you but just continue. You certainly are doing a good job.

Posted by M. Y. Kasim. Houston. Tx. on (April 24, 2008, 21:00 GMT)

Mr. Kamran Abbasi,

I thought you were old enough to have heard this masterpiece of (Late) Madame Noor Jehan's Punjabi song of early fifties.

" Tere mukhre pe kala kala til we,

O' moondia sialkotiaa....... "

Posted by Junaid Shah on (April 24, 2008, 20:02 GMT)

In your next thread why don't you identify& highlight the so called "deserving Youngsters" and also the players whom they should replace.

Posted by Junaid Shah on (April 24, 2008, 19:54 GMT)

Kamran criticism for the sake of criticism is all you can do, your blog lacks substance,you are only stirring up the pot of jingoistic emotions to get more responses,what were you expecting Malik to say after the series?As far as trying out youngsters in all fairness after a long time PCB is really trying to identify and groom young talent,who says Sohail Khan or Fawad Alam were not given any chances, do you actually think Fawad can replace Afridi or Younis Khan his bowling is below par and his batting is average, Sohail Khan has pace but no swing,Nasir Jamshed was given too many chances he is a good find but still needs time,and who says Sarfraz Ahmed is better than Kamran Akmal,his bad patch is over,Sarfraz can't bat like Akmal,Afridi failed at the top order just the way he failed in lower middle order,but it seems all the flak for his failures will go to Malik,its a game Malik can never win.Its people like you who are destroying Pakistan cricket by unnecessarily pressurizing selecto

Posted by Valiyah Khan on (April 24, 2008, 19:50 GMT)

One who hasn't seen the "marketing band waggon" for the Paki Cappy,Malik, on Geo T.V, is surely missing on the whole point.There is such a strong media lobby in Pakistan,which is in favour of this bloke,no matter how unworthy we may feel he is.So Javed A Khan aka Omar Admani,please try to refrain from the art of self praise and concentrate on the fact of the matter instead of your judgemental puns.

Posted by Raja Pakistani on (April 24, 2008, 15:03 GMT)

Malik has a same class of captain as Inzimam. Tiger against weak team and Fox against strong team. Also depends on home ground. Paksitan best captain was Miandad who was never got proper chance because of his background. All Imran success could not be reached with out Miandad performance and master planning. Imran just got credit (Sign of end of the world, people will get credit for the things they do not desrve). In 92 world cup Paksitan won only five matches and Miandad scored 50 plus in all five winning matches. If he was out team out, if he scored team scored. Does any media brought this to you? Does Imran ever mention? We always hear from media/Imran that Inzi, Wasim and Imran won the WC for us. Punjabi Media never mentioned Miandad name. If Miandad name is Javed -ul-haq or Javed Niazi or Javed Ayub Khan etc probably history could different.

Raja Pakistani

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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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