England step into Pakistan's shoes, as Pakistan step back
This week's England controversy was an amusing one for Pakistan fans. I'm unconvinced by the argument that Kevin Pietersen had to go because his views were leaked by the media, especially as he does seem to have had the support of much of the England team. Imagine Pakistan players being sacked, forced to resign, or disciplined each time their views were leaked to the media? There wouldn't be a player left to select.
Nonetheless, the ECB managed to perform a decent impression of the PCB by turning a containable scandal into a gargantuan crisis, unsettling the team, and losing a promising captain.
Meanwhile the new PCB has made an effort to bring back the old days, good and bad. The bad is reverting to some really old timers, like Intikhab Alam and Yawar Saeed. Indeed, the nonsensical media ban--a virtual impossibility in our media-driven age--has all the hallmarks of a Yawar Saeed strategy. Furthermore, how Intikhab negotiates the fierce opinions of Javed Miandad, Abdul Qadir, and Aamir Sohail must be a wonder to behold.
The good is that the selectors are backing pace again. Pakistan cricket's success in the 1980s and 1990s was based on the abilities of its fast bowlers, ably supported by an attacking spinner. The batting has ever been unreliable, but the bowlers were capable of making most totals competitive. Pace bowlers also force a captain to attack, which is the preferable mode for the Pakistan team.
Umar Amin's selection is another throwback. One of the thrills of Pakistan cricket was that a talented rookie would be selected from obscurity. Let's hope Amin can revive a tradition that has been lost in this decade. He may be at the beginning of an uncertain journey, but unknown players bring a special fascination.
If nothing else, Pakistan's adminstrators, cricketers, and fans will have been relieved that another cricket nation has played out a pointless drama of Pakistani proportions. For one week, at least, England are the new Pakistan.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here