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January 19, 2009

New age

Pakistan's new beginning is a last chance

Kamran Abbasi
Shoaib Malik finishes a drug test ahead of the Champions Trophy, Lahore, July 20, 2008
 © AFP
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Barack Obama may steal the headlines around the world tomorrow but in Pakistan he will have to share them with cricket. With the dearth of internationals in 2008, the series against Sri Lanka has the feel of a new beginning.

The players are much the same but Pakistan cricket is now run by ex-cricketers who have a genuine passion for quality and success. They want change and believe that they can make it happen. Messrs Miandad, Qadir, and Sohail should - and probably do - realise that if they fail Pakistan cricket may never recover. To me, this new beginning carries the threat of a last chance.

Shoaib Malik's team go into another series with familiar question marks over the consistency and quality of the batsmen, and howling criticisms over Malik's captaincy. But the word from the Pakistan camp is that the spirit amongst the administration is good and the big egos are aligned.

Sri Lanka, the saviours of Pakistan cricket's fixtures and finances, will be less generous in battle. The duel threat of efficiency and mystery will sorely test Pakistan's patience. Reports about the state of Karachi's pitch give Sri Lanka more confidence than Pakistan, whose rustiness should mean that a series triumph will be a genuine surprise for Malik and his men.

Yet the public expectation and attention will be such that any failure is likely to be judged harshly. My own view is that the selectors made a fundamental mistake in not taking this opportunity to replace Malik. It can only be a matter of time before his captaincy is exposed again and he loses his job. A new beginning, with so much hanging on it, deserved the right leadership on the field.

Nonetheless, this is a time for a minor celebration. Cricket is back in Pakistan, the ex-players in the cricket board are determined to succeed, and the right players might get selected. Now cricketers, administrators, security forces, politicians, and fans have to show the world that Pakistan can be a vibrant and essential venue for international cricket.

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

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Posted by mukesh kunal on (February 22, 2009, 15:15 GMT)

I think its a bold move by appointing Younis Khan as the captain of this new young pakistan team.As this new team needed a leader who would motivate and back his players and trust them. But i think that such crisis of quality of players in the team.Mohammad Younus's absence has also been felt by the pakistan team as we saw in the recent concluded ODI's where middle order fell like cards .Which was not the case 2 or 3 years back .When he was the strength of middle order but in the present team none other than Misbah or Shoaib Malik is there whom we can rely upon.Samething is applied for the bowling department also.Quality fast bowler of Wasim Akram's rank is missing Shoaib has that potential but his place in the team is not permanent because of injury.So in such crisis situation its a good move to promote Younis as captain as he the only one to revive and convert this young and inexperienced team into a winning unit. And we all wish him best of luck for this uphill task assigned byPCB.

Posted by Nadeem Ul-Haq on (January 28, 2009, 9:18 GMT)

I think it is a bold move by the PCB naming Younus Khan has captain. He will bring excitement to the role.I would love to see M. Yousaf as is deputy and they should also Abdul Razzak and Imran Nazir.

Posted by rehan on (January 27, 2009, 2:30 GMT)

we have no choice. I think we and PCB should give him chances to prove his self in captaincy.

Posted by Chandio Baba on (January 26, 2009, 14:44 GMT)

Sallam to all, Firstly Shoaib malik has been an OK captain so far.... there have been some headline stories so far including his view on players he cannot get along with or think he should not be captian. I would like to remind readers that Pakistan will always be a mecurial side no matter what captian!! 1 match they are superb anext match they are all out for 75, we as Pak fans have all been there before trying to defend our team. But at the same time at remark to the farce Follower have you any idea do watch cricket?? Pakistan have played all the big guns and have beaten them home nd abroad so please keep your crap comments to yourself please. Pakistan has been one of the best teams despite all the negative press and also negative perception on Pakistan and have always come in winners, we thrashed England the last time they visited and also beat India at home and played very well on the last tour to SA so check yourself. However due to political problems we have no tests in 2008.

Posted by Farce Follower on (January 26, 2009, 10:44 GMT)

A whole lot of talented cricketers, wasted by improper processes and lack of exposure - that is Pakistan. It is time Pakistan played the real big guns - Australia, England, SA and India. Now that the series against Sri Lanka has showed the weaknesses, it is time Pakistani administrators got real and chopped West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe from 'match practice'. Shahid Afridi is an imposter and so is Kamran Akmal. And did I hear someone comparing Malik to Sehwag - what a joke. In Tests, Sehwag is devastating. In ODIs, Malik still needs to learn. Sehwag screws up a bowlers' mind. Malik cheers them up. Don't tank up averages - when he played 10 matches on the trot with the likes of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Posted by JamJar on (January 25, 2009, 9:27 GMT)

Fahad Chugtai, no you my friend posted your comments too early! What match are you referring to? I'm guessing its the after the first SL match, before the 100 odd run defeat of 200 odd run trashing of Pakistan!

How much time does Malik need? What can we take away from this series as Pakistan moving in the right direction? Granted, my local team in Scotland has probably played more cricket than Pak amidst the thunderstorms up here but Malik would be given time if signs were emerging that the team is improving. With the performances we've had this series, what can be taken away as signs of improvement?

Malik's stubborness to back Akmal up is ridiculous! I love Osman Samiuddin's scathing attack of him and rightly so! 'His batting makes up for his sloppy glovework'! Come on dude, his average is 25 odd and we have Rao who averages just over 20! Pak need to wake up and live life in the real world and not to its corrupt and crony way its used to. Ridculous, absolutely ridiculous!

Posted by Annonymous on (January 24, 2009, 12:36 GMT)

Brilliant.Losing by 234 runs shows the greatness of the pak team

Posted by jilani on (January 24, 2009, 1:55 GMT)

I think Shoaib should absolutely stay as a captain. At least he "wants" the job unlike Younis OR Pietersen. To be quite fair, I have seen a difference in him and he needs another year or two to mature.

Rather than drop him as a captain, we may need two separate captains-test and then 1day/T20. I vote for Shoaib as latter and Younis as former.

Also Shoaib Akhtar should focus on shorter format.

-Jilani

Posted by waterbuffalo on (January 23, 2009, 15:42 GMT)

Now Malik backtracks on earlier comments because "Senior Board Officials" have scolded him for being honest and direct. Now he says he wasn't talking about Akhtar, one thing is for sure Malik isn't a politician, he isn't smart enough to be one , judging from his infantile line of reasoning. Pakistan is stuck with this mama's boy of a captain, because no one wants the job, and why would they? You cannot be honest and you cannot act like a captain because some anonymous Board official is going to give you a tongue lashing whenever he feels like it.

Posted by Nadeem Ul-Haq on (January 23, 2009, 10:27 GMT)

I think Malik should stay as captain coz he is doing ok so far. I am over the moon that international cricket is being played in pakistan lets just hope everything goes to plan and other nations start to tour pakistan again. And by the way, why is this sri Lankan series not televised on ARY digital or Geo. I was told that all Pakistan home series would be televised by ARY. Could anyone shed any light on this matter.

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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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