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April 7, 2009

Australia and Pakistan tour of the UAE

A wilderness age, a battle for survival

Kamran Abbasi
Shoaib Akhtar tosses a ball in training, Gaddafi Cricket Stadium, Lahore, February 23, 2007
 © AFP
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Many of us love sport for its unpredictable twists and turns. Let's take the final one-day match of England's tour, for example. Or the captivating fluctuations in fortune of the English Premier League. On-field events are the focus of our fascination, a blessing that Pakistan cricket has not received for almost two years.

Pakistan's upcoming series against Australia offers a glimmer of hope that cricket might steal the headlines from non-playing controversies and tragedies. For the blight of Pakistan cricket is that off-field twists and turns have become so routine and so miserably damaging that a series without unnecessary distractions would be a cause for celebration.

It is hard, for example, to be enthusiastic about the recall of Shoaib Akhtar. Few Pakistan bowlers have matched Shoaib in full flight but even fewer have emulated his frailty. How many recent series have been preceded by positive statements about his fitness? Pakistan's globetrotting future must belong to other pace bowlers, a sad realisation even for this Shoaib Akhtar fan.

Shoaib has been a victim of circumstance as well as his own ill-judged approach to international cricket, a conclusion that holds true for Pakistan cricket in general over the last decade. It's payback time. In these days of domestic crisis, international isolation, and widespread misery, Pakistan's cricketers and administrators carry a great responsibility to help lift the mood of a battered nation.

Nobody can seriously expect a victory over Australia but some on-field heroics, some verve and passion would be a start. Unity and professionalism would help further. This wilderness age of Pakistan cricket requires a noble and determined spirit. Pakistan's players might be unfairly burdened with such responsibility, they might be ill-equipped for it, but they bear it nonetheless.

The battle for the survival of Pakistan cricket, a microcosm of a greater battle for survival, begins here.

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

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Posted by Daniel on (May 3, 2009, 17:08 GMT)

This may or maybe not the appropriate forum to express these thoughts, but Pakistan has taken huge steps through this series.

Despite the bickerings of internal politics and the problems of playing away from home, under the captaincy of Younus Khan, Pakistan have shown dedication and sportsmanship that have lifted the international game.

As an Aussie, living in Pakistan, it has been difficult to be proud of Aussie achievements and wins when their arrogance and sledging has been so prominent. But, guided by the Pakisatni example of sportsmanship, this series has seen both teams play in the best possible spirit - led by Pakistan's example. Mind you I can't hear the stump-cam's comments. But it seems both teams are playing cricket, not mind games.

The dignity and sportsmanship shown by the Pakistan team have been an example to all. To watch the way the Pakistan team and its captain have played the series and how the Aussie's have learned, is great. Thanks

Posted by S.Alam on (April 18, 2009, 20:04 GMT)

Unfortunately the die hard Shoaib fans need to understand that in today's day and age, he is only a liability. At his current fitness (or lack there of) he is at best a filler bowler. I am willing to bet that he will not bowl more than 15-20 overs in this series and even that may be a major over estimation. Wake up guys Shoaib Akhter is an old unfit fast bowler who had the potential for greatness, but ended up being one of the biggest disappointments of his generation in the world of sports.

Posted by Hussain on (April 18, 2009, 16:01 GMT)

I think PCB foolishly believes it can generate more revenue by putting Shoaib's name in the squad. If comments here are anything to go by, Shoaib simply does not deserve to be in the team. It is unfair to other pace bowlers at all levels. If Shoaib bowls more than 30 overs in this ODI series, I am willing to give up watching cricket altogether

Posted by Akram on (April 16, 2009, 8:26 GMT)

Kamran, seems we have a lateral thinking. I can bet Shoaib will be sitting in the dressing room just after one (or maximum two) games - the cause, too much wear and tear!

Posted by Irfan on (April 14, 2009, 18:51 GMT)

To discredit any body of his credentials is mean. Given that that person has been a source of different rows and controversies regards to conducts in both professional as well as personal lives. After waiting years to see this person make amends the people become so disillusioned that their sentiments spill over into outbursts that could be disconcerting to every body the haters and the lovers alike. I may go on with this prologue but the space prohibits it. Shoaib is one such person who always have an agenda of his own. His antics through out his career have really turned a lot of people off from him. As he progressed both in age and injuries theoretically he should have grown wiser and stronger but in reality it was quite the opposite. Now we are seeing a different Shoaib. I just hope that he has learned to lay low and put his nose to the grinding wheel and let the results speak for themselves.

Posted by aftab on (April 12, 2009, 18:57 GMT)

This could be Shoaib's truly last appearence on Pakistan side. He has been a player responsible for a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, his discipline and fitness have made more headlines. He did give some memories to the game that will remain his forever. In my view this selection is a derserving farewell. He is in all likelihood not going to perform well, but let's hope that others fill in. We always have a player on the verge of retirement. He's the one this time.

Posted by sami on (April 12, 2009, 6:38 GMT)

I think we should be positive. Shoaib Akhtar has an impact on the opposing teams. Let him play and support him as this is perhaps the last chance for him on international scene, also he can teach the young bowlers playing with him about some tricks. Sometimes i feel very sad about Shaoib, he had the great potential and talent but he destroyed himself, one of the reasons may be that media gave him too much importance and he did not absorb it well and was out of himself. Still i think he should be supported at the tail end of his career.

Posted by PAK FAN on (April 11, 2009, 5:54 GMT)

A truely fit Shoaib is still an assest to the team - issue is he is always fit before the game and never in the game - at least for the last few series he's been given a chance.

Young boys although not of Shoaib's class must be given a chance so that they can be groomed - how about Anwar Ali ? Hard to believe he has never made it in to the playing 11 of Seniors.

Posted by waterbuffalo on (April 11, 2009, 2:42 GMT)

I have been following Pakistan cricket since 1981, I am a Malaysian by the way, I was a swing bowler who thought the world of Imran Khan and Pakistan. Now, with Mohd Yousuf out of the picture and what happened in Lahore and with the actions of the PCB and other Pakistani cricket figures I don't care anymore. I just don't, if Pakistan loses 5-0 I wouldn't bat an eyelash, even though I have hated Australia with a passion ever since 1999 at Hobart. Maybe in five years, when all these players that played in the WC in the Windies have gone, then I'll care enough to watch. At least I have my memories of five series wins in a row in England and 2 WC finals and a drawn series in South Africa and the Windies and amazing wins against India, NZ, Australia and Sri Lanka to keep me company. I don't need to watch this version of Pakistan. It will only sully and discolour and discredit the past.

Posted by Nikhil on (April 10, 2009, 20:46 GMT)

Well said Moin. People just want to bash the BCCI. If the PCB had come up with something like the IPL, and had another private league rival it, the PCB would have taken the same step the BCCI did.

People like Syed Mouhid Bin Ather are at best grossly misinformed, and at worst, absolute idiots. The Indian government and the BCCI did not stop Pakistani players from playing in the IPL. It was a stupid move on the part of the PCB to deny permission to Pakistani cricketers to play in the IPL.

If Pakistanis want anyone to blame for the lack of Pakistani involvement in the IPL, they should blame their own PCB.

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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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