Australia 2009-10 December 27, 2009

Thrill of the new is short lived


We need Pakistan's players to learn something from the youngest amongst them, Mohammad Aamer © Getty Images

The build up to this tour of Australia was an exciting one, unexpectedly so after Pakistan's struggles in the past few years. It was the thrill of the new, both sides fielding players with something to prove and unfamiliar with each other. Indeed, this has become one of the fascinations of following Pakistan and is a consequence of the recent dearth of international cricket.

Performances in New Zealand had sporadically promised some special moments in Australia. They might still come but Mohammad Yousuf's team have quickly replaced the thrill of the new with the familiar dull emotions of disappointment.

It's not so much that Pakistan have underperfomed dramatically.The bowlers generally bowled well, even Abdur Rauf, who despite looking anything but a destroyer of Australia, kept a disciplined length and forced Australia to score more slowly than they are used to. The batsmen toiled but unfortunately lost their wickets at important moments.

What's troubling me, however, is Pakistan's approach to this series. The early years of Pakistan's cricket history could be summarised as a worthy effort spoiled by a negative mindset, fragile temperament, and hopeless fielding.

We could be back in the 1960s because that is the nature of our current team: overawed and underwhelming.There are, of course, a couple of notable exceptions, namely Mohammad Aamer and Umar Akmal, the young bucks with free spirits.

It took the players of the 1970s and 1980s, with Imran Khan and Javed Miandad as chief catalysts of change, to create a team of aggression, self-belief and competence in all disciplines but genius in some. This is the tragedy as I see it, and the management and leadership of the current team need to do something about it.

We need Pakistan's players to learn something from the youngest among them. We need them to free their spirits and play with the grit, belief, desire, and passion to win. Some better fielding would help too. We don't need Pakistan to be crushed by fear of failure.

Australia started this Test series nervously. Pakistan have played them back into confident form. This isn't the great Australia of old and Pakistan need to play the reality not the memory, and that approach begins on the training ground and the selection policy. The captain then needs to embody that self-belief on the field.

Up to now, Pakistan are losing this series in their heads, hearts, and butter fingers. Mohammad Yousuf's team need to worry less about the 60,000 Aussies packed into the MCG and think about the millions of their own fans cringing in their homes around the world.

Many a failure has been forgiven for a brave effort. Have a heart boys, and play with yours.

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