Australia 2009-10 December 30, 2009

Ten lessons from the MCG

The Pakistan team has much to be proud from the performance at the MCG but surely it is are capable of more


The Pakistan selectors' view that Younis Khan has to prove himself in a domestic match is laughable © AFP
 


Pakistan's defeat in Melbourne was fascinating viewing. Test cricket is tough for Pakistan because of how few matches the team has played since 2006. Pakistan's domestic structure is also poor preparation for away tours. Nonetheless, it would be complacent to excuse the defeat on this basis.

The Pakistan team has much to be proud from the performance at the MCG but surely it is capable of more? Here are the lessons I believe Pakistan cricket should learn from the MCG. Feel free to add yours:

1 Australia remain a formidable team. They may not have the batting strength of old but their pace attack is developing powerfully. Since Pakistan will spend much of the next year playing Ricky Ponting's men, they must develop a strategy to combat Australia's pace attack, especially the left armers against whom Pakistan were particularly poor.

2 In turn, Australia are troubled by pace, something Mohammad Aamer and the West Indies demonstrated. Mohammad Asif has sufficient guile to compensate for his lack of raw pace, but Abdur Rauf doesn't. He generally eased the pressure on the Aussie batsmen. Australia's pace attack is relentless, Pakistan's needs to be the same. That must mean a return for Umar Gul or Mohammad Sami. Waqar Younis should be the best to judge which of the two is in the best form.

3 The pace and bounce of Australian wickets is a considerable help to leg break bowlers. Shane Warne's record speaks for itself, but Mushtaq Ahmed has also enjoyed success in Australia. Saeed Ajmal bowled well at the MCG, however, Pakistan's number one spin bowling option has to be Danish Kaneria. Fourth on the all-time list of Pakistani wicket takers, Danish now has to play a decisive role against the better teams.

4 Aamer is a great find for Pakistan. From the moment he set out in international cricket the young man has shown rare skill and temperament. Knowing that he can dismiss Australia's top order should fill him with confidence but there is only so much one man or boy can do. The other bowlers must share his burden.

5 Despite ridiculous claims by one of Pakistan's selectors, the batsmen failed at the MCG. An Australian tour isn't the place for batsmen seeking to establish themselves, unless they happen to be audacious talents like Umar Akmal. Pakistan's batting order requires players with a track record. When we have a batsman with a Test average of over 50, who can fill the crucial No.3 spot, and who scored a Test triple century earlier this year, why would you hesitate to rush him back? The Pakistan selectors' view that Younis Khan has to prove himself in a domestic match is laughable. The team management have called for him. Why then do Pakistan's selectors act against the best interests of the national team?

6 Imran Farhat scored a fortunate century in New Zealand. The unfortunate consequence is that a stroke of luck has kept him in the team. Pakistan require an opening batsman to partner Salman Butt who has greater experience. The current squad lacks options that Younis Khan's return could have created. The genuine alternatives to Farhat are sitting in Pakistan. But Pakistan must act to improve their prospects by calling upon Kamran Akmal or Shoaib Malik to open the innings.

7 Sydney might require two spinners but Pakistan's tail is too long. Shahid Afridi has become an international class bowler, and why can't he apply his more considered approach to batting in the Test arena? He is in Australia. Surely he would answer the call?

8 Days three and four were good for Pakistan, inspired by the spirit of the teenagers. Can their more senior colleagues learn something from Umar and Aamer? Can Pakistan apply that spirit for five days?

9 Mohammad Yousuf's defensive, risk-averse captaincy has been perplexing. Pakistan have traditionally played their best cricket when they have been combative and attacking. That isn't Yousuf's natural style but he needs to adapt his leadership approach for the sake of his team. To beat Australia you need to slug it out toe to toe. For two and a half days at the MCG Pakistan played with an inferiority complex.

10 Australian can be beaten and Pakistan might have the capability to do it. But they currently have too many weak areas to inspire confidence. Equally, there is no shame in losing to Australia and Pakistan's record in the last decade is dismal. However, this is not the great Australian team of the past two decades. That's why even Mohammad Yousuf's undercooked and muddled Pakistan team will remain a threat. They have to come back hard at the SCG, no holds barred.

Follow me on Twitter while Pakistan are in Australia: http://twitter.com/KamranAbbasi

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

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