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December 30, 2009

Australia 2009-10

Ten lessons from the MCG

Kamran Abbasi


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

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Posted by ak on (January 2, 2010, 11:12 GMT)

2 make our pakistans good team the selectors should give the player chances 2 play like imran nazir he played one game then he got chucked out they should give the openers mor chane 2 play look at india they got good openers and we should try 2 be better then them by giving our openers more chances to play if i pick the team i should pick: test team: 1.khuram manzoor 2.salman butt 3.yunus khan 4.muhammad yusuf 5.umar akmal 6.kamran akmal 7.abdul razzk 8.mohmmad amir 9.mohammad sami 10.saeed ajmal 11.mohd asif

4 the odi: 1.imran farhat 2.imran nazir 3.yunis khan 4.mohd yusuf 5.shoib malik 6.umar akmal 7.kamran akmal 8.shaid afridi 9.abdul razzk 10. saeed ajmal 11.mohd asif 20/20: 1.imran nazir 2.imran farhat 3.shaid afridi 4.shoib malik 5.umar akmal 6.kamran akmal 7.abdul razzak 8.rana naveed 9.mohd ammer 10.saeed ajmal 11.umar gul they shuld try this team if they want2 win if u want 2 comment abt my decion plss email me at faisal.52hotmail.com

Posted by muhukumar on (January 2, 2010, 11:10 GMT)

First of all Yousuf should not be a captain, he lacks leadership qualities. Younis Khan should immediately be called into the side, which will strengthen their batting also. Imran Farhat and Salman Butt must be discarded. Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik should Open, Umar Akmal should come in no.4. Younis Khan is 3, and Yousuf should be 5. Bringing Shahid Afridi, and Malik into the opening slot will Improve the lots of Allround capabilities of the team Moreove one can have additional specialist Batsmen

My team looks like this:

Afridi Shoaib Malik Younis Khan Umar Akmal Yousuf Faisal Iqbal/Fawad Alam Kamran Akmal Umar Gul Sami (since Aamer is Injured) Kaneria/Ajmal Asif

Posted by Adnan on (January 2, 2010, 8:14 GMT)

According to mine Yunis should be brought back in Austrailia,Yunis is a world class batsman and he is capable of making a big score in both ODI and Test.He should be brought back in Austrailia as captain cum batsman,in place of Faisal Iqbal and Shoib Malik in place of Imran Farhat

Posted by Irfan on (January 2, 2010, 5:25 GMT)

Enough talk about Pakistan having enormous amounts of raw talent. So what? Big deal! The uncooked material which Pak cricket factory produces is mostly garbage. sifting talent out of this garbage is like finding a needle in a hay stack on a moonless night. Investment in cricket has increased significantly over past ten years; there is more money too, yet we can not put up two batsman who could not lose wickets playing first ten to thirteen overs of an innings! How long do we have to wait for another Saeed Anwar, Aamir Sohail or Rameez? How much longer will it be when fielders like Miandad or Asif will show themselves. We are a nation who lives on the deeds of her heroes and glories of the past. Present soon becomes past and past was all we had and even tomorrow past is all we will have. I am truly ashamed that we haven't found another administrator like air marshal Noor Khan. Don't we have capable, disciplined professionals left in our midst??????? even this piece is about past.

Posted by A. Shaikh on (January 2, 2010, 1:28 GMT)

Ideally, we should have Younis Khan (better batsman) in for Faisal Iqbal, Shahid Afridi (better spinner plus can bat too) for Saeed Ajmal, Gul in for Rauf, and Shoaib Malik/Fawad Alam (can't be worse than him) in for Imran Farhat.

Posted by Masood Muqtadir on (January 2, 2010, 0:18 GMT)

In response to your point # 1, I have the following suggestion: Right handed Pakistani batsmen (including Yousuf) need to adjust their technique playing Johnson and Bollinger. They should stand slightly square on (facing mid on, like Javed Miandad) when facing these two bowlers. Up-right stance (feet parallel to the crease) subject the right handed batsmen to a very awkward angle facing out swinging balls from Johnson and Bollinger. It is like playing across the line, increasing the possibility of edges to keeper and slips. Umar and Misbah’s dismissal in the second innings is a good example. This slight adjustment will be very helpful, I know that for sure, please convey it to Pakistan team if you can.

Posted by Rahman on (January 1, 2010, 22:53 GMT)

It is just a favouritism for some players. Misbah didn;t perform all one year but he is still in team while Fawad Alam score debut century but he now sent home . He just player 2 test matches after that and there are people who scored fifty after number of test matches and say this is due to captain give them confidence wow- scoring fifty is an honour to them . Misbah, imran farhat, Shoib Malik, Salman butt and one i was forget- Faisal Iqbal all these should not be in this team. Instead they should re-call younis, Shahid afridi, Yasir Hameed, Taufeeq umar and asim kamal.

Posted by Sohail-UK on (January 1, 2010, 22:37 GMT)

Hi, Everything said as above I totally agree with. My heart always goes for Pak due to such a talent! i really beleived Pak will pull off the victory as i got up at 11.30pm at night and had plan to watch cricket all night. by 11.50 I was in bed sleeping as the first over decided Pak faith! Start with Batting, Pak performed well when we had all rounders in the team, Wasim Akram, Afridi and razzaq. they can all bowl and bat. surely pak should have included afridi or razzaq! I seriosuly beleive every spinner has to be an all rounder! look at shane warne, kumble, harbajan, abdul qadir. they're all capable batsmen. saqlain got batter with batting but gone. ajmal and kaneria need to pick up their batting. rauf, what was he doing in the team!! fielding? dropping catches in test cricket should be made a crime! and let PCB deduct wages for every drop catches, (watch how Pak catching will improve!) pak needs 5 bowlers i would go for aamir, sami, kaneria, afridi and asif. (u will see the diff)

Posted by Rash on (January 1, 2010, 22:16 GMT)

Butt, Farhat and Iqbal have all played around 30 matches and still their averages are around 30. This is unaccaptable for the top order, it means they have had plenty of oppertunities they are simply not good eonough, debates on techniques, skill and temrament are all academic these guys are simply not upto it! give some once else an oppertunity at least we may stumble across another umar akmal by chance ...

Posted by Syed Jaffery on (January 1, 2010, 21:35 GMT)

We have to accept the fact that Pakistan is not really talented enough at this time to challenge Australlia or other tough sides. It was quite obvious when Ricky Ponting declared in the first inning and after that it was all Australlia. Mind you this Australlian side is even less talented than Kim Hughes side of early eighties. Our batsman just cannot play Test cricket anymore as pointed out by Yousuf. They are too aggressive and crumble easily when the pressure is applied.

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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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