Australia 2009-10 January 12, 2010

Please, green cap before greenbacks

Differences of opinion are inevitable but the serious problem is that the spat has reinforced the fears of many Pakistan supporters who believe that the players are hell bent on putting themselves first and above the interests of the national team


Without his batting ability Kamran Akmal would be universally condemned, and perhaps that is his salvation © AFP
 

The manner of Pakistan's final day capitulation in Sydney was always going to hurt players and supporters. Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal and Misbah ul Haq in particular were unlikely to extract much sympathy.

No surprise there then, but Team Pakistan has managed to find another way to surprise us. The host television company could not have hoped for better other than to organise a Pop Idol style public vote to decide who will keep wicket for Pakistan. Stumper Idol doesn't have quite the same ring to it but I'd have tuned in.

My guess is Kamran would be voted out. Most fans have lost faith in his glovework and the Sydney Test just reminded everybody how often he has dropped important chances, opportunities that decide between success and failure.

Without his batting ability Kamran would be universally condemned, and perhaps that is his salvation. The boy can bat but he is too prone to throw his wicket away. A stint as a specialist batsmen might force him to rethink his attitude and give Pakistan another genuine batting option.

But the real issue of this week has been the sinister sentiment surrounding the wicketkeeping row. Yousuf, Kamran, and possibly Umar have seemed to hold one view while the PCB and the rest of the team management have held another.

Differences of opinion are inevitable but the serious problem is that the spat has reinforced the fears of many Pakistan supporters who believe that the players are hell bent on putting themselves first and above the interests of the national team.

There was a time when wearing the green cap with five pointed gold star was the pinnacle of achievement. Yes, some unworthy players got to wear it but it was hard to argue that the majority were probably the best available.

Unfortunately, the last decade or so has seen politics and personal preferences take an even firmer grip of cricketing affairs. Fans no longer have confidence that the best are being rewarded with the cap. Nor do they have confidence that those with the cap will act in the best interests of the team.

This might not be true but the perception is damning. Pakistan supporters old enough to remember will recall a time when their representatives wore the cap with pride and fought to the last. The perception is that priorities have changed.

An eternity in the limelight and an IPL contract have become the objectives of modern players. I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine, and hang Pakistan cricket. Ultimately, the cricket board is responsible for tolerating this nonsense, and players are responsible for allowing us to question their motives.

Values are important in times of adversity. Australia built a cricketing legacy upon them. The baggy green is still the most treasured and well-earned possession of any Australian cricketer. It's a lesson that is hitting Pakistan cricket squarely in the face and will continue to do so over the next 12 months. For Pakistan's cricketers, what better value could there be than putting the green cap before greenbacks?

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

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