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January 18, 2010

Australia 2009-10

Few lessons learned, plenty of homework

Kamran Abbasi


Khurram Manzoor was the revelation of the series, which signifies the extent of Pakistan's failure. His attitude and application in a crisis were refreshing © Getty Images
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Mohammad Yousuf wants to learn how to captain. Intikhab Alam wants his players, especially the seniors, to learn from their failures. Pakistan's emphasis on learning is admirable, but it is also baffling. A learning culture does not exist in the Pakistan team, an excuse culture does. In fact, the calls for learning sound like just another excuse to deflect criticism from the leadership and management of the Pakistan team.

Pakistan have been taught much over the last two tours, particularly by a professional Australian team, but they have learned little. The mistakes are the same and the captaincy no better. The same problems that existed before the New Zealand tour still exist today. No progress in the areas of concern.

Have Pakistan learned who should partner Salman Butt? No. Have Pakistan learned who is an alternative to Younis Khan at number 3? No. Have Pakistan learned the identity of their first choice to bat at number 6? No.

Have Pakistan's batsmen learned how to balance attack and defence in Test cricket, despite plenty of first-hand lessons from the Australian batsmen? No. Have Pakistan's tail-enders learned how to put a price on their wickets? No. Have Pakistan learned that Danish Kaneria can make the difference against the best teams? No.

Have Pakistan learned how to hold important catches, despite how much the drops have cost them? No. Has Yousuf learned anything of the art of captaincy and leadership, despite Ricky Ponting's masterclass in man-management and aggressive tactics? No.

Australia fully deserved their victory, although Pakistan handed it to them too easily. And that's the crux of the disappointment among supporters. The buildup to this tour generated great excitement, not because Pakistan fans expected their side to win. But because there was a real expectation, perhaps misplaced, that Pakistan were capable of putting up a fight and emerging stronger. Sadly, there was little fight, except from the bowlers until their wings were clipped by the defensive tactics.

The problems in Pakistan cricket run deep and some of them are beyond the control of the team management and the cricket establishment, but is this really the best we could have done? Ponting's Australia isn't yet a great team, even this confused Pakistan team almost stole a Test from them.

Despite the disappointment of a poor preformance, what positives can Pakistan take from this season of Test cricket? Here's my list, add yours:

1 Mohammad Aamer confirmed his ability and potential at Test level.

2 Mohammad Asif is back to his international best, but like Aamer he suffered from the negative field placings.

3 Mohammad Sami was a pleasant surprise and adds useful bench strength, provided he can maintain his Sydney form rather than returning to his bad old ways.

4 Umar Akmal is a star batsman in the making, but he isn't yet ready to shoulder the burden of the batting. He needs more guidance on how to build a Test innings, although who would he ask for help?

5 Sarfraz Ahmed is a better gloveman than Kamran Akmal, but he needs to quickly convince with his batting. At least Pakistan have a genuine alternative.

6 Salman Butt is the more secure of Pakistan's openers and deserves a decent run. He needs to work on the rest of his game. His failings are well known although undeserving of public abuse.

7 Khurram Manzoor was the revelation of the series, which signifies the extent of Pakistan's failure. His attitude and application in a crisis were refreshing. At one stage, he was prepared to take all the responsibility for saving the Hobart Test for Pakistan. He seemed to relish the challenge. A shame that he saved it until the final day, but it was a brave effort that deserves to be rewarded with more opportunities

The one-day series offers Pakistan a chance to regroup and finish on a high. Limited-overs cricket is less of a tactical challenge, although attack is again the best form of defence. The shorter game will suit Pakistan's players and hide their deficiencies. And returning players will give the team a different complexion and personality.

But the disappointment of the performances in this Test series will be hard to forget for Pakistan fans. Their team has not even stagnated, it has gone backwards in three important areas: batting, fielding, and captaincy. Pakistan's approach is a relic on the international stage, ill-suited and ill-prepared for the rigours of modern Test cricket.

Most disappointingly, few lessons have been learned over this season of Test cricket, and there is plenty of homework for Mohammad Yousuf and his men. But the first step is an honest appraisal of the state of the team and Pakistan cricket more broadly. Will the cricket board, coach and captain have the wisdom for such an assessment, and have the guts to do what's best for Pakistan cricket rather than themselves?

Follow me on Twitter during the Australia series: http://twitter.com/KamranAbbasi

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

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Posted by Nhi on (March 2, 2012, 5:58 GMT)

Interesting idicnent in the final day of the test Aus Vs. England. Siddle bowled a shoulder ball to Broad who swiped it between slips to IIIman for 4. Broad took a walk down the pitch and bumped his shoulder against Siddle (twice once on his way down and again on his way back all very deliberate). reminded me of Ghambir vs Watson. Chances of this being even mentioned by the 3rd umpire ZERO!! welcome to fair international cricket Raj

Posted by P-.Balasubramaniam on (January 23, 2010, 7:49 GMT)

With a potent bowling force like yours you have the best chance to challenge all the best teams in the world in all conditions.

It was absolutely stupid and dissapointing to lose the 2nd test when the Australians were in the mat. If Yousuf should be kicked for his negative fielding placements then the batsmen should be flogged for not chasing the 176 target. What it called was common sense and who will teach common sense?

With Asif, Gul, Rana, Ajmal, Kaneria you have a bowling force which can challenge all comers in all conditions. With batsmen like Yousuf, Younis, Shoaib amd Umar what more should a tem need to be competitive, only a collective will and suitable action in the field.

We have a saying in Tamil 'Oor Koodi illuthan tha theru'the meaning is if cart needs to be moved in one direction all the forces should be deployed in only in that one direction if each keep pulling in their own fanciful ways then the cart will remain stationery only.

Posted by Salman on (January 23, 2010, 0:08 GMT)

The most valuable weapon of Pakistan (Afridi) in ODIs is sent so low in the order that he gets 5-7 overs to play..what a pity, and when are we ever going to learn from anything? its like degrading our own power and not utilizing it. Imran Nazeer is not seen anywhere in the time, and its another most unfortunate event. Above all this, our captian's field placing is such that the opponents need not rely on 4s and 6s, they can take 6 runs per over in singles and without any problem and at any stage of the game...it is provided to them as a free gift!

Posted by Vishwa on (January 22, 2010, 2:57 GMT)

Pakistanis keep claiming that they are world champion in T20. We all know that T-20 is not Cricket; the real Cricket is actually Test Cricket. And, don’t we know Pakistan’s position in Test Cricket? Pakistan plays erratic and unpredictable Cricket, and by the time they display their unpredictability, a T20 game is over! Maybe, that’s why they are world champion in T20. They don’t get enough overs and time to demonstrate their inconsistency, unpredictability and randomness in the shortest version of Cricket.

Posted by Salman on (January 21, 2010, 9:32 GMT)

If IMRAN NAZIR is not there in a 50 over match, then I think we have learnt nothing yet!!! This is the sad state of our selectors that are putting the whole nation on shame and I am not sure who select these selectors and board of cricket? One of the finest player in the world is sitting outside and the country is loosing matches, what a shame!

Posted by Khurram Humayun on (January 20, 2010, 12:24 GMT)

First of all i am utterly disappointed on our defeat against Aussies, i also believe this time we had a great chance of beating Australia in their back yard, Yousuf not at all captain material he is mentally very defensive and pessimistic, we need some one who can lead from the front currently i can only think of afridi from the available lot. Akmal bros need to be more consistent with their roles, i know omer is a great prospect but he need to curb his aggression and shud apply as per the game requirement; kamran i think should not take his place in the team for granted. I think our openers surprisingly did better than i had expected, we shud keep the same pair for couple of series. At last we need to bring in new fresh blood, pls stop rotating same tested players like younis coming in again and also Misbah. We need new coach as well.

Posted by Aleem Latif on (January 19, 2010, 16:18 GMT)

Pak ODI Squad should be:

1.Salman Butt 2.Kamran Akmal (Keeper plus Opener) 3.Younis Khan 4.Mohammad Yousaf (Just a player not a captain) 5.Umar Akmal 6.Shoaib Malik 7.Shahid Afridi (Captain) 8.Mohammad Amer 9.Rana Naveed (No Umar Gul - he is absolutely out of form. Rana can bat too and is more unpredictable then Gul) 10.Saeed Ajmal 11.Mohammad Asif

Posted by Aleem Latif on (January 19, 2010, 15:54 GMT)

Excellent article - Usman you are bang on target mate as usual in reflecting the true feelings of Paki fans and supporters. Just to add few words - Yousaf and Intikhab's statements after loosing the series were absolutely stupidly hilarious. In my view both of them retarded lazy individuals who have absolutely no skills for the tasks they had been assigned to. As a first step we demand these two to be eliminated immediately from their duties if we have to save our honors for the ODI series. For the life me - I cant understand why cant these buggers take advantage of the technology like OZs do - to read the strengths and weaknesses of each opponent player and then targets them accordingly. Paki bowlers may have been talented - but do we have to do with that talent if they only managed to get 10 OZ wickets only twice in the whole series. If Yousaf was lazy and coward then why none of the bowler demanded field settings according to his wishes. Where the hell was the game plan? no where?

Posted by Hur on (January 19, 2010, 15:35 GMT)

They ll never learn anything thts for sure. And we cannot blame them for tht. Look at the leader of their country and tht reflects on every aspect of tht country..... You cannot blame Yousuf for tht type of leadership he is not a leader he is a follower :)

Posted by Atheek - Sri Lanka on (January 19, 2010, 14:27 GMT)

Good autopsy of the test series. I think the problem lies behind the domestic cricket set up of Pakistan. For foreseeable future international cricket will not be played at Pakistan. South African cricket suffered more than this. They were able bounce back in style because of their strong domestic set up.

Pakistan posses the best bowling attack in my opinion. Try to develop some seaming wickets for Pakistan domestic cricket. The future Pakistani batsmen will be able to play long innings in demanding condition after some time. This will be useful in the long run.

Finally, I don't think there will be a solution exist for the fielding problems of Pakistani teams

Atheek

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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 international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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