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February 5, 2010

Australia 2009-10

No wins but finally some pride

Kamran Abbasi


Mohammad Yousuf's time as Pakistan captain must come to an end © Getty Images
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Nine defeats out of nine, a depressing outcome. Yet Pakistan leave Australia with the knowledge that they can challenge in world cricket, especially in the limited-overs format. As much as anything, the last two defeats have shown that Pakistan have forgetten how to finish off a match.

This confidence-sapping Australian summer has exacted a heavy toll. But there is spirit in the camp, which is often brought out by adversity--although it is no coincidence that Pakistan's best performances have been in the absence of Mohammad Yousuf. Despite his surreal claims about Pakistan's great achievements, the captain's time must be up to be replaced by the double act of Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik.

Pakistan don't play a Test for some months, hence all they need do is confirm that Afridi will lead in limited-overs cricket with Malik his deputy. Younis looks to be out of any reckoning. Afridi can hold his place as a bowler, any batting is a bonus. But Malik cannot justify his selection as a batsman. He should play as an allrounder, which is also better for the balance of the team.

If nothing else, the past few months in Pakistan cricket have demonstrated how important the spine of decision making is in cricket: chairman of cricket board, chief of selectors, coach, and captain. Pakistan's spine is like an eel's, all jelly. At least Iqbal Qasim has had the decency to go. The rest are hanging on like murderers at the funeral of their victim, no shame or dignity.

The road to any kind of success is long and arduous but it needs to begin with the immediate exit of Messrs Butt, Alam, and Yousuf. Australia have shown Pakistan what years of professionalism can achieve. It cannot guarantee success but it can make the difference. The world's best and the world's worst cricket administrations have just observed the outcomes of their labours, and the contrast can never have been more stark.

Pakistan's cricketers do have the talent to excite and succeed but the spine that supports them is an international and obvious joke. The supporters of Pakistan cricket all around the world, Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis, all deserve better. Pakistan may have lost the final two matches of the tour but there were many moments of joy and pride, and for an embattled people those moments are like gold dust.

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Posted by syed Murtaza on (March 16, 2010, 14:31 GMT)

sorry guys i dont agree with this thing that pakistan an weak team its not its the management and selection commetie who made it weak. The whole world says shahid afridi can change the image of pakistan cricket as he is an agressive captain like doni and ricky he can utilise the potential of his players very but i cant understand the strategy of pak cricket y r they even thinking of somebody else as captain. plz ijaz sahab plz utilise ur power house(afridi) and let him rule not only his team world ranking also......

Posted by papaindia on (March 3, 2010, 15:20 GMT)

We do need a ball hitting captain. Period.

Posted by kaka on (March 1, 2010, 7:49 GMT)

We dont need a ball biting captain. Period.

Posted by Ruchit Vachhrajani on (February 23, 2010, 2:46 GMT)

I liked the way you have clearly mentioned - Pakistan have forgotten how to finish off.

It is not just limited overs, even in the Sydney test, Pakistan set an example of how to lose a won match.

The Aussie team was almost Australia A team. Many players were out of the squad due to injury and other reasons. The fast bowling pair of Harris and Siddle was actually the third pair because Hilfaneus, Tait, Bracken and Bollinger were not available.

The problem with Pakistan is, even if they perform well, they are not in the winning habbit.

So yes, an inspiration is required.

However, a captain needs to be matured enough to take the responsibility. Afridi is certainly not the option.

And as far as leaving the positions (Iqbal Qasim an others) is concerned, I consider it is a coward act.

Show responsibility and change the scenerio instead of just raising hands and going away. Learn from mistakes instead of giving up. Pakistan has talent but needs professionalism.

Posted by roshan on (February 18, 2010, 18:46 GMT)

what would have happened if Bangladesh had gone to Australia for 3 test and 5 ODI? They would have lost 3-0 and 5-0 respectively. Well! in that sense Pakistan is no different from Bangaladesh, no wonder they are ranked at number 7. There are any champion cricketers left in them. If not for 20-20, they are a nothing team.

Posted by jawwad jafar on (February 15, 2010, 6:56 GMT)

Since the departure of Saeed Anwar, Pakistan has never found anyone matching his skills and technique. He was no doubt one of the finest opening batsman Pakistan has ever produced alongwith Hanif Mohammad and his son Shoaib. To me, only these three were world class openers Pakistan has ever produced. We have some other good names but they were not world class. Openers like Muddasar, Mohsin, Aamir Sohail, Rameez Raja, Majid Khan and Sadiq Mohammad, all fall in good category but they were not world class. Only top three can match the skill and record of Worlds greatest openers like, Greenidge and Haynes, Hayden and Langer and many others of these categories. But the unanswered question is that why Pakistan cannot find a good opening pair again, or even a single good opener in all these years after Saeed Anwar. I don’t want to go into the details as it wont help. I have a solution to the problem and I would give examples to justify my suggestion. One thing we all agree that Opening the batting is not the easiest of job. Infact, it’s the most difficult position to bat on. It takes great skill, patience, good selection of strokes and real determination to be a good opener. I am sure that any player starting his career cannot have all these skills, with few exceptional greats like, Lara’s , Inzi, Tendulkar. Our problem is that we always try players as openers who are fresh and young and we through them straight into deep water by sending them opening the innings in test matches. I totally disagree with it and I go by sending senior players up the order, who have experience to apply all those techniques required to open the batting. If we take Aussies as bench mark, as we should be doing, we will find numerous example of this practice which I am talking about. We can look at their current openers, Katich and Watson, who are extremely successful. Both of them were middle order players and after some experience they tried them as openers and they are now extremely successful. Similarly, Sehwag started his career batting at No 6 scoring hundered and later on transformed as opener. Micheal Vaghan is another example who started as middle order and later on was a successful opener. Justin Langer who was one of the finest openers of all time also falls in the same category. Sanath Jayasuria, Tilkaratne Dilshan, Ashwell Prince , you will find so many examples justifying what I am saying. Moreover, one point that justify my suggestion the most is that our new fresh blood of openers are not doing well for more than 10 years now, so I think this strategy should be tried. To me best available option for openers is Younis Khan and Muhuammad Yousuf. I know there will be many eyebrows raised on this but I again refer to what I have said earlier. If your earlier strategies have failed, why not try a new one. Moreover, with our openers they are more likely to be batting in 6th or 7th over so why not open the batting. Younis is currently out of form but he is one of our best test batsman and we need him in our test team. So for me Pakistan test team composition should be like this.

1. Younis Khan 2. Muhammad Yousuf 3. Kamran Akmal (Not as keeper but as one down batsman as we don’t have better batsman than him available in the current set up at No.3) 4. Omar Akmal (He has proved his worth and deserve this position) 5. Fawad Alam (He is better than both Misbah and Shoaib Malik, plus his debut hundred which is in the top ten innings of the year as declared by ICC should be given respect) 6. Azeem Ghumman, Naveed Yaseen, Hasan Raza, Aamer Sajjad , Babar Azam (All of these have performed so well in first class this year and should be given a go at this safe and easier batting position rather than throwing them as openers and destroying their careers. 7. Sarfaraz Ahmed (Keeper) , I would rather go for a better keeper batsman but I don’t think there is anyone who has proved his worth. 8. Shahid Afridi (As Captain and specialist bowler in place of talented but absent minded and confused Kaneria. I think Afridi can also take 5 wkts for 150 runs as Kaneria does plus he can also mesmerize the opposition by his late hitting. 9. Muhammad Aamir (Deserves his place) 10. Muhammad Asif (Deserves his place) 11. Umar Gull, Muhammad Sami, Muhammad Rameez (top first class performer this year), Rao iftikhar, Saeed Ajmal, (Can be any of them) I am sure that with this batting order, experience on top and depth down the order, not many teams would feel comfortable facing Pakistan. This is my opinion and suggestion and I feel that its gonna work for Pakistan.

Posted by taimur on (February 12, 2010, 0:04 GMT)

hey, kamran, I would like to know what you think about the US being the new host for Pakistan cricket? I dont think it's a good short-term solution and a good opportunity for cricket to become popular in the States. Esp. T20, when they see the best t20 players(i.e.,Pakistan) play and play excellent and entertaining cricket for 20 overs, they will fall in love w/ this game. But we need a long-term solution to get PAK cricket back to it's homeland. They cant keep playing home away from home. One day,they will return to their country.

Posted by Kamran Qureshi on (February 11, 2010, 19:55 GMT)

so what have we learned from Aus tour.Strictly speaking cricket our team looked atleast 3-4 notches weak in all the department of the game except bowling.Bowling becomes inefficient if not supported by fielding.First thing pak need to do is to hire a world class fielding coach from Aus or SA.Next the openers.Must groom and develop openers by revamping their domestic cricket system.Lastly zero tolerance in discipline with players as well with management.The talent is immense you will have a top team in 3-5 years.

Posted by Amanzeb Khan on (February 11, 2010, 9:57 GMT)

No matter who is the captain, first and foremost it should be ensured that all players are trying their best. Players who have deliberately performed poorly to undermine their captain, or been disruptive influences should be removed from the team. One such individual seems to be Shoaib Malik who created problems for both younis and yousuf. He and any other player who is creating disharmony in the team should be removed/cautioned. The worst you can do is make such a player the captain which would mean that he will have achieved what he set out to do at a very big cost.

Posted by Khair on (February 11, 2010, 7:24 GMT)

The mediocrity of Pak cricket is not only with the players, coaches and administrators. It goes far beyond that. We only have to see comments from ex-players, journalists, parliaments members, etc. There seems to be no dearth of opinions but sadly they all seem to revolve around which player should be in and who should be out, and who should or shouldn't be captain . I am just dumbfounded that 'reputed' cricket commentators can take such extreme and sometimes conflicting positions, for example, recommending that Afridi or Younus be made captain, or Yousuf be dropped from captaincy, or that Malik should be banished. It is not so much who they are talking about but the absurdity of the reasoning clearly points to bankruptcy in standards and values. Sadly dispassionate analysis and objectivity are seriously lacking and I don't see how Pak cricket can improve in this situation.

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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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