Australia 2009-10 February 5, 2010

No wins but finally some pride


Mohammad Yousuf's time as Pakistan captain must come to an end © Getty Images

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