2010: Summer of Pakistan July 5, 2010

Pakistan's biggest summer


Shahid Afridi's men will look to gather momentum ahead of the Tests © AFP

Could this be the biggest summer in Pakistan's cricket history? Some of the hype from that other tournament in South Africa might have disturbed my logic but it's an argument that's beginning to convince. Following the humdrum of another Asia Cup and a further revival of the Pakistan-Australia T20 franchise it's easy to lose sight of the deeper meaning of a sport that for Pakistanis is often akin to life, the universe, and everything.

Indeed, BBC Radio 4's Today Programme spoke with Ramiz Raja this morning, a sure sign that something really important is taking place. Ramiz didn't disappoint. Cricket, he said, is often the only reason that a country divided by religion, politics, and ethnicity hangs together.

Now Pakistan must hang together in England, home of large numbers of expatriate Pakistanis but also a former Imperial master. In truth, Imperialism is becoming a distant memory replaced by more recent and equally divisive religious confrontations. Where cricket was once Pakistan's attempt to lance the Imperialist boil, the ECB's hand of friendship in hosting this tour has helped further recast the rationale for the Pakistan-England rivalry.

By choosing Australia as their first opponent on English home territory, Pakistan have also given a reason for English and Pakistani fans to unite over the next few weeks. And it is the fans who will be the main arbiters of the success of this neutral venue. Pakistan's enforced home exile means these neutral venues are a lifeline, and most cricket fans would surely prefer the green fields of England over the dustbowls of the Middle East.

Spectators and television viewers will determine revenues and the commercial success of Pakistan's new home. But the enthusiasm of fans is related to the quality of cricket on offer. In this regard, Pakistan cricket has had an unfortunate year since winning last year's World T20. The circumstances are well documented but the simple truth is that Pakistan have been hammered by Australia all around the globe.

For commercial success as much for the pride of fans, Pakistan must be competitive over this summer. Australia had a stuttering start to their own tour but have begun to rediscover their power play. A good start to this summer is essential because, as the winter Down Under proved, this Pakistan squad can fall apart over the course of a long tour.

Hence, while at face value we approach another routine T20 series, it is yet another significant contest for Pakistan. Shahid Afridi's team will want to build some momentum before next week's Test series opener at Lord's, which in turn will be expected to ready Pakistan for the subsequent away clash against England.

Pakistan fans have reasons for optimism, in T20 cricket at least. It has become Pakistan's strongest format, reflected by the squad selected. The two to watch are Shahzaib Hasan, a World Cup winner who was inexplicably discarded but has won his place back, and Shoaib Akhtar, making another comeback against all expectations.

Shahzaib is a fierce striker and compulsive shot-maker, whose run of form will be tested by Australia. Shoaib, as ever, has something to prove, not least that he can work with Afridi. Yet a four-over burst has always been Shoaib's optimal distance, and he adds a further dimension to a Pakistan attack that probably has the edge over Australia's in T20 cricket.

It is in T20 cricket that Pakistan have pushed Australia closest over the last year, although any true Pakistan fan will have blanked from memory the horror of the most recent encounter. Whenever Pakistan have sensed victory Australia's iron will has crushed their ambition. Pakistan cricketers and Pakistan cricket need to break free--and this is the tour that will liberate or incarcerate.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on August 7, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    Salam, Well, Currently it seems England VS LAHORE not Pakistan, All players are unsuitable for test cricket accept some bowlers, Salman Butt is not capable for Test Team and also Immature captain. He knows how to keep bat, but does not know how to play...... Sorry. I Think Cricket Board should send some mature & capable players rather then these type of players, for playing in country like ENGLAND.....

  • testli5504537 on July 21, 2010, 19:22 GMT

    Pakistan Team Analysis: Salman Butt - Lahore, Punjab Imran Farhat - Lahore, Punjab Azhar Ali - Lahore, Punjab Umar Amin - Rawalpindi, Punjab Umar Akmal - Lahore, Punjab Shoaib Malik - Sialkot, Punjab Kamran Akmal† - Lahore, Punjab Mohammad Aamer - Gujjar Khan, Punjab Umar Gul - Peshawar, Khyber PK Danish Kaneria - Karachi, Sind Mohammad Asif - Sheikhupura, Punjab

    9 players - almost 82% from Punjab, and what about Ejaz BUTT, Waqar Younus, Ijaz Ahmed?? all from Punjab.... Are they representing Pakistan??? now we know why Saeed Anwer was left out and Inzemam was selected as captain after 99 world cup debacle, why Rashid Latif was left no where and why Younus Khan is treated how he's treated. Facts speak louder than lame excuses man!!!

    God Bless Pakistan. May all affairs be undertaken on merit and democratically rather than on personal favourism or 'Grayeen Geeri'

  • testli5504537 on July 20, 2010, 18:06 GMT

    it would take a while for pakistan to prove their mettle in test cricket while they are so busy playing t20.pakistan needs players who can stay for longer periods and while talking about staying on crease the name of yunus khan comes to mind, he should be recalled and also yousaf and another name worth mentioning is that of asim kamal,god knows he was a great test player

  • testli5504537 on July 7, 2010, 21:35 GMT

    Finally Guys.. After a Long While.... We outclass the Aussies in T20s. This bring a lot of cheer for all the PAKISTANiS. Its the time to prove ourselves the Best in Test matches as well... Good Luck Green Shirts ...!!!

  • testli5504537 on July 7, 2010, 14:47 GMT

    @Arfan Yes I know Afridi and I am the person who is supporting the team in any conditions but we all should accept this is a fact that the whole team is based on bad intentions. You are telling me about Afridi today he has been in the team from the last 14 years and why he become such an energetic now after 14 years my dear. It is just the matter of his own survival he knows that if the team collapse in this summer the people of this country will not allow him and his friend Malik and Ijaz Butt to be in the squad any more. Atleast we have now free judiciary. I am loving my country more than me and expect all the Pakistanis especially the ones which has got a lot from this country to think for Pakistan not for oneself.

  • testli5504537 on July 7, 2010, 2:15 GMT

    The T20's are out of the way & Pak did well to get past the Aussies winning the series 2-0. Now the team needs to prepare for the test series. The 5-day format demands technique & discipline. Waqar has a tall task ahead. To beat the Aussies his batsmen must play long innings, rotate strike and be prepared to spend longer time on the crease. Partnerships will be key to build up decent scores, for the bowlers to defend, supported by good fielding. The test team lacks experienced batsmen like Moyo & Younis who in the past played well in the English conditions. Now it is time for for Afridi & Malik to play mature innings & give the much needed confidence to the younger team mates to play sensibly. Shahzaib failed in both T20's. For Pakistan to have a respectable start to their innings S.Butt should have a reliable partner. Pakistan has no depth in their batting. There are no replacements for Inzy, Moyo & Younis. The outcome of the tests will depend on Akmal brothers & Malik.

  • testli5504537 on July 6, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    @Zimmerman: Are you sure they were "clearly" not out. Warner was out to naked eye as per at least one of the commentators I was listening to. Obviously you were listening to Tony Greg or such on Channel 9; or you may need hearing aid. Johnson was unlucky to get out as was Shoaib Malik yesterday (that was given out by a 3rd umpire! and pakistani too!!). Say hi to your buddys - Howard, Hair and Speed for me. Well done Pakistan team for beating a good team who also played well but weren't as lucky as in St lucia.

  • testli5504537 on July 6, 2010, 21:51 GMT

    Herr Zimmerman, perhaps you care to take note of the less than fair umpiring of said fair dinkum blokes - Bob Woolmer noted 12 clear decisions in one short test series clearly in favour of the Aussies- I am afraid you are not so gracious winners and even sorer losers!!!!

  • testli5504537 on July 6, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    @ gulab. do you know afridi, or malik or ijaz butt. Perhaps with all bieng said in the media about malik, your veiws are right to some extent, and everyone knows ijazz butt is only in it for the money. But shahid afridi? hes in my opinion a complete team player, the guy was running up and down the whole ground jus to encourage bowlers almost every ball in both t20s. Hes energetic and brings a vibe to the team so ur comments on afridi particulary are unjust and its veiws of such why pakistan are in such a state.

  • testli5504537 on July 6, 2010, 21:38 GMT

    Pakistan win the twenty20 series 2-0. Pakistan's "biggest" summer is off to a an unexpected great start with a twenty20 whitewash against the mighty Ozies. Allah karay, pakistan test bi jeetay ga, inshallah! peace

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