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July 15, 2010

2010: Summer of Pakistan

Lessons from Lord's

Kamran Abbasi
Salman Butt needs a better opening partner  © AFP
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Pakistan's batting fortunes have changed with the Lord's weather. Facing a world record fourth-innings target, Pakistan have begun to restore some credibility if not hope. At the outset Pakistan's coach Waqar Younis argued this tour was a learning experience for him and his charges.

Lots of good has come out of this Test. The overall bowling effort, two new batsmen have debuted, and Salman Butt and Umar Gul have begun to reassert themselves in Test cricket. But lessons are usually focused on areas for improvement and here are some lessons Waqar might want to consider:

1. Play your best batsman at No.3. Umar Akmal has continued a peculiarly Pakistani tradition of the best batsman in the team shying away from the top spot in the batting order. Senior status comes with a cushion that helps you warm the bench while more junior colleagues suffer. The most alarming statistic of this contest is that it is the first time since Pakistan's inaugural match that the batsmen at Nos 3 and 4 have been making a debut. Umar should have grasped the mantle in the manner that he charges out to the crease.

2. Find a better opening partner for Salman Butt. For some inexplicable reason Imran Farhat has become Pakistan's Test opener of choice. The justification for his continued selection is minimal. Farhat has always looked like a batsman who might succeed in Pakistan but will require a healthy dose of luck outside, as he received in New Zealand. Why bring Yasir Hameed on tour and not play him? Even the malign, and the maligned, Shoaib Malik might be a better use of available resources.

3, Find a balance between defence and attack. In Pakistan's first innings they understandably began in super cautious mode. But what they ended up doing was simply hanging around until they got out. When Shahid Afridi entered the arena he was in blitz mode, and began an exhilarating but brief assault. There is a balance that needs to be struck and Waqar must help find it because his captain has only one mode.

4, Keep up the pressure in the field. On two occasions in this match Pakistan helped Australia into a strong position. The first innings partnership between Simon Katich and Michael Clarke was followed by the even more unsatisfactory attempt to dislodge Tim Paine and Ben Hilfenhaus. On both occasions Pakistan lacked focus, energy, and a plan B. They allowed the game to drift, easy singles easy runs. Those partnerships will make the difference between victory and defeat.

5. Is it possible to play Afridi and four bowlers? The tail becomes too long. Should Afridi always be the fourth bowler?

Meanwhile, Pakistan fans will hope and pray for a miracle on Friday. A lesser but still valuable reward would be a century or two to help the batsmen gather some confidence and momentum.

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Posted by amir on (August 25, 2010, 7:16 GMT)

pakistan should definitely go in the last test wid four bowlers and a change in batting is required, i strongly believe imran farhat should be out of squad now, he has been given enough chance, umar akmal can also be given rest , his performence in last two tests is horrorably poor, and i request to pakistan cricket board , selection committee and tour management committee is dat plz get rid of kamran akmal, he is really source of irritation now for fans of cricket, cant we find his replacement in a cricket loving rather cricket crazy nation like pakistan where child likes to play to cricket, i know oneday we have to kick him out because if we keep him in the side, we will keep on loosing matches as he will keep on dropping catches and our bowlers will keep on suffering

Posted by Umair Rizvi on (July 23, 2010, 20:02 GMT)

I agree with usman sheikh ,that we should get rid of our fatty Ijaz Butt because all he has done is embarrassed Pakistan at every level. He has made many decisions in haste. Secondly if it was Fawad Alam instead of Imran Farhat in the first test he would have been sent home and never considered for the team ever again!!! It is with the grace of Imran's sugar daddy that he is still in the team and is improving with time. My prayers are with the whole team but i hope the most talented players regain their spot again. Salman Butt was also dropped on many occassions, but whenever he came back he scored. Kaneria needs to change up his action and flight of delivery( its too straight up like a medium pacer, no time for turn) lastly our bowlers need to scare the batsmen with some ugly bouncers and fast short pitches every now and then.

Posted by medrar on (July 21, 2010, 8:20 GMT)

Imran Khan calls those half batsman half ballers as "RAILU KATTA". You put pressure on their balling and balling fails, put pressure on their batting and the batting fails. I wonder how long we will do these drama,s by playing RAILU KATTA's like shoaib malik and afridi.

Posted by waterbuffalo on (July 19, 2010, 8:58 GMT)

If I was a betting man, I'd say Yousuf and Younis will be back for the 1st Test against England. As for Afridi, he had 6 Tests and he quit after one, he can challenge Younis for cry-baby of the year. The lack of will and patriotism is astonishing. At least Yousuf had the guts to carry on until the very end. Now that is what I call a Test player.

Posted by Purushotham on (July 19, 2010, 4:50 GMT)

AB KYA KAMRAN SAHEB?! WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNT?!!! ---- FROM AND AFTER LORD'S?

Posted by ASIAN on (July 19, 2010, 1:45 GMT)

Where is MY/YOUR/OUR AFRIDI who is very courageous, never-say-die-attitue, exicting, where is he. Why he took such as nasty decision? And Why. Its really hurting us, why he is not taking it back even after Imran Khan spoke to him, a lengend knows the other legend reckoning/living.

I hope he will surprise us again by making himself available in the very near future, without him Cricket really dies esp. the Test cricket though he is playing after 4 years. However PCB took a smart move after a long time to put Butt in place, only left is two other legends to come back, Yonis and Yousuf with Akthar is already on the side. A true ASIAN.

Posted by aftab on (July 18, 2010, 23:57 GMT)

To the Patron of PCB: If you don't want Afghanistan beating Pakistan, send Rashid Latif to head PCB. But then, who knows your loyalties!

Posted by Muhammad Saidul Haque on (July 18, 2010, 16:40 GMT)

Assalamulaikum Kamran Vhai,in the present disaster times of Pak Cricket-firstly the players must have acquired true fair faithful Patriotism,deeper integrity,stronger stamina,longest patience to stay on the crease,honest & reliable attitude+approach with expression for the team to acting captain,true ability to select the appropriate effective bowlers in the crucial right times & finally for the Pak selectors should have become educated person to select the matured experienced players in test cricket.Well,Azhar Ali & Umar Amin are not suitable choices to be examined & analyzed to play in test. Danish Kaneria is only effective for real spin track otherwise;he is totally waste of perfect selection.In replaced over Danish,Saied Azmal is true handler almost in any situation, environment wherever Pakistan uses to play.So,Pak selectors should be matured to include Yasir Arafat,Shoaib Malik ,Saied Azmal,Abdur Razzaq to be replaced over Imran,Azhar, Danish & Umar Amin for last test.

Posted by ahsan on (July 18, 2010, 1:53 GMT)

I THINK DANISH KANERIA WILL BE OPENER

Posted by aftab on (July 17, 2010, 22:40 GMT)

I like your faith in Afridi. You should know that his talent is natural. Leadership needs the ability to learn and analyze that he has shown lacking. The sixth lesson is not to put all your eggs in one basket called Afridi.

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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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