July 16, 2010

Mike Holmans

It's back to the drawing board for Pakistan

Mike Holmans

Shahid Afridi has had enough of Test cricket © Getty Images

I am sorry that Shahid Afridi will not be appearing in the Test series against England which starts next month. He is one of those players who lights up a cricket field and guarantees that a match will not be dull, at least when he is taking an active part. He himself had not really wanted to come back to Test cricket, but he was prepared to give it a go when pleaded with by the folks back home. Having given it a go, he has shown that his original view was right.

I was sceptical of the view that he only knows one way to bat, but he has proved it correct. That it's a way which has its place in Test cricket there is no doubt, as my defence of his second-afternoon assault attempted to show, but there are plenty of times when it is highly inappropriate, such as on the fourth afternoon. The situation when he came to the crease for the second time was again not at all good for Pakistan, but after he had holed out it was considerably worse, which had not been the case on Wednesday.

I did not think Wednesday's innings was stupid, reckless or irresponsible in the circumstances, but Friday's was utterly gormless.

It won't stop me being a fan, though, especially as he has taught me the true meaning of “larger-than-life”. I happened to be walking through the Long Room when he went out to bat on Wednesday. As we passed, I murmured “good luck” to him, then while I carried on to my seat, it struck me that he was a couple of inches shorter and rather slenderer, particularly in the arms, than I had thought he was. Perhaps he inflates as he crosses the boundary rope, but he does look bigger out there (to me, anyway) than he is in real life.

Since Afridi had only been brought back because the Test team needed a captain, his departure means someone else will have to don the fireproof suit and learn to swim through the oceans of ordure which are the sorry lot of any Pakistan skipper. The rumours suggest it will be Salman Butt, though the fact that he is currently the vice-captain means it will probably be someone else. Nothing is ever as it seems where the PCB is involved.

I have no idea whether he would make a good captain, but Butt was the only Pakistani batsman to emerge from the Test with real credit. He kept his cool in the first innings while the wickets cascaded at the other end. In the second innings he set about the task of building the kind of platform from which a victory push could be made with considerable skill. He really ought to have had a ton, but he made a rare mistake when within sight of it. The idea of his shot was sound but he messed up the execution, which is a pity, but not worthy of criticism. It was not a failure of temperament, since he has amply demonstrated his credentials as a Test match opener in challenging situations.

The rest were awful in the first innings but mostly adequate the second time round – though nothing more than adequate.

What did for Pakistan was being the team who were batting when conditions were at their worst. The way the Pakistani pacemen bowled, Australia would have been all out for under 100 if they had been in on Wednesday. After that calamitous session it was always going to be incredibly difficult to get back into the game but they did not give up until Umar Akmal had his Ian Bell moment, lazily gifting his wicket to the nondescript spinner on the stroke of lunch.

The limp subsidence to defeat after lunch was a depressing anti-climax after what had been a fascinating and highly enjoyable Test. If this is what we are going to get from neutral Tests at Lord's, I for one, want more.

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Posted by London brunette on (July 28, 2010, 6:22 GMT)

It was rather interesting for me to read that post. Thanks the author for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

Bella Smith

Posted by shamas on (July 20, 2010, 6:59 GMT)

I really don't understand why we are forcing Muhammad Yousaf and Younis to come back and built up a new team in this situation. We all know they are out for missing behaviour with team mates. Both are in the team along with Shoaib Malik & Misbah when pakistan lost complete tour earliar this year in Australia. Is it any surity that Pakistan must win with them. They must change their behavior and then give their greatness to pakistan team. If they put back in this situation they will continue their bad behavior in dressing room and jouniors may also involve in this as we see Umar Akmal in past. We must understand pakistan must grow with young guns very soon but if we take both great batsman back with their current behaviors then their is no chance of improvements and history will repeat itself soon again.

Posted by Farrukh Liaqat on (July 20, 2010, 5:51 GMT)

Good Job Afridi, I am proud of you. This man has shown spirit unlike many other players who would sit under the captaincy hat and wait till they are kicked out. He felt straight away that his temprament is not of 5 days format of the game so decided not only to give up captaincy but also his pull out from test cricket.

One thing is very much clear, Shahid afridi plays for his country, not for the money or himself.

Now we all want him to lift the limited over game World Cup. Inshallah he can do it provided that PCB also plays it serious role and make a team without any politcal influence.

Posted by wasim raja on (July 19, 2010, 21:08 GMT)

i think we should keep thet same team and give yasir hameed chance on afridi who dosent deserve place in longer formate,and i think yousaf and younas were great players but they no gona do miricale we should stick with azher ali and amin they will be pak future plz plz n two y

Posted by Gohar on (July 19, 2010, 6:50 GMT)

I was really disappointed by the decision of Afridi, as he was a natural Fighter. Now, i announce retirement from Watching Test Cricket.

Posted by Abrk on (July 19, 2010, 0:44 GMT)

at "Narayan G" : get a out of typical indian jealousy with Pakistan Crickters and Read history about Pakistan and India Cricket, it will show who is Lion and who is Pussy Cat. Pakistan is leading the rivalry in Tests and Odi's. Hats off for Afridi.

Posted by Mehwish Khan on (July 18, 2010, 16:17 GMT)

Brilliant piece, Holmans. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, keep writing for Pakistani Cricketers. I persoanlly think it's a great move by Afridi to retire. Hope the new appointed captain- Butt proves to be a good choice.

Posted by umair on (July 18, 2010, 13:28 GMT)

hey friends this is good time for afridi i know he is good captian and good leader but u know in pcb no body like afridi as a captian but if afridi is not captian in odi and t20 i say pakistan not won the world cup he can out 1st round if afridi is not captian he have some qulati same imran khan that why he is brave captian i like his captince in asia cup but i dont know pcb what is doing what pbc think waht is the future of pakistan cricket plz any one come in front and take this pressure in our had that is good for pakistan cricket......

Posted by Aslam on (July 18, 2010, 13:12 GMT)

Both Azhar Ali and Umar Amin should remain in the side. The former should move up to open with Salman Butt. If Younis is drafted into the side (will require a statesmanlike decision from Ijaz Butt, which is not his forte)for the Headingly match then he will be at number 3 position. Followed by Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and then the four bowlers. Kamran is not a number six batsman. Both brothers need to show a lot of maturity though.

For the next series against England if Mohammad Yousuf comes back then he should replace Shoaib Malik though not necessarily in the same batting position.

Posted by Anonymous on (July 18, 2010, 12:48 GMT)

comments from fans are awlful! why we keep loosing is because we keeping recalling players like yousuf and younase who are past their sell by date! younase started the trend of players retiring from the game and then being recalled weeks later, both have abused the privelidge of playing for their country, younis has resigned from the captaincy halve way through a tour, at the start of a tour, yousuf joined the ICL becuase he wasnt picked for T20, if we keep recalling them we do only damage to pakistan cricket. Younase hasnt been scoring in county this year, stop assessing them on their past performances. Cricketeres, averages, etc are all made over time, we need to show faith in these youngesters, Inzamam didnt score many runs in his first 10 test matches. As for Malik honestly if anyone supports malik they serious need help, the guy is a goon! how can you marry someone online, and have him repersent pakistan..he is mentally retarted,and awlful player

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