Pakistan in Bangladesh 2011 December 22, 2011

Pakistan emerge from swampy lowlands

Undefeated in a Test series in 2011, Pakistan are condemned for a slow, unadventurous version of cricket that renders any success hollow

Dissatisfied in defeat, no more content in victory, sports fans can be a miserable bunch. Shakib Al Hasan, a Bangladeshi no less, sits atop the world Test rankings for allrounders but fans and pundits call for his country to be demoted from the top tier of international cricket. Undefeated in a Test series in 2011, Pakistan are condemned for a slow, unadventurous version of cricket that renders any success hollow.

Pakistan's predicament is happier than Bangladesh's, discussing the manner of victory always is. But Pakistan were only a heartbeat away from the plight of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, even West Indies, the strugglers in the swampy lowlands of international cricket. Only a heartbeat away, that is, until an unfamiliar attritional methodology took hold. Pakistan cricket needed a way out of the quagmire, by any means necessary, and the players found it.

The rescue mission to help today's weaker cricket nations swim belongs to the ICC--and it must be a mission of support and inclusion, not hectoring and threats of expulsion. A deeper challenge faces international cricket, a challenge to become a truly global sport with many participating nations, instead of a cartel bossed over by the superficial agendas of the cricket world's most powerful nations.

Power in cricket resides with the cricket boards that control the game's revenues, then by those that control the media, and finally by those that boast the best teams. Possess all three and you rule the world. Under these circumstances Pakistan's only route to influence lies in the ability of its players. If by 2030 Pakistan's population reaches a projected 300 million and they live in peace--a distant dream, perhaps--will the dynamics of power change?

For now, results are the only way to be taken seriously. On that count Misbah-ul-Haq's team have over-delivered. Does it matter how they have done it? To my mind, it matters little. Pakistan cricket was a shipwreck waiting for a Viking burial. There was only one way to go and that was down to the depths of obscurity with the wailing of legends for a death song.

Critics will argue that West Indies, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh don't pose much threat. Sri Lanka are a spent force without Muttiah Muralitharan. But even such straightforward adversaries have confounded Pakistan's best players for a decade or more. On the other hand, New Zealand are troubling Australia and South Africa are challenging for top spot; Pakistan have matched both in the last 15 months.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. These are early steps on the road to recovery. Pakistan have played to their strengths (their bowling attack) and within their limitations (the pace of their batting). Simply put, Pakistan have wicket-taking bowlers and defensive batsmen, a formula that has succeeded thus far. Asking this batting line-up to score at four an over would be suicidal. The answer is to integrate more adventurous blades, an opportunity missed with Umar Akmal's exclusion for the Bangladesh series.

Long-term success in any top-level sport begins first with learning how not to lose. Pakistan's great team of the 1980s boasted Mudassar Nazar as its opening batsman, the scorer of the slowest century in Test cricket. The next step is learning how to win from different positions. The final milestone is domination. Team Misbah are finishing stage one, and the England series will be a proper examination of their progress.

This attritional fare might feel alien to us, but it sure beats perpetual humiliation.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanedlive on January 15, 2012, 18:00 GMT

    Agree mostly with kamran j, but I think Misbah might be able to put the age behind him like Tendulkar.

    M Hafeez Azhar Ali M Yousuf[A very strong and sound batsman in all condition should not be lost to Pak politocs] Younus[Captain]/Misbah if still fit[Captain] Umar Akmal/? Asad shafiq Junaid Umar Gul Riaz/? Afridi With Amir World cup will be won with Yousuf who can give some run to defend]/Yasir Shah[Three Spinner option]

  • fanedlive on January 6, 2012, 19:03 GMT

    Agreed - the credit goes to Misbah. He is the best! Yes - he is 'risk free' (no aggression which people need to be understand) but it is for the right reason. He is fair and his plan is to take team to top 3 and I can see he is getting there. We just need to fully support him and make sure to support him regardless of results in the upcoming Eng vs. Pak series! Thank you!

  • fanedlive on January 5, 2012, 19:25 GMT

    Imran, at present team is about to face no. 1 test cricket. Recent series against Zimbabye, Srilanka and Bangladesh have changed team's approach to play and execute in a test match. THe outcome is impressive also. This change plan has come from coaching and captain where players are executing it. Not a bad job altogether, and team is in good standing to face England.

    As far as Next woridcup eleven how about this M Hafeez (cap. and allrounder) ? Azhar Ali Yonius (may be) Umar Akmal Asad Shafiq Shahid Afridi (all rounder) M Riaz (all rounder) Saeed Ajmal Junaid Asad Cheema/Umar Gul/M Amir

  • fanedlive on January 3, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    wasn't it a golden opportunity for Pak to try new blood against the weak Bangladeshi team like Anwar Ali, Raza Hasan, Rameez Raja jr, Awais Zia, Sharjeel khan, M.Talha, Sadaf......instead of Imran Farhat, Yunis Khan, M Hafeez, Umar Gul, Syed Ajmal and see how talented they are.....?? so any of them showing promise could have have been inducted into this aging Pak unit......who can you see among the current players playing for Pak in the next world cup...?? Any answers please......

  • fanedlive on December 31, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    Hi guys you have to wait before you make a final word Because pakistan a one team can give game to any team in world So wait and see I hope pak get bowlers like of amir and saif. If we had amir and saif in this team we will sit #1 but be Pakistani happy new year to pakistan and to all you thank you support your watan pakistan zind bad

  • fanedlive on December 31, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    The only thing which distiguishes Eng from SA, is that they are not fearful of defeats.When SA think of a defeat,they choke. While Eng has some of the worst performances against all test playing nations. Eng during its early days ENG was a force but not now. But still don,t take them lightly. Pak has to perform better than what they did against SA in UAE, keeping the present form of the brits. But one thing is for sure that despite winning the Ashes they are no match to AUS even if they are down & out in the present cricket scenario.

  • fanedlive on December 28, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    This is the better squad against M.Hafeez, I.Farhath/Y.Hameed, Azhar Ali, Y, Khan, M.Haq(C), A.Shafiq, U.Akmal(WK), U.Gul, W.Riaz, M.Thalha/A.Rehman and S.Ajmal! Abdur Rahman from Sri Lanka!

    Thank you!

  • fanedlive on December 27, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    Spot on! Finally, you got it! :) It's a good time for predictions. Mine are the following. (1) Umar Gul will be sidelined as Test bowler as a result or during this series. (2) England will create an "Imran Khan" in Pakistani squad just like Australia did in 1976(?) owing to their bowlers' extra ordinary dismissive attitude of team Pakistan. (3) Misbah will shine yet again. And this is not a prediction - Swann will turn against Test Cricket.

  • fanedlive on December 27, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    The England series will be an examination of what we have achieved during this year Misbah has brought confidence into the team.

  • fanedlive on December 26, 2011, 20:29 GMT

    If Misbah is really smart he will push for inclusion of [please fill out the blank] the great batsman in Pakistan history thus make Pakistan unbeatable.After all the humiliation if any batsman or bowler who has some smell of match fixing should be out.Well Shoib M and Kamran Akmal are gone from Pakistan make sense.Umar Akmal should be strictly controlled other wise a second Amir case will pop up soon.Junaid has a good future so is Umar A if he is under control.

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