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June 20, 2012

Pakistan cricket

Why Afridi is right to call for new blood

Kamran Abbasi
Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan controlled Pakistan's innings superbly in the middle overs, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, World Cup, Group A, Colombo, February 26, 2011
Pakistan's ODI team needs a new generation of cricketers  © AFP
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We have been here before, I hear you say; Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's maverick hero, pondering another retirement, this time from the 50-overs version of international cricket. Afridi's desire for retirement changes with the seasons. People will question his motives. A booming fashion among star cricketers for T20 cricket tends to attract scepticism from fans rather than sympathy. We'd all prefer to be paid more to do less.

But let's strip away our cynicism for a moment and take Afridi's argument at face value: it's time, says the man who is always in a hurry, to make way for new blood and ready Pakistan for a challenge at the next 50-overs World Cup in 2015. It's an argument, whatever Afridi's true motivation, that I believe is compelling.

Pakistan cricket has a new board chairman. A new coaching team has taken charge too. Yet, this month's defeat to Sri Lanka in the ODI series had a stale aroma. No new players entered the fray. Old hands plied their familiar wares, and any old warriors that were recalled were pretty much as we remembered them. Pakistan cricket has rarely planned beyond the next series but success in modern cricket requires greater foresight.

Perhaps it is a delusion, but the conveyor belt of talent that Pakistan was once famous for introducing to the world has become a recycling cart. Instead, the world looks to England, Australia, and even India, to surprise with unfamiliar names and unsung talents. Even the thrill makers in Pakistan cricket are purveyors of established thrills, take Afridi for example.

Pakistan cricket has become a place of rare experiment. Admittedly, experiment isn't always appropriate. A formidable Test team builds at a gradual pace, a tweak here and a shuffle there, experience as vital as ability. The impending World T20 offers little scope for unearthing new stars; Pakistan have a formula and need to finesse it. It is 50-overs cricket that now offers the greatest opportunity for trial and error.

Fifty-overs cricket has become the problem child of the international game, less than the thorough examination of a Test match and the instant fix of a T20 bash. Players want Test cricket to further their status in the game; they crave T20 cricket to firm up their pension fund. Fifty-overs cricket falls between priorities, a game uncertain of purpose or mandate. In the race for survival among formats, 50-overs cricket looks the most vulnerable.

That's argument enough to use 50-overs cricket as an entry route to the international game, a gateway to cricket's longest or shortest forms, or both depending on a player's performance. For Pakistan cricket, this approach is even more compelling one. With three years to go before the next World Cup, the cricket board and selectors need to ask themselves how many of the current bunch can be expected to make a genuine impact in that tournament? Afridi, Misbah, Younis Khan and other senior players are players of the past not the future in 50-overs cricket.

And this is where Afridi's contemplation hits the right note. Pakistan can only hope to compete at the next World Cup with a team of new stars. Warriors, old and recycled, need to make way immediately for a new generation of Pakistan cricketers; players who can mount a serious challenge for the next world title and make a case for inclusion in the Test and T20 sides.

Afridi is right to question his usefulness to the 50-overs effort, as well as the strategy for the 2015 World Cup. His senior colleagues should follow suit. Cricket teams, like empires, run their course and decay. Pakistan cricket needs fresh blood and a fresh direction in ODI cricket. The PCB should identify its potential team for the next World Cup, appoint a new captain, and let Dav Whatmore do the rest. The moment, like Afridi, calls for young blood and new solutions.

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

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Retirements

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by vivek pandey on (December 7, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

ohhhh plz, don't say that U R gng to retire mr. AFRIDI. what U need to do is just have look at ur own records; no matter whether its bowling or batting. U were a KING; U are a KING; and U will be a KING of all times

Posted by jazim hussain on (October 2, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

it is right to inject fresh blood in the team so they can make themselves to the international level before the mega event which is to be held in aus-new zealand. pakistan have lot of talent but the same need to be groomed for international level so they can compete with others and give tough time to the opposition.

Posted by fahim Aziz on (August 23, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

We all talk about the exubrance of youth. However, kindly condider that the next world cup is in Australia, and no matter what potential youth brings to the table, particularly from the subcontinent, in most caesx it's never enough to make a positively significant difference on the bouncy tracks of Australia. Experience is key, let's be honest about it.Do we have enough tours to Australia prior to the 2015 world cup to blood the youngsters and give them experience.

Consider this selectors.

Posted by raja on (August 11, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

AFRIDI IS OPENER HE SHUD NOT BAT AT NO 6

Posted by ibrar shah on (August 4, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

Afridi needs to stop threatning retirment on pak cricket and start beliving in himself " he is a good bowler in both forms and is needed in bowling attack" all he needs is special coaching with his batting and will be back in form? and we all know when its fri day he can take the game away from oposition.Captaincy comes and goes?

Posted by farzoq ali on (July 26, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

afridi is right because the seniour in our team are use less how many chancese we give him to prove themselves if these chancese were given to the new up coming players they learn alot more then our seniour players.....afridi is the pride of our pakistani cricket team he is man of honour and a true pakistani cricketer.....shahid bhai you should play the wc-2015.....

Posted by mohamed on (July 25, 2012, 5:15 GMT)

Shahid Afridi should be there in the T20 as well as in ODI's as captain. he is the only calm player who can lead well it proved in 2011 worldcup...! all players in the team listens to what he say and he knows how to handle them in calm way and as a captain he plays very coooool....1

Posted by Farrukh on (July 23, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

I think the statement of Shahid about retirement is more of hopelessness anda result of the attitude of PCB towards him, being the most experienced, he is not given the place he deserves, neither the captaincy!

Posted by shahidkhan on (July 23, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

Boom Boom Afridi is the best coise to lead pakistan world cup t20 2012

Posted by Fahd on (July 23, 2012, 2:53 GMT)

The best examples of modern days cricketer are Virat Kohli , Raina ,AB Devilliers etc ,who can adjust them self in all format of the game by just changing the Batting technique/SR ,Pakistani Batsmen should learn this art also.Only this can put our Team on winning tracks.Those who are not capable to do so ,should quit them self from the team.and as for as Bowlers are concerned ,their Economy rate/SR should always be monitored .My final conclusion is that Pakistan team is always consist of big names (out of Form) ,actually it should be consist of Any Players who are in Form.The biggest example is the Australian Team ,they even dont hazitate to drop their Captain if he is out of form.

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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 international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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