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June 16, 2013

Betrayed by the batsmen

Kamran Abbasi
Pakistan's batsmen have lowered the standard  © ICC/Getty
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Pakistan's performance in international tournaments tends to defy prevailing circumstances. Not this time. The World Cup campaigns of 2003 and 2007 rank alongside this year's Champions Trophy as demoralising failures. The 2003 tournament in particular was followed by a cull of players that allowed Pakistan to rebuild and become competitive again. Something similar needs to happen now.

The imperative for Pakistan in one-day cricket is to build towards the next World Cup in 2015. The bowling is in good health. It is the batting that has required a surgeon's scalpel for over a year and now resembles a rotting corpse. The dead meat belongs to Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, and Kamran Akmal. Mohammad Hafeez has some life in him as a bowling allrounder in the lower middle order but his lifetime's endeavour to establish himself as a top-order batsman has come to nought.

Pakistan cricket is not blessed with alternatives. Its cricket infrastructure is so shattered that it struggles to compete with the professional standards that have been established in other major cricketing countries, systems that are required to develop international-class batsmen.

Yet there are options and these can no longer be overlooked. The players who need to be considered include Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail and Hammad Azam. Umar Akmal is a viable option as a batsman wicketkeeper. Mix this younger group with Misbah-ul-Haq, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq and Umar Amin from the current squad and Pakistan's batting order already looks stronger, with potential for the future.

The Champions Trophy is a tough tournament and success is by no means guaranteed. But the manner of Pakistan's exit from this series has made their supporters forlorn. The only fight on display at Edgbaston was the unfortunate skirmish or two between opposing fans in the stands. The pragmatic approach of Misbah's reign as captain has helped stabilise Pakistan cricket. Pragmatism does not have to be soulless, however. There was no soul, no spirit, and no fight in these batting displays except from the captain.

That hurts most of all. Pakistan is a troubled nation but it looks to its cricketers to raise a flag of honour on the international stage, to make a stand that reflects the determination and aspirations of its people. Pakistan's batsmen have lowered the standard.

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

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Posted by   on (June 18, 2013, 14:32 GMT)

Kamran is right except that I don't think Azhar Ali can succeed in ODIs. Batting has been letting us down, but it appears that PCB and team management have no clue what to do. There's need to create mental strength and desire to do well. Unfortunately, our players lose focus once they are in international arena. They're lost to glamour, money, & media blitz. They stop hard work which is so essential for top level sportspersons. Coaches have failed to instil all this. No doubt cricket is a team game, but individual effort is very much required.

Posted by Farooq78 on (June 17, 2013, 17:39 GMT)

I think, the biggest problem lies in the selection process, where in Pakistan, some players are selected on the basis of their "Connections" and not the "Abilities". Either we should play K.Akmal as an opener or should completely drop him. He is wasted at #6 or 7. Shoaib Malik and Farhat should be out of the team. I believe in injecting new blood to the team focuisng on 2015 WC, as India is now doing. My 15 player for any upcoming ODI Squad will be: 1. Ahmed Shehzad 2. Nasir Jamshed 3. Hafeez 4. Asad Shafiq 5. Misbah 6. Sarfaraz Ahmed 7. Hamad Azam 8. Afridi/Razzaq 9. Ajmal 10. Juanid 11. Irfan 12. Umar Akmal 13. Fawad Alam 14. Umar Gul 15. Azhar Ali.

We need a WK that can bat, and not the batsmen that can do WK. Akmals cant do any of 'em. Else Asad Shafiq can WK too.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

just one word for this.... Excellent....

Posted by applethief on (June 17, 2013, 12:30 GMT)

@Zia Hassan Are you seriously blaming the bowlers for the losses? Tell us, precisely which game they were given even a modest total to defend? They nearly managed to defend 170 against the West Indies, who were sweating right till the very end of their innings. They defeated a powerful batting side in South Africa in the warm-up, and kept them to a below-par total in the group game. It beggars belief that you seem to think our bowlers let us down in this tournament, Wahab, Junaid, Irfan, Ajmal and Hafeez bowled their hearts out, they deserve nothing but praise for their efforts with the ball. Only Nasir and Misbah didn't embarass themselves with the bat, everyone else has plenty to answer for

Posted by applethief on (June 17, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

Kamran's point about Hafeez cannot be said adamantly enough - it's time for the "Prof" to add some humility to his much-vaunted acumen and admit that the best thing he can for the team is to drop down the order and fulfil Shoaib Malik's place in the team.

I think most Pakistan fans would agree that we do not mind one bit when our team loses, as long as we feel like they played with spirit and fight. It's the abject folding that hurts the most, and we've seen far too much of it in this tournament and from this team. Our bowlers are far too good to be pitied so much, it's high time they got some support in the form of runs on the board, otherwise there's little good argument for not picking a side with 11 bowlers if they're the ones expected to win us every match we play.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (June 17, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

Mr. Abbasi, Before any other issue, the question arises that what has PCB done to arrange A-team tours to Australia, England and South Africa. How can you expect the new talent to experience playing on foriegn wickets?

Posted by srikanths on (June 17, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

Umar Akmal is one of the most talented batsmen. At one stage , when he started agaist New Zealand , looking at the way he played , strokes, one thought he could be the next big thing in world cricket. It may sound an exaggeration but I did think that he had the compactness and stroke production capabilities of a yound Sachin Tendulkar Somewhere down the line , he lost his appetite got involved along with his brother in controversies.

Shoaib Mallik though I feel has something in him to do okay but Kamran Akmal ,Pakistan Board is playing a joke on the cricket lovers of Pak In ODI trying Azhal Ali may also be good. He is a good bat in the conventional mode but has the talent to succeed in ODI also

Posted by Chaudry_Cricket on (June 17, 2013, 11:21 GMT)

I think people like imran farhat, kamran akmal, shoaib malik actually dont realise how much they hurt fans of pakistan cricket. On top of that the pcb is so incompetent it is unbelieveable. Make matters worse us fans continue to get heartbroken but no-one actually listens to us. As fans all we want to see is a team that is consistantley giving 100% when they enter the field because we know winning or losing is part of the game but to go down without giving 100% is heartbreaking.

Posted by Adeelo33 on (June 17, 2013, 7:44 GMT)

Pakistan lost all matches due to poor batting order and negative and defensive mind set of captian. . We have brilliant youngster still there. . We shall call Shahiad Afridi, umar akmal, Abdul Razzaq , Haris Sohail, Azhar mehmood and leave out farhat, kamran, Sohaib. My crickteam is 1. Ahmed Shahzad/ nasir jamshad 2. Muhammad Hafeez 3. Umar akmal (wkt) 4. Asid shafique/ babir azim 5. Haris sohail 6. Shahiad Afridi 7. Abudal razzaq / azhar mehmood 8. Wahab riaz/ asid ali 9. Juniad khan 10. Muha Irfan 11. Saeed ajmal/ raza hassan . . . Team may b changed as pitch changing raza with wahab in slow pitch. . Now we have 7 bowler. .

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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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