August 18, 2014

Pakistan cricket

A welcome, but overdue landmark

Younis Khan took his 100th catch in Test cricket during the SSC Test against Sri Lanka. Writing in the National, Osman Samiuddin wonders how it took so long for a Pakistan cricketer to reach the landmark, considering Younis was the 32nd player overall to get there.

There are 11 Australians in that list, eight Englishmen, four each from the West Indies and India, two South Africans and one each from Sri Lanka and New Zealand. It is a list in which every major Test-playing country has long had a representative. That Pakistan has only now produced a representative is mostly an indictment of the casualness with which it has treated fielding institutionally.

A long time ago, it was easy to use the generally grassless, bumpy grounds a lot of the country's players grew up on as a valid excuse. Fielding was an accident waiting to happen. Even now, with so many players starting cricket on the streets, the excuse holds true to some degree.

But once a player has been identified as a prospect, at the national or domestic level, this becomes less and less valid. There are decent, well-nurtured grounds available in most major cities. Not having specialist coaches at lower levels is a problem, but the most important thing about fielding is that the desire has to come from within. The best fielders are generally those who love it.

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