The former England captain's take on the fortnight in cricket

'Hard to feel sorry for Pakistan cricket'

India v Sri Lanka, 20 years of Tendulkar, Pakistan's sagas, and more (09:36)

November 16, 2009

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The Tony Greig Show

'Hard to feel sorry for Pakistan cricket'

November 16, 2009

"Younis' taking a break is a victory for player power in Pakistan" © AFP

Turmoil in Pakistan cricket Pakistan captain Younis Khan has asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for a rest, following reports that some of his senior players have been unhappy with his leadership. While Younis has described his break as temporary, it definitely signalled a victory for player power over a sometimes reluctant captain.

It is also yet another indication that there are at least two camps in Pakistan cricket, intent on continuing to snipe at the heels of whichever group is in power. Apparently Younis met with his chairman, Ijaz Butt, and told him he had lost the full support of his team and therefore had no option but to stand down. This latest saga follows his recent resignation following vague and seemingly mischievous match-fixing allegations, after which Younis was assured of the captaincy until the 2011 World Cup.

It's a little hard to feel sorry for Pakistan cricket when on such a consistent basis the players and administrators, young and old, spend so much time undermining each other. The only good reason to get rid of a captain is if there is someone in the team good enough to do the job better, and right now I don't think there is. Mohammad Yousuf has been given the task of leading the team to New Zealand, but like Younis he has his detractors and there is certainly no guarantee he will hang onto the job.

Pakistan is desperate for an Imran Khan kind of leader, who commands the respect of everyone. They need someone who can harness the talents of the many wonderfully gifted and naturally talented cricketers that Pakistan, more so than any other country, produces. It's also a dreadful shame that there are former players - none of whom are angels - who keep running to the press to put the boot into the game in Pakistan. Perhaps the time has come for Pakistan to take a leaf out of India's book and appoint a new, young captain. And if they do, then they must also give him total support; but that, I'm afraid, is wishful thinking.

India v Sri Lanka Test series There are high hopes in Sri Lanka that Kumar Sangakkara can, with the help of some of his talented team-mates, do what his predecessors have never done - win a Test in India. There is little doubt that this Sri Lankan team has the ability and the confidence to win, and it may just be that Sri Lanka can take advantage of India's surprising loss to Australia in the recent ODIs. Mind you, Sangakkara does not believe Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. will be vulnerable. He is of the view that some teams react positively to losses, while others don't. Sangakkara certainly gives the impression that no matter what happens, he will do his best to see to it that his team enjoy their Indian adventure, while at the same time he will put as much pressure on the Indians as possible.

India, on the other hand, will be hoping that their born-again pace duo of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, backed by the volatile Sreesanth, will have the Sri Lankans hopping about.

Dhoni is young and strong. Though his captaincy honeymoon was brought to an end by the under-strength Aussies, his challenge will be to see to it that his talented and well-balanced team maintain a spring in their step. There is so much cricket played these days that enthusiasm is bound to suffer, and this can result in complacency. This is when a good leader of men comes into his own. It will be worth watching this aspect of Dhoni's leadership closely. India are my pick to win, but it won't be easy because there is plenty of flair and character in the Sri Lankan team.

Australia in India Australia won the seven-match ODI series in India with most of their frontline players on the injured list. With this in mind, it's not surprising that cricket lovers the world over marvel at the resilience of Australian cricket and wonder where this fighting spirit comes from. Questions like "What is it that makes Australia's bench strength special?", "Is it down to good luck, good management or something else?" It's certainly not luck or management. I think their resilience emanates from the club and state system in Australia.

In any given summer, cricketers only receive a limited number of opportunities to show what they are made of, and if on these occasions individuals do step up, they invariably get rewarded by moving up the grades in club cricket and then into the state teams. The process then starts all over again, and the reward is the ultimate dream of every young cricketer - to play for Australia. With this dream comes the history that has been written by those who have gone before, and it's a history book filled with great stories of young men taking the opportunity offered to them.

When Ricky Ponting tossed the ball to young debutant Clint McKay, Tendulkar was in full flight, but the youngster, thanks to the experience of the Aussie club and state system that I have described, handled himself well. He took 3 for 59 in the toughest of cricket environments. Sure, he would have received a pat on the back, but I would venture to suggest that there are a few other young Aussies who would have handled the situation just as well. The Aussie cornerstone for their bench strength is high standards of play in club- and first-class cricket.

South Africa in England England's tour of South Africa is underway, and the return of Kevin Pietersen will make a big difference to England's chances. Their batting without him lacks the ability to take an attack by the scruff of the neck. So despite him being a South African, all of England will be hoping he has a good tour.

I am inclined to put my money on South Africa, because Mickey Arthur and Graeme Smith have seen to it that their Test team is settled, stable and consistent. True, England will have taken some resolve from regaining the Ashes, but down in South Africa England will find the going tough.

What South Africa will have to keep an eye on are the crucial moments. It was these moments that England exploited against Australia, and winning them made all the difference.

"One comment I did find a little strange was that of Viv Richards. He chose to buy into the argument, stating the absolute obvious. He said you are either South African or English, you can't be both"

It has also amused me that so much is being written about the presence of so many South Africans in the England team. While I am sure that Strauss, Pietersen, Prior and Trott will have to put up with a bit of heckling from the South African crowds, it will be like water off a duck's back. In any event, if England wins, the South Africans will doubtless put the victory down to the presence of the South Africans.

One comment I did find a little strange was that of Viv Richards. He chose to buy into the argument, stating the absolute obvious. He said you are either South African or English, you can't be both. He is correct. D'Oliveira, Greig, Lamb, Smith, Strauss, Pietersen and Co are all South Africans playing for England, because they have qualified under ECB regulations. Viv should have some sympathy with this, as none of the West Indians represent their countries at international level. To get a decent team together they have always called upon the combined resources of many countries.

The Ashes returning to terrestrial TV There seems to be a good chance that Ashes cricket in England will return to terrestrial or free TV. At the moment all live international cricket played in the UK is on the pay channels, which are received by about 40% of Britain's homes. This means that a whopping 60% don't get to watch any live televised cricket. I have absolutely no doubt that it's in the best interests of the game everywhere that as many youngsters watch their heroes play as possible. Cricket should not be available only to those who can afford it.

I have first-hand experience of the value to a young boy of watching good players play the game on TV, and anyone who disputes the value of this to a youngster is deluding themselves. To be fair, there are extenuating circumstances in England. In so much as it doesn't seem that the BBC and the other free-to-air channels are prepared to come up with the sort of cash that will satisfy the ECB, they maintain they need the Sky cash to develop the game. My view is that there has to be some middle ground found to satisfy everyone. English cricket has enough problems to sort out without resorting to shooting itself in the foot yet again. The government in the UK is due to make a decision on this subject soon - let's hope they make it in the best interest of the game, and are not got at by the counties and the ECB.

Twenty years of Sachin Tendulkar What a wonderful feat, and what a pleasure it's been to be around to watch him play. Tendulkar will go down in history as one of the greatest batsmen ever, but it is the combination of his greatness as a player and the way he has conducted himself that will be his legacy.

My fond memories of Tendulkar go back to his initial wonderful performances in Australia and in Sharjah, where I saw him make a superb century to get India into the final. I don't think I have ever seen such classical attacking batting, especially those wonderful straight drives off deliveries that were not there for that particular shot. I simply thank Tendulkar for the pleasure of watching him play and for the example he has set youngsters.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (November 20, 2009, 0:08 GMT)

Its not a question about choosing a captain, but its a question about having some kind of professional administator first. I think Pakistan has a wide range of talent and if there are players who revolt, can be replaced with same quality of player from the pool. Thankfully in this situation, there is no tandulkar, ponting or warne. They are all bits and pieces players and there are so many of them in the back up which are at least of the same quality. If I was the administator, I had backed any captain which I had appointed and any or all the players not cooperating to him orseeming to be throwing there wickets, were taken out for a long rest. I would have risked a loss but not let this happened to younis. Then this was a seperate matter that younis was not performing for a long time and decision should have taken by management to not play him for some time until he regains it by playing in domestic setup. Its time to make AFRIDI captain for both shorter forms of game and keep yousef

Posted by Mr.Ghaffar on (November 18, 2009, 8:05 GMT)

YES, i am agree with yamin but it is too early to go for Umer as skipper. Still we have chances with his elder bro Kamran to see his capabilities as a skipper. Younis is required in test team becuase there is no other middle order batsman in Pakistan domestic to replace him. Fawad should play as opener in ODIs. He is best for that position. We can not afford Khalid or Butt in ODIs. There strike rates are not good for international cricket at any level. Look at the opening of other countries like India, S.Africa, Australia, W. Indies or N.zealand. Every team has good hitting batsmen. Evry team is improving but Pakistani openers are playing like they are playing 1975 world cup matches. Strike rate should be 100 or at least very close to it. Khalid score 64 of 112 balls. What is this? Even Butt can not play with good strike rate.

Posted by rocket123 on (November 18, 2009, 5:09 GMT)

Pakistan cricket is no less than a circus. It needs a strong, astute and stern leader like Imran Khan. Younis seems to have the ability but I guess he has been hobbled by his own performance in ODIs and Tests. Though he has an average of over 50 but it is mostly in friendly conditions and on docile pitches. He has lost command of the team becuase he could not step up in his role as a batsman on flat pitches, not to talk about his past performances against Australia and South Africa-two cricketing giants. Though Miandad was removed from captaincy by player power and Imran took over but he was unable to touch Miandad as a player. Mianded subsequently proved he was not to be trifled with as a batsman by scoring tons of runs abroad in all conditions. At the same time Imran led from the front and in addition, he was an elite socialite and well educated that further complimented his natural abilities. So none like Imran at the moment but Younis is the best bet if he could step up.

Posted by YAMIN786 on (November 16, 2009, 22:36 GMT)

Pakistan need a new coach , someone like Wasim Akram who has the power to control the Pakistani team thus giving full confidence to the appointed captin and appoint any backlashes . Pakistan need Younis Khan back in the team , he has a decent captain and has at least two years left in the game , those two years can be used to mould a fututre captain like Umar Akmal . Also while i believe younis should be back in the test team , his place in the one day team shoukd not be guranteed and Afridi should be appointed captain on a full time bases to rpovide some stability .

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