Pakistan v South Africa, Champions Trophy, Edgbaston June 10, 2013

Pakistan keep doing the same old thing

Again, Misbah-ul-Haq and the bowlers were let down by the rest of Pakistan's batting line-up

No defeat is welcome, but it was the wearingly familiar nature of this loss that will really sting Pakistan.

None of the fatal flaws will come as a surprise. No-one will be shocked to have seen Pakistan drop a crucial chance and no-one will have been surprised to see Pakistan's batting prove as weak as a kitten. An asthmatic kitten with a broken paw and commitment to pacifism. They have now been bowled out within their 50 overs in seven of their last 12 ODIs.

Equally, none of their strengths will come as a surprise. Despite a surfeit of full tosses, Pakistan again impressed with the ball - there is no more thrilling bowling attack in this tournament - and Misbah-ul-Haq - again - led the way with the bat. It's just that too much is asked of Misbah and the bowlers from the pathetically weak batting. A car can be fitted with the fastest engine, it won't go far without wheels.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by this performance. Pakistan have, after all, persevered with some of the same old players for many years - well over a decade in a couple of cases - long after it became apparent that they were unable to perform with the consistency required for international cricket. And, as they say, if you keep on doing the same old thing, you are likely to end up with the same old results. Sometimes you wonder what Imran Farhat or Shoaib Malik have to do to be dropped.

Maybe it is not their fault. Pakistan, starved of international tours, are not over-endowed with good quality young batsmen and replacements are not clear. The temptation to go back to the likes of Younis Khan is obvious, but it would offer a short-term solution at best.

If Pakistan really want to progress, they need to invest in the likes of Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Haris Sohail and Mohammad Rizwan. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, who was somewhat surprisingly dropped for this match, might also add solidity. Neither are, perhaps, natural limited-overs players, but you worry about the speed your boat is sailing after you've stopped it sinking.

Pakistan need to encourage these players with A tours or stints in domestic or league cricket around the world. They need to help them gain experience of other conditions and different types of bowlers. Such a venture would prove far more beneficial than the white elephant of a new stadium that has recently been built in Islamabad at great expense. It may be that the ICC need to offer more tangible assistance, too, but simply firing and hiring a succession of batting coaches will do nothing to fix the fundamental issues within the Pakistan system.

It will take time to turn things around. One of the replacements in this game, Umar Amin, endured a horrid match as he dropped Hashim Amla on seven and then looked out of his depth with the bat. But if the selectors were right to pick him here, they will be right to stick with him for months ahead to give him any chance of adapting to the rigours of international cricket. Pakistan supporters are going to need to show great patience in the years ahead.

It would be a tragedy if Pakistan cricket went the way of West Indies cricket and spectator numbers ebbed away due to dwindling belief in the team. At a time when cricket grounds across the world struggle to fill their grounds, Edgbaston was filled to the brim with voluble but good humoured Pakistan supporters. Not for the first time, the Pakistan supporters outperformed their team.

Most of then, anyway. Misbah was, quite ridiculously, booed at the post-match presentation despite top-scoring for the second game in succession and fielding with an athleticism and skill that put men 10 years younger than him to shame. Twice he completed run-outs while his diving catch to dismiss David Miller would have pleased Jonty Rhodes.

To his immense credit, Misbah defended the supporters' boos and admitted that the performance of his side's batsmen was inadequate.

"One day it is zindabad, the next day it is boos," Misbah said afterwards. "When you produce these sort of performances, they have the right to say this. The players need to take responsibility. If you are not delivering as a player, the team will suffer.

"At the moment, no-one is justifying their place in the team. No-one is getting runs. You think about selection after the tournament. We thought these were the best six batsmen in Pakistan when we came here. Again, it is about application and batsmen applying themselves. All the responsibility lies with the players.

"It's really difficult when you're batting is performing like that. It's really disappointing. Even in mid-innings, it was less than six-an-over and it was very much like a Pakistan pitch. We've played time and time over on these sort of pitches. You can't say the wicket was difficult."

The frustration from a Pakistan perspective is that South Africa were there for the taking. Weakened by withdrawals, they batted with timidity and were overly reliant on a debutant fast bowler - the hugely impressive Chris Morris - and the much-improved Ryan McLaren with the ball. But Pakistan made limited bowlers such as Lonwabo Tsotobe and Aaron Phangiso look like world-beaters and, for the second game in succession, only two men scored more than 16. They will win very few games while that is the case.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    since i started watching cricket in 1990, i have never seen Pakistan great batting wise. Even when we had the likes of some of the best batsman we were always depending on our bowling to bail us out. And 90% of the times our bowling did bail us out.

    Its time for Change, the last time pakistan was actually strong in batting was when Inzi took over as captain and had Yusuf and yunus both playing well along with salman butt who was a good opener.

    This is what i want to know when Afridi is our 2nd best scorer in SA series right before Champions trophy why did we drop him? also where is Umar akmal? asad bowled so well in Practice match yet didn't play while we played 3 lefty bowlers which isn't smart

    Its time to Fix Pakistani cricket, please we were one of the best and most feared nations when it came to cricket to now we can't do 200 runs while our bowling is still performing at very high level

  • Azim on June 13, 2013, 3:02 GMT

    I think, ICC can make PCB up to par cricketing governing body as other cricketing nation, by putting at least fives years of restriction from playing any International cricket. This will force PCB to administer cricket on democratic bases. In return, ICC won't loose any thing; it will actually provide PCB valuable time for the administration and promotion of cricket evenly in all the regions of Pakistan. Not only that it will be very healthy for World cricket.

  • Yasin on June 13, 2013, 2:23 GMT

    How in the world ICC approved four years term of Zaka Ashraf as constitutional? Where as High Court of Pakistan suspended Zaka Ashraf's term as unconstitutional and taken all the power from him to handle cricket affairs in Pakistan?

  • Dummy4 on June 12, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    Are we serious to resolve Pakistan's miserable batting problem? Then, select PCB Chief constitutionally where five cricketing region's head cast their vote in favor or against. On merit this should be featured comment.

  • sohaib on June 12, 2013, 14:53 GMT

    if they really want to improve change your domestic tracks i hope we will see some dominant improvements.

  • sohaib on June 12, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    The problem is with their batting techniques. It can't be improved till they improve the standard of their pitches. Even Indians play their domestic ranji trophy competition on grassy green pitches that is one of the main reason why they have a world class batting techniques as compared to Pakistan. Geoffry boycott also said that my 90 year old mother can easily bat on Pakistani tracks ;) This is why the youngsters can easily put 100 tons in domestic Quaid e azam trophy and the get failed at international level specially on the pitches of South Africa & Australia since both the countries have bouncy green tracks which are comparatively tough to score runs & when there is a Red ball it is almost disaster which we have seen in their tour of South Africa....

  • Evan on June 12, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    Well said there George. I have to agree, Misbah ul-Haq was a credit to himself and to the rest of his team. In the press conference he came across as humble, honest and overwhelmingly frustrated by the poor performance of his team.

    To be booed by his own supporters must have been very disappointing to a man who is clearly so proud to pull on the Pakistan shirt.

    You mention the need for the up-and-coming players to see overseas experience - didn't he also mention in the press conference that one of the areas they will be targeting now is to expose their younger players to overseas domestic cricket?

    It would be a desperate shame to see a fine cricketing nation suffer in the doldrums any longer...

  • Sam on June 12, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    @ Umms I normally never respond to anyone's comment as everyone is entitled to his opinion regardless how correct it stands. What was wrong with Afridi when he returned from Semi final of WC and lost the captain position? We lost Semi final yes but it was the fault of Misbah. Don't believe me? watch the recording. I don't recall Pakistan having issues with batting 50 overs before Misbah took over, in fact the batting disasters started with Misbah (PAK have now been bowled out within their 50 overs in seven of their last 12 ODIs.) i am sure you know he has been captain in all those 12 ODI's. The attitude and body language of your captain always matter, be a fan or cricketer we all know that. Watch the 37th over and the signal of Misbah to young Umar Amin and only then he was allowed to play the shots. who asked him to continue ducking the balls? Our batting order is a disaster and yes the team is the poorest we ever had, you wanna know who's fault is that? M____H and he must

  • KUMARAVEL on June 12, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    Pakistan is approaching ODI batting just like they did in the 1990s. 100 for 2 in 30 overs and then finish with 250 then defend it with world class bowling. This approach could have served them well in the past when they had excellent finishers like Inzy, Moin Khan , Razzak and Wasim Akram, but when you have Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz , I am afraid you cannot use that tactic.People say, bring in Ahmed shezad and Azar ali AND Asad shafiq. But I have not seen them set the world on fire either.Their best option would be to bring in Imran Nazir , Umar Akmal and Mohamed Yousuf in and give them a free hand. Line up would be Kamran , Imran Nazir , Jamshed , Umar Akmal, Mo YO,Hafeez, Misbah,Ajmal, Wahab,Junaid and Irfan .

  • mohammad on June 12, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    Looking at the last 2 games, I am not sure if few of those low scoring batsmen were out by a good ball or they just wanted them to be out. I have no confidence in the morality of few players. Pak cricket is famous for this type of actions.