June 14, 2013

Neighbour's envy

Pakistan have always looked wistfully at the batting riches produced across the border
65

Pick up some Indian scorecards from the last several years, and great batting heroes flash by - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag. Some of these have disappeared, but their replacements - Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan - are beginning to sound equally arresting. In Pakistan, reading these names triggers intense pangs of envy. When Pakistanis look at India's vigorous batting line-up, it leaves us disoriented and vertiginous. It is something we don't have, and we badly wish we did.

Batting greats populate the top orders of other teams too, but those names don't unleash in us anything even remotely close to envy. The reason is straightforward. When we look at people like Ricky Ponting, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen or Chris Gayle, we can't conceive of them being in our team. There is too much otherness about them. Even in someone like Hashim Amla, this otherness persists. He may share our religion and genetic stock, but there is sufficient South African fabric in him to make his presence in the Pakistan change room socially awkward. Nor do Sri Lanka generate much feeling of this sort either. They do have terrific batsmen in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, but culturally and temperamentally Sri Lankans too convey a certain otherness. They are family, yes, but more like distant cousins.

In the case of India's accomplished batsmen, we sense no such barriers. They feel like our brothers. They look like us and talk like us. They laugh at the same jokes, and feel irked by the same annoyances. We have similar tastes in music, cinema, and art. We use the same spices and generate the same flavours in our food. If the likes of Kohli or Dhawan were to come and hang out in Karachi or Lahore, they'd blend right in. Inside the Pakistan change room, they'd be a big hit.

The Pakistani fan's admiration for Indian batsmen occupies an emotional space that Pakistan's own batsmen have chosen to vacate. They no longer inspire or even please us. We get no joy from watching them bat, only anxiety. They give no sense of solidity at the crease, only fragility. Worst of all, their run-making ability is in unequivocal decline. Pakistan's international batting average combined across all formats over the last five years is 28.07, placing them eighth among all teams. Over the last year this figure has further eroded to 26.48, which places Pakistan ninth, behind even Bangladesh and Kenya. This recent piece by S Rajesh dissects these numbers in detail.

It wasn't always like this. Over the decades, Pakistani fans have been privileged to cheer for many outstanding batsmen, players who in their day could have walked into any other side in the world. But there are no such batsmen left in Pakistan today. The relationship between sports fans and their team is full of romance, in which the core dynamic is of the athlete wooing his supporters. The balance between the wooer and the wooed is always tenuous. Before long, the fans are bound to ask: what have you done for me lately? Pakistani batsmen today have no answer to this question.

Various theories are proffered to explain the crisis, but the matter is not that complicated. The blame, in one form or the other, must lie either with improper team selection, inadequate individual ability, or perhaps a combination of both. Selection, particularly, has become everybody's favourite punching bag, but much of it is undeserved. It isn't that new faces haven't been tried. Over the last ten years, Pakistan have blooded no less than 18 new batsmen in one or more international formats. The sad reality is that none of them has created any lasting impact. Many people complain that too many chances are given to underperforming players, or that not enough chances are provided to allow someone a settled opportunity. But even erratic selection cannot keep a lid on world-class talent for very long. Sooner or later, true calibre and merit are bound to shine through. If you don't see it, it probably isn't there.

Nobody knows why, despite being carved from the same tract of land, Pakistan became a nation of bowlers and India one of batsmen. Explanations focus on the handful of differences between the countries, but the fact is that no one really has a clue

Pakistan's supporters continue to hold the proud belief that their country's cricketers remain immensely talented, but in the case of the batsmen, the evidence is now clearly against it. You only have to extend your sights across the border with India to appreciate what authentic batting talent looks like. It isn't just about looking good when you play your strokes. It's about longevity at the crease and, ultimately, about piling on the runs. Measured against these benchmarks, there is no question that Pakistan's batting talent has dried up. The potential exists but Pakistan's cricket set-up is no longer translating it into talent and ability.

Of course Pakistan's envy of Indian batting is the mirror image of a problem that Indian fans have known for long. Starting in the mid-1970s, Pakistan have been an outstanding bowling side, and continue to be so. Imran Khan laid the foundations, and ever since, Pakistan's seam and pace battery has been regularly replenished and has remained healthy. Indians have pined and ached for these treasures. Nobody knows why, despite being carved from the same tract of land, Pakistan became a nation of bowlers and India one of batsmen. Explanations focus on the handful of differences between the countries, but the fact is that no one really has a clue.

For Pakistan, the need of the moment is to somehow get India's batting magic to rub off on their side of the fence. A comprehensive top-to-bottom examination of India's batting culture by Pakistani cricket authorities would be a good place to start. If you want to make the best product in the world, you have to go and see how the world's leading factory is doing it.

Ultimately a grassroots approach will be required, but Pakistan's mess of cricket governance - with an unaccountable PCB at the centre and personality-dominated regional associations scattered around the key cities - is a major hindrance to any such tactic. The ideal solution is to revive organised competitive cricket at the level of schools, colleges and clubs, and to simulate testing batting conditions (for example, through the use of matting wickets, which encourage sideways movement) for emerging young batsmen to develop robust skills and reflexes during their formative years. Pakistan stopped doing all this years ago, and those chickens are now coming home to roost. The modern emphasis on hiring a crackerjack batting coach for the national team, though well-intentioned, is utterly misplaced. The problem has to be attacked during adolescence, when bad habits have not yet been learned. The national team is situated too far downstream in the sequence.

Sorting out the PCB and its governance issues is a herculean task. So far, nothing has been able to shame Pakistan's cricket administrators into doing the right thing. Perhaps repeatedly and resoundingly coming up short in comparison with India will do the trick.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi. His latest book is Breath of Death, a medical thriller

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • icakes1971 on June 15, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    Excellent Article., As an ardent quality cricket supporter, whether its from my own country or any country across the borders, I can understand the agony of Pakistani Cricket fans, who have to make do with their limited resources. Here in Dubai, we play cricket where teams are mixed up with players from many Nationalities. I myself am part of such a team where we have excellent batsmen from Pakistan too, who, help the team in crossing the finishing line, no matter how tough the situation is. So as far as temperament, skill and motivation is concerned, there is no dearth of it, even at this level. Really surprised how come at the National level, proper players are not picked up. How about for a start invite, university, high school level players to play together from both the countries, wherever possible and understand the fabric of the Junior level cricket. I am sure we have a lot to share.

  • on June 17, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    no doubt he is great batsman.

  • on June 16, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    pakistan has enough batting talent and has in the past. if you look at the head to head between the 2 pakistan has won more games. at the miment the difference is pakistan are not playing enough international cricket and indian batsmen are getting plenty of exposure to top bowlers in the ipl. and it doesnt help wheb your selectio comittee picks a batting b team to repersent the nation in the tournement. why did they drop 4 batsmen from the team that beat india in delhi and kolkata.

  • Desidoc on June 15, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    A batsman, famously, has to make one mistake to fail and a bowler has to bowl one good ball to succeed. What this means is that batting is about temperament and bowling is about talent. You need the temperament to keep facing ball after ball and not make a mistake, innate talent takes a backfoot. Rahul Dravid exemplifies this more than most. Chandrashekhar could bowl lousy ball after lousy ball but he bowls 6 unplayable deliveries and India win for the first time in England.

    Pakistan's batmen just dont have the opportunity to develop a temperament. The selectors dont help, the politics dont help either and the fans are often absent since they play all their international games abroad. So we have a situation where the senior players are flashy and the junior ones are sedate (and not playing their so-called 'natural game' which is what gives you confidence in your own ability at least early on in your career).

    This is not something that impacts bowlers as much, ergo the bowlers do fine

  • Evolving on June 15, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    Youngsters follow role models in respective countries. Pak produced world-class bowlers such as Imran, Waqar, Wasim, Shoaib and India in batting stalwarts like Sachin, Dravid, Gavaskar, Ganguly.

  • Lahori_Munde on June 15, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    What a top notch article. But I am still trying to understand why India's bowling is being constantly under rated by so called expert in this tournament? A bowling unit who can dismiss Australia for 65 must have to be way above the average by far. I understand it was a practise game but Aussies had 9 frontline batsmen batting in their inning. The same bowling unit has dismissed us for 165 runs in this game. Currently, India's bowling unit is right up there along with their betting and fielding, and by far the best ODI team in the world..IMO

  • on June 15, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    Great article. However, I think that lack of a domestic infrastructure hampers the development of young Pakistani batsmen. After playing a couple of big innings in club level games, they are pitchforked into the big arena and exposed to a level of cricket they are not used to and they often find themselves all at sea.

    A couple of failures due to inexperience can dent their confidence in their ability to play at this level. A stint with an English county side or in the IPL can help them evolve as batsmen. Batting talent is there, what is missing in self-belief.

  • on June 15, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    While Pakistan's lack of quality batsmen is now glaringly obvious, one cannot also ignore the terrible selection for the current tournament. Why are people like Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Omar Amin who are consistent non performers still in the team when just as an example impact players like Abul Razzak are sitting out? New talent should be given a chance. There is nothing left to lose.

  • on June 15, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Much of the article is excellent. However, Mr. Shafqat makes a false equation when he infers that Pakistan's lack of great batsmen is matched by India's lack of great bowlers. First, as someone else here pointed out, India has had some great spinners over the years. Second, India has been within the top three ODI teams during the recent past (and is currently number 1 in the rankings and also the World Cup winner) whereas Pakistan is languishing at the bottom of the heap. So India's lack of great fast bowlers has not held them from being the best in the world whereas Pakistan's lack of great batsmen (and having fast bowlers) is contributing to their mediocre performance of late.

    Maybe India's batsmen are able to compensate for their lack of great fast bowlers but Pakistan's bowlers are not able to compensate for their lack of great batsmen.

  • atharsherwani on June 15, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Pakistan's young players should be taken to Batting acadamies where they should be ingrained and disciplined with technical aspect of batting. Only those who assimilate these essentials should then be promoted to under 17's and under 19's sides. Those coming through successfully should then be introduced in Pak A team which should be sent abroad 2 or 3 times each year and their performance monitored and then finally introduced in National side. There are no short term magic tricks. It may take 5 years to bear any fruit. But do we have the patience! Alas, NO.

  • icakes1971 on June 15, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    Excellent Article., As an ardent quality cricket supporter, whether its from my own country or any country across the borders, I can understand the agony of Pakistani Cricket fans, who have to make do with their limited resources. Here in Dubai, we play cricket where teams are mixed up with players from many Nationalities. I myself am part of such a team where we have excellent batsmen from Pakistan too, who, help the team in crossing the finishing line, no matter how tough the situation is. So as far as temperament, skill and motivation is concerned, there is no dearth of it, even at this level. Really surprised how come at the National level, proper players are not picked up. How about for a start invite, university, high school level players to play together from both the countries, wherever possible and understand the fabric of the Junior level cricket. I am sure we have a lot to share.

  • on June 17, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    no doubt he is great batsman.

  • on June 16, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    pakistan has enough batting talent and has in the past. if you look at the head to head between the 2 pakistan has won more games. at the miment the difference is pakistan are not playing enough international cricket and indian batsmen are getting plenty of exposure to top bowlers in the ipl. and it doesnt help wheb your selectio comittee picks a batting b team to repersent the nation in the tournement. why did they drop 4 batsmen from the team that beat india in delhi and kolkata.

  • Desidoc on June 15, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    A batsman, famously, has to make one mistake to fail and a bowler has to bowl one good ball to succeed. What this means is that batting is about temperament and bowling is about talent. You need the temperament to keep facing ball after ball and not make a mistake, innate talent takes a backfoot. Rahul Dravid exemplifies this more than most. Chandrashekhar could bowl lousy ball after lousy ball but he bowls 6 unplayable deliveries and India win for the first time in England.

    Pakistan's batmen just dont have the opportunity to develop a temperament. The selectors dont help, the politics dont help either and the fans are often absent since they play all their international games abroad. So we have a situation where the senior players are flashy and the junior ones are sedate (and not playing their so-called 'natural game' which is what gives you confidence in your own ability at least early on in your career).

    This is not something that impacts bowlers as much, ergo the bowlers do fine

  • Evolving on June 15, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    Youngsters follow role models in respective countries. Pak produced world-class bowlers such as Imran, Waqar, Wasim, Shoaib and India in batting stalwarts like Sachin, Dravid, Gavaskar, Ganguly.

  • Lahori_Munde on June 15, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    What a top notch article. But I am still trying to understand why India's bowling is being constantly under rated by so called expert in this tournament? A bowling unit who can dismiss Australia for 65 must have to be way above the average by far. I understand it was a practise game but Aussies had 9 frontline batsmen batting in their inning. The same bowling unit has dismissed us for 165 runs in this game. Currently, India's bowling unit is right up there along with their betting and fielding, and by far the best ODI team in the world..IMO

  • on June 15, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    Great article. However, I think that lack of a domestic infrastructure hampers the development of young Pakistani batsmen. After playing a couple of big innings in club level games, they are pitchforked into the big arena and exposed to a level of cricket they are not used to and they often find themselves all at sea.

    A couple of failures due to inexperience can dent their confidence in their ability to play at this level. A stint with an English county side or in the IPL can help them evolve as batsmen. Batting talent is there, what is missing in self-belief.

  • on June 15, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    While Pakistan's lack of quality batsmen is now glaringly obvious, one cannot also ignore the terrible selection for the current tournament. Why are people like Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Omar Amin who are consistent non performers still in the team when just as an example impact players like Abul Razzak are sitting out? New talent should be given a chance. There is nothing left to lose.

  • on June 15, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Much of the article is excellent. However, Mr. Shafqat makes a false equation when he infers that Pakistan's lack of great batsmen is matched by India's lack of great bowlers. First, as someone else here pointed out, India has had some great spinners over the years. Second, India has been within the top three ODI teams during the recent past (and is currently number 1 in the rankings and also the World Cup winner) whereas Pakistan is languishing at the bottom of the heap. So India's lack of great fast bowlers has not held them from being the best in the world whereas Pakistan's lack of great batsmen (and having fast bowlers) is contributing to their mediocre performance of late.

    Maybe India's batsmen are able to compensate for their lack of great fast bowlers but Pakistan's bowlers are not able to compensate for their lack of great batsmen.

  • atharsherwani on June 15, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Pakistan's young players should be taken to Batting acadamies where they should be ingrained and disciplined with technical aspect of batting. Only those who assimilate these essentials should then be promoted to under 17's and under 19's sides. Those coming through successfully should then be introduced in Pak A team which should be sent abroad 2 or 3 times each year and their performance monitored and then finally introduced in National side. There are no short term magic tricks. It may take 5 years to bear any fruit. But do we have the patience! Alas, NO.

  • IAS2009 on June 15, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    pakistan not playing game at home is one factor not biggest one because they play in UAE and pitches are very similar to Pakistan, poor selection is main thing, pick players and groom them and invest time, pakistan pick players but don't groom them well and very impatient with them, Asad Shafiq is good example he has been in and out so many times, poor guy always wondering if he plays in next game, selection on Imran Farhat and many others for SA tour was poor and people incharge of these have been making same poor decision over and over, so result is not surprise, garbage in garbage out, India has been lucky with their big three for so long, there were many players available and there pool of batsmen building up for a long time with their big guns gone the backup is coming good, not proven yet they have only played very few outside India (they enjoyed last 8 months of inidan conditions). PAK, AUS, NZ, BD, WI all struggling to get decent batting. Apart from Azhar Ali Pak have no one.

  • on June 15, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    Hmm...excellent article. But one thing...We Indians never think that our bowling is weak...with bowlers like Bhuvanesh, Praveen Kumar, Yadav, Ishant, Harbhajan, ......Kapildev,......Bedi.....List will be too big to mention all the names. But I definitly agree...there were great bowlers in Pakistan team, such as Waqar, Imran, Wasim Akram....But are current Pakistani bowlers in the same league?

  • on June 15, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    To me, it has always been a selection problem. This is typified by one egregious case: Shahid Afridi. He has simply not done enough with the bat to merit a place in the Test or ODI team. As a senior player, his approach to batting cannot be always be Boom-Boom. Instead of looking to bat with and guide the younger players with his vast experience, he comes in hits one six and gets out. Every time. This utter lack of team responsibility is disappointing in one who learned his ropes along side the likes of one of Pakistan's best batting lineups (Anwar, Inzy, Younis, Yousuf).

    Other senior players in the team are the first ones failing: where are Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik? Instead of developing the team, they are battling their own batting woes. Only Misbah-ul-Haq stands tall. Poor Misbah really should've played in that great Pakistan batting order of the 90s. Instead he gets stuck captaining an irresponsible bunch, who are repeatedly picked by shambolic selection committees.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 15, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    And its true about Pakistani fast bowlers , fantastic talents , the magician Wasim akram , waqar and recently Junaid khan , mohammad irfan ,always wished if India had two guys like that !

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on June 15, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    its true the real test of Indian youngsters are going to come in away test matches , but i think given enough time they will develop into good batsmen in tests also , the raw talent and more importantly technique is there in most of our emerging batsmen. just look at pujara , rohit sharma (may be inconsistent but has very good technique) and ever improving kohli.

  • sandy_bangalore on June 15, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    Mr Saad has clearly gone over-the-top in praising the current generation of Indian batsmen. The likes of Dhawan and Pujara are completely untested in challenging conditions. Dhawans debut hundred was against the weakest aussie line up in the last 20 years, and the hundred on a flat track against the windies dosent mean that he is the completel player. Kohli is the only one who has shown he can handle quality attacks overseas(against Oz). Has Mr Saad forgotten the 8-0 scorelines of 2012?? The tour to SA will clearly show where Indias 'talented' batsmen truly stand. And also reg Pakistan bolwers, other than Junaid Khan, i dont see any great young bowling talent. Irfan is almost 30 years old, so no way is he young. And what about spinners from both sides? A very flawed article on many levels!

  • Manowara on June 15, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    Very true, India are batting dominated and Pakistan are bowling dominated. But never forget the other way round a grate batsman in J. Miandad Z. abbas and the bowlers in K. Srinath and B. Bedi.

  • Sachin_Ramesh_Bradman on June 15, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    India produces great batsmen because batting is more skill-based than athtleticism based than bowling. Even in tennis, India has had great doubles players, where skill is of paramount importance than athletic abilities [look at India's record in singles].

    Most Indians from northern India tend to play hockey/boxing and not take up cricket. When those Punjabis and Jats show more intereste in cricket, India's bowling line-up will match up to world standards. Till then India will have to do with spurts of genius from swing bowlers and great spinners.

    Ofcourse batsmen like Kohli,Raina,Dhawan are super athletic along with Sir Jadeja and India's GOAT captain Mr.Dhoni.

  • ifti_m on June 15, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Please do not forget that Pakistan hasn't had a home series in 5 years... That ought to affect our batting...

  • venkatesh018 on June 15, 2013, 6:21 GMT

    There is one solution though to this crisis. Make it compulsory for all the Pakistan batsmen(whether from the national team or the A team)to play English county cricket for the next 10 years. There will be definite improvement in the art of building an innings.

  • venkatesh018 on June 15, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    Completely understand the sentiments of this article. It is really a mystery that Pakistan hasn't produce one world class batsman since Inzamam retired, while India has such batsmen in abundance who shine at least on batting-friendly domestic surfaces.

  • damafung on June 15, 2013, 6:15 GMT

    Not every Indian is obsessed with Pakistan. We are a diverse stock. You go down south or east or far east you won't find much similarity with Pakistanis. Honestly what defines our today's cricket is our ascent to the top and our contests with Australia and South Africa. Who can forget when Dada and his men challenged the mighty Australians in Australia and held the ground, when Kumble and his men shook Australia in WACA. Honestly Pakistan cricket and as a nation needs to get out of this obsession with India. In last two decades India has moved on, its time for Pakistan to do so.

  • on June 15, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    superb article sir.... this is all due to the britisher's ....while partition they had a clause...that batsman to india and the bowler's to pakistan :)

  • tanweeralam on June 15, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    Pakistan's batting woes can be summed up by the fact that a batsmen; well into his 40's who would have retired in any cricketing nation is the best batsman by far in not only in statistics but in skills, temperament, commitment and above all professionalism.

  • QingdaoXI on June 15, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    At Present INDOPAK XI for ODIS: Dhawan, Rohit, Kohli, Misbah, Dhoni, Raina, Jadeja, Junaid, Ajmal, Ishant, M. Irfan. and for test Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Azhar, Kohli, Mishbah, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ajmal, Junaid and Irfan on Asia tracks while Ishant can replace Jadeja on other tracks.

  • on June 15, 2013, 5:22 GMT

    A good article with an honest analysis of the subcontinent neighbours cricketing skills.

  • on June 15, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    rightly said Saad ...pak needs to learn from India

  • crikkfan on June 15, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    Since smudgeon mentions all-time - This could be an RoW XI that Ind-Pak XI could be facing: Greenidge, Boycott/Hutton, Bradman, G. Chappell, Richards, Sobers, Rod Marsh, Hadlee, Marshall, Holding/Lillee, Warne/Murali Tongue-licking prospect for cricket aficionados!

  • GL74 on June 15, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    I wouldn't for a second doubt the talent levels of the batsmen from Pakistan. It's certainly not ability that they lack. Each time I check the Pak team playing, I see talent oozing out of a few of them. A year or so later, they are gone. It's a difficult game and its critical that the conditions you play around, go a long way in nurturing the talent. The conditions for cricket, I'd imagine are far harsher in Pakistan than in India. At least that's how it appears from a distance. Pakistan needs another Imran Khan to shelter it's talent from the reality of Pakistan cricket.

  • Anwaruzz on June 15, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    Likewise, the Indian envy and deeply support the PAK bowlers, as after Kapil Dev there is no one there worthy to fill in his shoes. The envy and admiration for opposing teams strength are good signs for cricket in this sub-continent . Indians not only admire the PAK bowlers does not end in the playing field, they even go to the extent of calling them in commentating, IPL coaching, which we do not see happening in PAK.

  • KiwiRocker- on June 15, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    I admire Misbah Ul Haq. I am his fan and supproter. Pakistan will always owe Misbah for the good things he did and the way he held team after 2010 disaster. However, Misbah Ul Haq has a lot to answer when it comes to team selections. Misbah is a safe captain and for whatever reason is hell bent on keep trying failed players. Pakistan bowling thrives because Miandad spotted a Young Wasim or Imran saw Waqar Younis and picked them. Pakistan is a nation of insticnts and they do everything with emotion and pride. Analysis an rationale does not always work well in Pak cricket or society! Same goes for Pak's batsmen. Imran Farhat and Mailk are a decade failed players and should never be in the team. Hafeez should only play ODI and Kamran Akmal should never play again for Pak. Fawad Alam, Ahamad Shahzad,Hammad Azad ,Khurram Manzoor have scored runs for Pak and in domestic so what sin they have comitted to be ignored. Mailk scored less runs than Afridi in SA Actually! We wasted Asim Kamal too!

  • KiwiRocker- on June 15, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    Another finely written article from Saad. However, there are few things I do not agree. Firstly, India is doing well in this tournament and that is largely due to helpful condition.Remember, so called famed Indian batting has lost 8-0 in Australia and England and also lost against England at home. Same Indian batting also got humiliated against Pak in ODI series few months ago and actually Pak batting held much better.There is no denying that India has better batting line up but if you are suggesting they are at par with likes of Laxman and Dravid then it is premature suggestion. Pakistan up until 2000 has had an equally good batting line up. Sailm Mailk, Javed Miandad, Ijaz, Inzy, Anwar, Sohail were as good and better than Indians at that time.The dip starts afterwards and that is due to flawed/inconsistent selections.I am convinced Pak got the talent but that needs to be groowmed.Fawad Alma, Khurram Manzoor,Hammad Azam,( even Asim Kamal), Ahamad Shahzad are better than selected ones!

  • on June 15, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    @Desihungama: You are quite spot on with your explanation! @Saad Shafqat: Sir, the blames on selection committee are not entirely undeserved. When they do no select Fawad Alam (the man with the all-time best avg in Pakistan's cricket history) and Sohaib Maqsood (the leading domestic ODI batsman) and Haris Sohail (the most composed of all) and Sharjeel Khan (a comparatively much better and attacking opener), you cannot justify the poor selection. You need to address that issue too.

  • on June 15, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    correctly said SAAD. One of my best cricketing moments was when Pakistan thrashed England 3-0. Its high time PCB realize this. I sincerely wish Pakistan to be part of IPL 2014. That will give the kind of exposure and experience a batsman requires

  • on June 15, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    Thanks for a great article Saad.

  • CurrynOz on June 15, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    I think it is not about the talent thing alone. It is technical. Closely observe the scoring shots employed by Pakistani or for that matter by many Lankan batsmen exception bei.ng Sangakara and to an extent Jayawardene (but only to an extent). They are behind the square and mainly on offside. Where are the booming drives down the ground.. Very few.. Having said young Indian batsmen are not any benchmark as they need to be tested in RSA,Australia and England and then only will we come to know of their true worth but the fact is Indian batters play a lot in the "V" and down the ground.. When they start playing square they get into trouble..

  • on June 15, 2013, 1:08 GMT

    A very touching article. I spent some time yesterday making a combination of India and Pakistan teams. Only Misbah made it to the side (from Pak) as far as batting goes. But as far as pacers go, only Ishant made the bowling side (due to his experience). Jadeja was the allrounder and Ajmal or Ashwin for offspin. Maybe there should be a subcontinent team (IND & PAK only) vs Rest of World match/series.That would make or an interesting watch.

  • smudgeon on June 15, 2013, 1:00 GMT

    Imagine a combined all-time India-Pakistan XI. Just off the top of my head, imagine facing off against a lineup featuring guys like Gavaskar, Hanif Mohammad, Tendulkar, Dravid, Zaheer Abbas, Miandad, Imran, Kapil, Wasim & Waqar, Kumble, Qadir. You wouldn't back yourself to score 400 in most conditions, nor take 20 wickets.

  • MFNadeem on June 15, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    if somebody reckons that our cricket, especially our batting has lost its foothold and has become hopeless, they better take a look at the records of some of the young domestic players like Usman Salahudin, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, and Navid Yasin etc. They score heaps of runs against the likes of Gul, Irfan, Sadaf Hussain, Asad Ali, etc. It is not the players but the management that is playing cricket for our nation.

  • Equanimous on June 15, 2013, 0:45 GMT

    Our batting has always been like this apart from 4 or 5 people. It is now exposed because because we can't pad up our averages at faisalabad, Karachi, or Lahore against Zimbabwe, after we come back from a miserable tour of austrailia. Everyone knows that those tracks are as flat as the surface of the desk you wrote this article on. The other reason is that we have so many bowlers we think bowlers are batsmen too. Shoib Malik, Afridi,Razzaq, hafeez to name a few. The delusion is so deep that after we fail in batting, we ask for Razzaq back. We want to bring back people with averages in 20's to replace other people with averages in 20's. numbers do not lie, and until we can learn to prefer science (statistics in this case) over feeling ( referring to afridi lovers) nothing will change.

  • Kak-mal_Khan on June 15, 2013, 0:18 GMT

    @IndCricFan2013 - I think that you will find that India spin bowlers appear to have done a better job, this is because Indian pacers were not being able to take wickets even on Oveseas tracks favourable to pace. Pakistan bowling is still potent and admired in all forms be it spin or pace. India have not improved their bowling, just their fielding, which again is result of IPL and playing against the World's best. Banning Pakistan players was a definate ploy to compound Pakistan cricket into further decline in the face of NO international cricket on Pak shores.

  • on June 15, 2013, 0:13 GMT

    Fielding is another division where Pakistan needs improvement.

  • on June 15, 2013, 0:03 GMT

    Its not like we havent produced great batsmen. We have batting giants in every decade. Even in the last decade people like Inzaman, Yousuf and Younis played most of the games. In the nineties Saeed Anwar, Aamir Sohail, Inzamam, Salim Malik etc were in the team and before that Javed, Zaheer Abbas and even Imran Khan played with much success. During the last few years players were not groomed enough. They are replaced even after very few bad performances and were ignored after that. Faisal Iqbal, Asim Kamal, Umer Akmal have all been wasted. Asad Shafique and Haris Sohail who were better than most and should been groomed are not preferred over the likes of Farhat, Malik etc. We need to invest in talent and they will start performing.

  • Kak-mal_Khan on June 14, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    Please can Pakistan management ensure that NO Pakistani batsmen is to return back to Pakistan from England after the CT. These guys should play some League Cricket in the UK, be it 2nd XI or minor counties, and furthermore start sending the young players to also undertake their summer practice in UK. The England team over recent times has been producing better bowlers with probing line and lengths, and this is the main area where Pakistan batsmen struggle especially in seaming conditions that are not being replicated in Pakistan. Why be envious of India, they have improved in shorter format of the game because of IPL and big crowds, this allows a batsmen to cope with pressure cooker situation. It is obvious this Pakistan team was overwhelmed with the support that turned out. Pak are not welcome in the biggest League in the world, and playing a lot less COMPETETIVE cricket than all other world class players, the IPL workload is too much for pace bowler, but a batsmen needs this exposure

  • rick333 on June 14, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    can you trade some of your bowlers for our batsmen? that will make both ind and pak a force to reckon with. perhaps this will apply beyond cricket as well a little sharing and cooperation we can well be the force to reckon with in the world map!

  • ToTellUTheTruth on June 14, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    One more thing. The other aspect that you completely forgot to mention is the fielding. Compare the current Pak team's fielding to India's fielding and you may find more holes that needs filling.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on June 14, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    Saad bhai. If PCB can stop crucifying their own players, just to hide their incompetence, may be more players will come through, that can bat. Look at what happened to all the ex-pakistani batting greats. How come not one of them (as recently retired as Mohammed Yousuf) are not included in PCB ranks? PCB is run by the "President Of the Day" in pakistan. The president can bring in any one that is his crony. So, a politician dictating to crickets how cricket should be played/adminstered. Are you kidding me? I average 42 in my local league (club level). With the set up you got in Pakistan, even I will be a super star in Pak dressing room. BCCI is also run by politicos, but they left few parts, like the actual cricket, to cricketers. That's the only difference.

  • on June 14, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    On the other hand we have always envied their production line of fast bowlers - give an arm and a leg to boast of a bowler like Wasim Akram...

  • salmantarar on June 14, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    I disagree with Saad Shafqat on the whole premise. The fact of the matter is the cricketing culture in both countries couldn't be any different. Pakistan's batsmen and bowlers are equally attacking in their domestic cricket. Which on one side helps Pakistan bowlers but on the other hand takes away from Pakistani batters. Since a batsman needs a solid technic to be able to perform on international level Pakistani batters always find themselves flat footed especially in away games and the stats are very clear in this regard. And as we can see the batsmen that have actually performed for Pakistan have been rather tamed tigers who have manged to play themselves in and showed resolve such as Inzimam, Amir Sohail, Saeed Anwar who showed aggression in batting but stayed in there respective comfort zones. The problem with current batch has been their inabillity to weigh there aggression and find a comfort zone. The need of the day is introspection! so they can balance respective abilities...

  • Omarrz on June 14, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    @Saad Shafqat --> I have been writing about this in almost every article on Pakistan's cricket, i.e. in order to make an improvement in batting Pakistan has to invest in school cricket. Right at the age of 10-15. One cannot expect a flawed technique to be corrected once you reach a age of 20 or when you are playing for your national team. Heck, why the hell did that player even qualify to play for a national team with such stupid technique.

    Other thing which will help Pakistani players is that there should be regular full time psychologists to brain train them.

  • ok2307 on June 14, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    Nice article. Being an Indian I feel batting is the easier job since the subcontinent pitches do not offer much to the fast bowlers and I would not have enough motivation to take up fast bowling. I feel probably that is the reason we have produced good batsmen but not so good pace bowlers. We have produced some great spinners since the subcontinent pitches offer lot of assistance to spinners and the same logic holds good. When it comes to Pakistan though it really is a mystery to me how they always produce such great fast bowlers, and, the bigger mystery is why they fail to produce good batsmen. We can't forget batsmen like Inzi, Miandad, Anwar, Mohd Yousuf etc, but not many come to my mind. Till 1947 we were one country, just imagine what the team would have looked like with bowlers from Pakistan and batsmen from India had it continued to remain one team!

  • IndCricFan2013 on June 14, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    Nice article. One point though, Indian spinners have done better job over the years as good as few PAK spinners and above them at times. Only pace bowlers hold the edge. But that is slowly changing as well.

  • Crick_Chater on June 14, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    As much dearth of talent and grooming at grass root is attributed to the decline of Pak batting, equally responsible is " CHACHA MAMMA" selection. Where traditionally Lahore produced good fast bowlers and Karachi provided good batsmen and spinners. That balance is missing somewhere..

    Talent have no boundaries, yet Pak team is confined to a region or may I say a city at best. It is worrisome to see so many players, selectors and management from a small regional belt of Punjab.

    I like to see a balanced team again, as we had seen it in the past.

    In players selection, along with talent we shall look for positive attitude, character and the ability to finish the job, regardless of their regional or ethnic identities.

  • TNAmarkFromIndia on June 14, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    I think both countries think the same way. There's not much of. difference between the two countries, and geographically they're not toofar awy from each other, yet one is known for producing great bowlers and the other for producing great batsmen. I think it's a tradition and a culture that's begun in both countries since the 70's. Pakistan have produced great fast bowlers and the likes of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis etc. inspired generations of young players to be bowlers. Similarly, batsmen like Gavaskar, Tendulkar etc. inspired generations of aspiring cricketers in India to be batsmen. That's the way it has been, and it's hard to see that change soon, unless Pakistan find one or two great batsmen or India find a few really good bowlers.

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    Some Indians like me feel quite the same about Pakistani bowling- as he rightly says. Pakistan somehow have a perennial supply of quality fast bowlers, even with Asif and Aamir banned, they still have Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, they keep producing good fast bowlers. In India we lacked quality fast bowlers who served consistently, Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath (he was a genuine express quick in his prime, but spent prime years of his youth serving drink bottles, and started bowling the slower ball too late in his career), and to some extent Zaheer Khan was all we could produce as among the good ones.

  • Sagar.padal on June 14, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    My opinion is that most of the Pakistani batsman are either too defensive ( e.g Misbah, Hafeez) or too attacking ( Afridi, Umar). There is no dearth in talent but is just the mindset. On a given day when Hafeez and Misbah starts firing they look unstoppable. Salman butt is dearly missed as well as he had the temprament to stay long hours on the wicket as well as score fast runs. The captaincy is also a big issue as Misbah clearly struggles with it and might well get affeccted when he bats. He should be a free flowing batsman rather than an anchor role types. Shoaib malik should be given charge. Where is Yasir Hamid?

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    Very well written... but we do envy at times what if we have had bowlers like urs in our team... and at times bizarre thoughts of how it would have been if players like Sachin and Akram shared the same dressing room or now Kholi and Ajmal shared the same dressing room... I sincerely hope that it happens soon in IPL at least...

  • Desihungama on June 14, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    Saad! Cricket is a different beast altogether than any other sports. Cricket is a true reflection of a society. Decline in our batting resources occurred around the same time country saw decline in it's moral and socioeconomic facets. Bowling is more like a resistance whereas batting is all attitude and confidence in one's ability. Our previous former batting greats all played English County Cricket. With spot fixing issue, I guess they are not welcome there any more. How much is our administration along with characters like Butt, Asif and Amir are to blame? Certainly,some elements in our society do not think or why else would they invite Butt to host shows? That's a collective moral decline as human beings.

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    crindo77: I couldn't have with you more.

    The whole world is gaga over Indian batting but to me younger generation batsmen from India can only be compared with their forefathers only if they can take India to #1 in test. I agree they have talent but I also fear they lack intent, grit, and temperament which were hallmark of great Indian batting lineup.

    It's good to win 50 over cricket and Twenty20 (thanks to IPL here), but crushing opposition teams into dust in test cricket is sweet...

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    Saad - I deeply appreciate your article and envy on Indian batters. Perhaps you forgot the fact that Indian fans would have the same envy on Pakistani fast bowlers. We do not have the Wasims, Waqars and Imrans of the Pakistan team. Bowlers are the heroes in Pakistan and every kid will dream of becoming a great fast bowler.

    Every team has their own strengths and weaknesses. A great team will always be on the lookout for improving their weakness while relishing on their strengths. I hope Indian gets more quality pacers and Pakistan get more quality batters. It would be a great thing for the cricketing fraternity if that happens.

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    Haha, thanks Saad. Honestly we have always envied your fast bowling. The grass is always greener.

  • TheProfPak on June 14, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    Right on money Saad! It does not need rocket science to see where the problem is, but if there is strong will on part of Cricket administration to correct. PCB is a big part of it no doubt, but cricket admin at regional and hierarchy further down must also take blame of it. If there seem to be no direction on part of PCB, there aren't much efforts from down below either. Long live Pakistan Cricket!!

  • Batmanindallas on June 14, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    I think India and Pakistan should do what Ireland and England are doing but more a two way street here than the one English have with Ireland. A Badrinath or Jaffer I am sure would love to make to a test team and they have no chance of that happening in India. I also think both of these guys are streets ahead of what is current Pakistani batting line up..even Mumbai has a better line up than current Pakistani set up. In return India gets the bowlers...I say it is a fair deal :)

  • on June 14, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    Great article. The solution is to get Pakistan's batsmen to value their wickets and grind out runs as best as they possibly can. None of this young crop are special, none will set the world alight, but a set of committed, brave and courageous batsmen who can provide some runs for the national team.

  • crindo77 on June 14, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    Thank you Saad for praising Indian batsmen to high heaven. However, as a fan of Indian cricket I will reserve my praise till India have batted well on a overseas Test series. The series against SA this winter will show what lies beneath. SA and WI have bowled poorly to India, lots with width and short to boot. The ball hasn't swung. These are the things that have been the test of real batting, why the Gavasakars, Amarnaths, Tendulkars, Dravids and Laxmans are what they are; the current breed have yet to show anything close to that. batting 150 overs against good quality pace and swind on lively pitches, thats testing, The signs are promising, but the real test is yet to come.

  • crindo77 on June 14, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    Thank you Saad for praising Indian batsmen to high heaven. However, as a fan of Indian cricket I will reserve my praise till India have batted well on a overseas Test series. The series against SA this winter will show what lies beneath. SA and WI have bowled poorly to India, lots with width and short to boot. The ball hasn't swung. These are the things that have been the test of real batting, why the Gavasakars, Amarnaths, Tendulkars, Dravids and Laxmans are what they are; the current breed have yet to show anything close to that. batting 150 overs against good quality pace and swind on lively pitches, thats testing, The signs are promising, but the real test is yet to come.

  • on June 14, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    Great article. The solution is to get Pakistan's batsmen to value their wickets and grind out runs as best as they possibly can. None of this young crop are special, none will set the world alight, but a set of committed, brave and courageous batsmen who can provide some runs for the national team.

  • Batmanindallas on June 14, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    I think India and Pakistan should do what Ireland and England are doing but more a two way street here than the one English have with Ireland. A Badrinath or Jaffer I am sure would love to make to a test team and they have no chance of that happening in India. I also think both of these guys are streets ahead of what is current Pakistani batting line up..even Mumbai has a better line up than current Pakistani set up. In return India gets the bowlers...I say it is a fair deal :)

  • TheProfPak on June 14, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    Right on money Saad! It does not need rocket science to see where the problem is, but if there is strong will on part of Cricket administration to correct. PCB is a big part of it no doubt, but cricket admin at regional and hierarchy further down must also take blame of it. If there seem to be no direction on part of PCB, there aren't much efforts from down below either. Long live Pakistan Cricket!!

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    Haha, thanks Saad. Honestly we have always envied your fast bowling. The grass is always greener.

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    Saad - I deeply appreciate your article and envy on Indian batters. Perhaps you forgot the fact that Indian fans would have the same envy on Pakistani fast bowlers. We do not have the Wasims, Waqars and Imrans of the Pakistan team. Bowlers are the heroes in Pakistan and every kid will dream of becoming a great fast bowler.

    Every team has their own strengths and weaknesses. A great team will always be on the lookout for improving their weakness while relishing on their strengths. I hope Indian gets more quality pacers and Pakistan get more quality batters. It would be a great thing for the cricketing fraternity if that happens.

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    crindo77: I couldn't have with you more.

    The whole world is gaga over Indian batting but to me younger generation batsmen from India can only be compared with their forefathers only if they can take India to #1 in test. I agree they have talent but I also fear they lack intent, grit, and temperament which were hallmark of great Indian batting lineup.

    It's good to win 50 over cricket and Twenty20 (thanks to IPL here), but crushing opposition teams into dust in test cricket is sweet...

  • Desihungama on June 14, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    Saad! Cricket is a different beast altogether than any other sports. Cricket is a true reflection of a society. Decline in our batting resources occurred around the same time country saw decline in it's moral and socioeconomic facets. Bowling is more like a resistance whereas batting is all attitude and confidence in one's ability. Our previous former batting greats all played English County Cricket. With spot fixing issue, I guess they are not welcome there any more. How much is our administration along with characters like Butt, Asif and Amir are to blame? Certainly,some elements in our society do not think or why else would they invite Butt to host shows? That's a collective moral decline as human beings.

  • on June 14, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    Very well written... but we do envy at times what if we have had bowlers like urs in our team... and at times bizarre thoughts of how it would have been if players like Sachin and Akram shared the same dressing room or now Kholi and Ajmal shared the same dressing room... I sincerely hope that it happens soon in IPL at least...

  • Sagar.padal on June 14, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    My opinion is that most of the Pakistani batsman are either too defensive ( e.g Misbah, Hafeez) or too attacking ( Afridi, Umar). There is no dearth in talent but is just the mindset. On a given day when Hafeez and Misbah starts firing they look unstoppable. Salman butt is dearly missed as well as he had the temprament to stay long hours on the wicket as well as score fast runs. The captaincy is also a big issue as Misbah clearly struggles with it and might well get affeccted when he bats. He should be a free flowing batsman rather than an anchor role types. Shoaib malik should be given charge. Where is Yasir Hamid?