From our readers

Pakistan cricket

November 11, 2013

The hopelessness of Pakistan's batting

Raja Omer

Mohammad Hafeez was bowled by Ryan McLaren for 26, Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Dubai, November 1, 2013
Castled by a reverse-swinging comet © AFP
Related Links

Batting is simple. Generally, you look at the ball, hit it and try not to be a Pakistani batsman. But even if you are a Pakistani batsman, you could still look at the ball and not hit it. Of course, this is based on the simple surmise that you can't get out if you don't hit a ball that isn't headed for the stumps. In present form it seems this is the only way the Pakistani batsmen can last the full quota of 50 overs. Going by the inexplicable expressions on the faces of Akmal, Amin, Afridi, Jamshed and Hafeez when they are batting, you'd imagine that the thing coming out of the bowler's hand is in fact the Halley's Comet. Space enthusiasts are always encouraged to come and watch Pakistan's batting come to grips with big raging balls of flame hurled towards them at the speed of knots. Stars dying, stars being reborn, black-holes attracting balls, supernova batting explosions - you'll see it all. Why long for space travel when Pakistan's batting is a microcosm of exactly what is to be seen out there?

But can one really blame the Pakistani batsmen for their repeated misdemeanours with the bat, in light of such a hefty burden on their shoulders? Just winning is never enough. The team has to win with flair. It's almost an unwritten rule for the side. So, it's only fair if the other team plays its part too, because there is only so much a team of 11 Pakistanis can do on the cricket field.

In cricket when a batsman gets out early in his innings, the walk back to the dressing room is always difficult. There is the guilt of failure and the accusing looks of fellow team-mates. But then there is also the comfort in the hope of senior players raising their hands and guiding the team through those troubled waters. But not in the Pakistani team. When every batsman within the team fails with such religious regularity in the 10s and 20s, the only solace is in knowing that the other batsmen got out in an even more ridiculous manner than you did. Then the aim is simply to get in there, and get out without looking too silly. You see there is always hope in the collective failure of the team's batting in getting you through to the next match. This way there is no pressure of performing better in the next match either. Ask Hafeez or Afridi. They can vouch for this strategy.

But they are exceptional bowlers you say? Indeed they are. But if batsmen are to be picked on bowling abilities alone, why even go through the motions of picking any batsman? Why not simply play with 11 bowlers instead? The bowlers are anyway doing a better job at batting than the batsmen - Wahab Riaz was the top-scorer in the third ODI against South Africa.

For the Pakistani fan, batting is a harrowing tale of what could be. They see great potential in the likes of Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq and Umar Amin. And they show great promise too with the occasional fifty or century, but they never quite live up to the expectations. The majority in Pakistan also finds it difficult to make peace with Misbah-ul-Haq's style of batting. The extremely low strike-rate for extended intervals only sustains the pressure that Misbah would otherwise want to get the team out of. Convincing Misbah to play attacking cricket to up his strike-rate would be like trying to floss a cat's teeth while getting a teenager to tell you about his day.

Serious doubts linger over whether the duo of Misbah and Whatmore can figure out what is wrong with Pakistan's batting. It is a malaise that has stuck with the team for far too long. The last time Pakistan chased a target of over 250 was two years ago. If Misbah's 'I don't have the answer' statement is anything to go by, one wonders if they have already resigned their efforts to find the answer. With such a defeatist approach, they would probably have a hard time finding the solution even if it had its arms thrown in the air like the trademark Afridi 'X' while prancing around the cricket field in Imran Tahir's knickers.

Speaking of Imran Tahir, maybe he should write a personal thank you note to the PCB, signed love, XOs and all. Because, only Pakistan could have rejuvenated his career from oblivion the way they have.

I don't know about your country dear reader, but we Pakistanis have a proud history of making star players out of hitherto unknown individuals. It's really inconsequential whether the individual concerned actually plays for Pakistan or not.

If you have a submission for Inbox, send it to us here, with "Inbox" in the subject line

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

. Your ESPN name '' will be used to display your comments. Please click here to edit this.
Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Dummy4 on (December 19, 2013, 16:21 GMT)

all good, but i just wanted to say that if a player emerges quit brilliantly like NJ and wraps up his career is only due to coach? the answar what i supposed to be, because a player at that level might have their own guts of understanding the scenario in which they are playing and thats why that individual is in the playing 11. we just might need to understand the game and nothing else

Posted by ESPN on (November 15, 2013, 7:23 GMT)

our team is just having bad time, forget to change anything....just wait and see

Posted by Dummy4 on (November 14, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

In my view all top six ( including boom boom) should now be dumped, the team is loosing anyway so why not give some chance to those who have not been there before and performed well domestically. I think the selectors should identify a poll of 10-15 players and give them a long run. The times of boom boom, malik, akmals, tanvir and professor is ended way before. The theory of trying dead bullets again and again should please be changed now. We in rebuilding process since 2003 world cup when Saeed Anwar, Waqar and Easim retired and in last 10 years we have not produced even one player who finds himself set in all formats. Hafeez, Malik, and Akmals have not been able to prove their worth in last decade so whats the point to keep them in the team. Lots to say but I KNOW NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

Posted by Dummy4 on (November 14, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

Second Part of the Solution: Three different teams for all three different formats based on all players averages & Sr from Pakistan domestic cricket as all domestic players either for ODI or t20 correspond well to their International Averages so its wise you select players with highest Batting Averages or Bowling from your Domestic's and this is even true for past Pakistan players as i have looked at the statistics. I don't agree with title of this Article in the light of my comments thus first do selection on merit and then if there's problem get Good Coach not a foreigner but someone from Pakistan cricket legends it will help the players psychologically feel at rest and will address their batting or bowling issue's and Allah willing Pakistan cricket will be best of all teams or one of the best to say the least!.

Posted by Dummy4 on (November 14, 2013, 4:27 GMT)

Solution List A Batting Averages of Some Players of Pakistan Domestic: Sharjeel Khan 52 , Fawad Alam 44, Khurram Manzoor 47, Sohaib Maqsood 52 , Faisal Iqbal 42, Azhar Ali 50, , Asif Zakir 41, Afaq Raheem 47, Akbar-ur-Rehman 45, Khalid Latif 46, Babar Azam 49 , Zain Abbas 54(few match). Current Pakistan Players List A Batting Averages: Mohammad Hafeez 33, Shahid Afridi 24 , Misbah-ul-Haq 48 , Asad Shafiq 36, Ahmad Shehzad 34 , Shan Masood 32, Shoaib Malik 37, Abdul Razzaq 30 (he's also all-rounder), Umar Akmal 36, Kamran Akmal 28, Wahab Riaz 15, Sohail Tanvir 15, Salman Butt 44, Younis Khan 34, Mohammad Yousaf 40, Imran Farhat 36, Haris Sohail 36, Sarfraz Ahmad 29 (wk), Nasir Jamshed 33, Anwar Ali 20, Taufeez Umar 39.56, Awais Zia 27, Imran Nazir 28, Azhar Mahmood 22, Hasan Raza 39.35 Interesting Thing is the averages are almost same to international Odi Averages of these players .More interestingly Not even one player has average above his List A averages in international ODI's career

Posted by imran on (November 13, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

misbah should remain as only test captain afridi & umar akmal should be opener hafeez should bat at no. 5 or 6. pakistan need a good batting coach.i should say very good.

Posted by Code on (November 12, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

A big thank you to all the folks who joined in the discussion through the comments section. I really enjoyed reading them. Regards, Raja.

Posted by Ali on (November 12, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

Cant expect Umar Akmal to get a century, he bats at no. 7. Umar Akmal has an average of 39 that is higher than everyone in the squad appart from Misbah and Shoaib Maqsood. Umar Akmal eith bats at no.7 and gets a quick-fire 30 or bat uo the order and make hundreds at a quick strike rate.

Think the world needs to read your opinions on cricket? Here's your chance to be published on ESPNcricinfo.



The adequate artistry of M Vijay

The Indian opener is a stylish batsman who can look at his Test achievements ...

The serial toppers: batsmen analysed by series dominance

Which batsmen fare the best when their careers are assessed on their relative...

Madras' Srikkanth

The former India captain's average may be below 30, but his daredevil batting...