There is first of all the injury to Shane Warne that may keep him out of the World Cup. If that should happen, it would upset all the plans of the Australian team.
Warne is Australia's key player, more than just the world's best leg-spinner. He is the team's standard-bearer and cheer leader.
I have always believed that matches are won and lost in the dressing-room as much as on the field. Warne has been an integral part of the Australian machine. I also feel that the game of cricket would be poorer without larger than life characters like him.
Those were wonderful shots that television captured of his young daughter looking somewhat lost as her father was carried out on a stretcher. I wish Warne a speedy recovery.
The World Cup is a few weeks away. The entire cricketing world seems to be revolving around this event. It was not always like this. The first three World Cups were played in England and there was no disruption to the cricket season. It was when the World Cup came to the subcontinent that national pride reared its head and when it went to Australia and New Zealand that it was seen as a marketing bonanza.
Thereafter, the World Cup has becomes cricket's biggest prize. A combination of national pride and marketing is a heady mix and Test cricket has been elbowed out. When the World Cup in South Africa is finally over, cricket will find itself at a cross-road. Which way will the game go?
The amount of money being invested in cricket is unreal. The world's economy is not in the best health. Sponsors may not be all that forthcoming. There will be cut-backs. Consider the obscene sums of money that South Korea and Japan invested in infrastructure for the Soccer World Cup. As investments go, any banker will tell you, there will be no return on that investment. Ultimately, cricket too will have to be governed by economics.
The next World Cup will be played in the West Indies and the countries that make up the West Indies do not have the kind of money that South Africa has. Cricket has been financially sustained by the one-day game, which in turn has been sustained by television.
Not many people watch Test cricket either at the ground or on television. Yet the future of this game is Test cricket. The one-day version is becoming to much of a tamasha and with variations like Max Cricket, even this tamasha will become something like a circus. The ICC should be looking seriously at the future of cricket.
Pakistan had started the one-day series with a flawed selection. That is to say by playing only five bowlers. The drubbing that Pakistan got at Durban should have taught us that a second chance does not mean a chance to repeat the mistake. This is what happened precisely at Paarl, in a game that was of crucial importance, one that Pakistan had to win to keep the series alive.
It was sheer bad luck that Wasim Akram has an injured hand. No prizes would have been offered to guess who would replace him. It should have been Mohammad Sami. It wasn't Wasim was replaced by Faisal Iqbal!
But having selected him, Faisal Iqbal was then sent number 7 to bat. It made sense to play Kamran Akmal but no sense at all for him to open the innings. If a pinch hitter was needed, there was Shahid Afridi already in the team.
The South Africans, on the other hand, learnt from every match they played. They may have made few mistakes. They did not repeat mistakes. The selection of Gary Kirsten was an inspired choice. Against a quality attack like Pakistan, South Africa called back one of their most experienced batsman. And to prove the point, Kirsten made a hundred.
It is not the loss of the series that I regret. It is the fact that these were the last One-day Internationals we would be playing before the World Cup and we appear not to have learnt anything from them. We should have got a stable batting order. Taufiq Umar was not picked after the first ODI. Yet he had gone to South Africa as the main opener.
There are some positives. The fielding has improved though not the running between wickets. The run-outs at Paarl were not only needless but foolish. I don't want to seem harsh but I am disappointed. A great opportunity had been provided to the Pakistan team to tour South Africa just before the World Cup. And we appear to have squandered the opportunity.
My heartiest congratulation to Pakistan's Blind team winning the World Cup at Chennai. During its preparations, the team was desperately short of cash. The PCB did help but many others who were asked to help, proved to be blind in heart. I hope someone will come forward to reward the team. It was a stupendous achievement against great odds.