Abdul Qadir was a great legspinner for Pakistan who bamboozled many batsmen in his career. As Chief Selector for the Pakistan Cricket Board, Qadir has made a couple of interesting suggestions which this thread explores.
CAPTAIN APPOINTED ON SERIES BY SERIES BASIS
This is a welcome suggestion looking at the current captain, Shoain Malik. Malik has evoked mixed reaction from cricket fans during his captaincy tenure. Generally, a lot of the reaction is due to factors such as the dearth of cricket being played by the national team. However, Malik has been observed in ODI cricket and his captaincy has not
lived up to expectations. He appears a weak and uncharismatic leader who is more concerned about securing his place in the side, as opposed to improving team morale and gaining respect of players. However, consistent domestic performances in both batting and bowling and leading Sialkot and Punjab to victory in domestic competitions has altered the opinion of many of Malik’s critics, such as Inzamam.
Malik’s position has benefited from the unavailability of Yousuf due to his contract with the ICL and the dip in batting form of Shahid Afridi, two players who announced their willingness to take over from Malik as captain of the team. In fact, the Malik-Afridi rivalry is no secret to most. With Younis backing Malik and Misbah not being approached for the captaincy position, it seems Malik will remain captain but if the choice is between extending his tenure for a year or evaluating his performance on a series-by-series basis, the latter option is better for Pakistan cricket.
SEPARATE TEAMS FOR ODI, TEST AND T20
This was the other bombshell dropped by Qadir, which has raised mixed response. This suggestion is certainly innovative and sensible. Pakistan cricket has seen a sharp decline of late and having specialist teams for different formats can work in many ways. Firstly, more players will be tried and fresh faces
will be seen. For instance, players like Yasir Arafat and Mansoor Amjad, who have age on their side as well as capability of performing more than one role, can gain if they are slotted in the T20 team, because experienced players like Afridi and Kaneria will be considered before them in ODI’s or Tests. Secondly, Pakistan has recently relied on all rounders too much, with the result that both batting and bowling have suffered a setback. For example, Abdul Razzaq’s last few years in international cricket were nothing to write home about. He was a liability in batting, and a liability in bowling. Qadir’s ideas can help restrict players like Razzaq and Rana to a format where they can compete with top international players- Twenty20.
One argument is that Pakistan has needed all rounders to compensate for weak openers. Surely, if openers are not performing consistently, support is needed lower down the order and people have used this argument to justify playing players like Razzaq and Rana. However, Qadir’s recommendation can also help alleviate this dilemma. Format-specific openers can be tried. For example, Imran Nazir (if his ban is overturned) and Nasir Jamshed, both big hitters, can be utilised for T20 whereas openers like Butt and Khurram Manzoor, who are more cautious batsmen, can be used in Tests.
Of course, even without format-specific teams, PCB can slot random players to play for certain formats, but the economic concepts of division of labour and specialisation can help explain why treating Qadir’s proposals seriously, might help. Players can become better by playing the same format over and over again. For instance, someone like Imran Nazir can be considered as an automatic selection in T20, and he can always be guaranteed a place in T20 cricket. This will improve his confidence and also his fitness level- since he will be playing frequently. He will also not need to worry about other openers taking his place that much, because he will have a specialist role and he will know that he will always be considered over a more defensive opener, such as Khurram Manzoor for example. This strategy will help fast bowlers even more. Bowlers can benefit from more frequent international exposure which will improve their mental competitiveness, provide them with an incentive to keep their fitness top-notch and will also help their confidence.
To conclude, Abdul Qadir’s views have emerged as a breath of fresh air, considering the lack of planning and absence of sensible decisions by the PCB for a long time. Miandad, the Director General of PCB has expressed disapproval of these ideas because he thinks it is too much hassle, but it is submitted that implementation of such proposals is beneficial for Pakistan cricket for the longer term.