Pakistan’s humiliating loss to Sri Lanka displayed everything that we on LS have spoken about numerous times; pathetic captaincy, favouritism towards certain players, lack of unity and lack of planning. Javed A Khan in his preview of the series predicted a 2-1 victory for Sri Lanka and how true did that come! 2-1 on paper does not appear that humiliating, but one needs to analyse how Sri Lanka came back at Pakistan and the margins of defeat in the 2nd and 3rd ODI. In the 2nd ODI Pakistan lost by 129 runs and in the 3rd it was an unbearable margin of 234 runs.
Malik in the post-match ceremoy again tried to blame other factors for the defeat instead of his captaincy, citing that it is difficult if the team has not played much cricket, but if that was the case why did the team even bother practising before the commencement of this series? And what was the point playing in the Q&A Trophy if it would have been difficult beating Sri Lanka? Malik might as well have stayed at home flying kites in Sialkot, or spent time with Sayali Bhagat in India.
Why is it that only inside Pakistan Malik gets bundles of support,
but outside Pakistan people consider him to be an idiot? Malik commands no respect from any cricketer outside Pakistan, whether that is Dhoni, Jayawardene or Greame Smith. Further, all foreign commentators have been extremely critical of Malik and just cannot understand why Malik keeps making ridiculous decisions. Dominic Cork is the latest addition to Malik’s critics, asking why Malik is so defensive and why he keeps making silly mistakes like not using Gul for his total quota of 10 overs and sending Akmal to bat at no 4? Malik’s captaincy was laughable in this series; in particular, he made some very basic errors in field placing to the benefit of the likes of Dilshan, Kandamby and Sangakkara.
Akmal was again a major disappointment. He dropped about 4-5 catches and missed a very crucial stumping chance off Malik today. What is it about Akmal that Malik finds so attractive? For 3 years Akmal has been a major liability in the keeping department. He has played a major part in ruining careers of Kaneria and Sami, and now he is playing a major part in destroying Afridi’s career. He dropped 3 catches off Afridi this series. Again, most international commentators, from Robin Jackman, to Tony Creig to Dominic Cork have been highly critical of Akmal’s keeping and puzzled as to why Sarfraz Ahmed is not being encouraged, yet we keep seeing Akmal again and again. I remember how Jackman and Ian Bishop in some series kept asking Waqar Younis and Ramiz Raja, “Why is Sarfraz not being played?” and “What is he doing sitting on the bench?” but
Ramiz and Waqar provided no answers.
Speaking of Ramiz and Waqar, what is their problem anyway? They have been silent on criticising Malik and giving Akmal his due. Isn’t the job of a commentator to be neutral and call a spade, a spade? Ramiz Raja on his TV show frequently supports Malik and Akmal when discussing cricket with his friends. Ramiz is usually Pakistan’s only saving grace in the commentary box with his suave appearance, reasonably good command of English and wit, yet observing his bias is an unpleasant experience.
It will be unfair to square the blame only on Malik and Akmal, but these two players have definitely tried their best to demoralise the team owing to their constant failures in their respective roles. Shahid Afridi risks being dropped permanently after failing to shine with both ball and bat, although Akmal’s lack of support behind the stumps has dented Afridi’s confidence completely. Yet, most fans expected better from Afridi this series. Shoaib Akhtar was thought to make a difference in this series, but he was the worst bowler and let the team down completely. For over a year Javed A Khan and myself have asked for Shoaib to be sacked from the team, yet Shoaib has many admirers who have lived in denial and accused myself and Javed A Khan for making these statements for controversial reasons. Yet, Javed A Khan and myself have always been on the dot with Shoaib’s performance and attitude. He is history.
The team needs someone like Fawad Alam, who is mature, left
handed and can provide some stability in the middle order. Ever since the ABN AMRO T20 Cup in 2006, Fawad has been imperious in domestic cricket. He is unique in the sense that apart from Misbah he is the only player averaging more than 40 in all forms of domestic cricket in Pakistan. Nothing is guaranteed in life except death and taxes, and there is no guarantee Fawad will become the next Brian Lara. But, as far as deserving chances to perform goes, no player deserves it more than Fawad Alam.
Fawad Alam’s stats compared with other batsmen:
Name Format Average
Shoaib Malik First Class (4 day) 29
Shoaib Malik List A (one day) 39
Shoaib Malik T20 42
Younis Khan First class 51
Younis Khan List A 35
Younis Khan T20 25
Misbah ul Haq First class 51
Misbah ul Haq List A 46
Misbah ul Haq T20 43
Mohd Yousuf first class 51
Mohd Yousuf List A 41
Mohd Yousuf T20 17
Fawad Alam First class 57
Fawad Alam List A 44
Fawad Alam T20 41
Hence, you can see Fawad Alam generally has better stats than everyone except Misbah ul Haq,
and compared to Misbah he has a higher first class average.
In conlusion, enough is enough and a revamp is definitely needed. PCB needs to stop destroying cricket and use the right players. Akmal needs to be replaced by Sarfraz Ahmed, Malik needs to be replaced by Fawad Alam and Shahid Afridi needs to be kept on his toes. The PCB will not make Afridi the captain, so perhaps it is in Afridi’s best interests to resign from international cricket rather than face the humiliation of being sacked permanently. With Younis still confused about captaincy and Misbah suffering from finding his role in the team and inconsistency, Umar Gul is perhaps the best option for captaincy, as he is the only player with a defined role, proven track record and required aggression and commitment. So, my vote for Pakistan’s future captain is Umar Gul. He should hope, however, that Akmal doesn’t start dropping catches off his bowling too!