“The Audacity of Hope” is an international bestseller book that was written by Barack Hussain Obama in 2006. It explains his rise amongst the ranks in American politics. 20 minutes after he gave his memorable speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, many experts were already predicting he could be a future President. The “audacity of hope” is Obama’s phrase to describe “hope” and how it can make an individial or country overcome any odds and become prominent in the world.
There is no hope for the Pakistan Test team as Pakistan have already lost this Test series which they could have won had they been playing with a middle order that could play the new ball (Pakistan lost both Tests because the lower middle order could not handle the new ball). Also, Pakistan would be in a better position if the middle order was not playing politics based on jealousy and regionalism. Pakistan is likely to win this Test but it seems inconsequential because they lost the first 2 Tests in disappointing fashion.
Malik made a potentially match winning century but why did such a gallant effort come from him after Pakistan lost the series? And why has Malik made a habit of performing when Pakistan has already lost and his place is on the line? If Malik and Misbah face problems with the new ball, why are they playing Test cricket and why are they batting at no 5 and no 6 which is when it is very likely a player may face the new ball? No one can answer these questions. In Test cricket, every player in the XI needs to be of a certain calibre and must have a role. Consistency is not good enough in Test cricket unless one is making 50s and 100s consistently. Malik and Misbah make 30s and 40s consistently but that is simply not good enough.
Such is this audacity of mediocrity, that these two players are very clearly not suited to their batting positions and roles, yet they continue to plague the team. One wonders what would happen if Shahid Afridi had been in the Test squad? What would the team composition have been in the 1st Test? Manzoor would have been dropped and Malik would have opened with Butt. Afridi would have played at no 6. However, there are serious problems there as Malik refused to open in the 2nd Test, which is why the position went to Fawad Alam. Many people do not consider Afridi to be a Test player but the fact is that if Afridi is in the squad, Malik would have to open, or he would have to sit out. Such is the audacity of talent, commitment and hope. Afridi exudes hope whereas Malik does not, despite question marks over Afridi’s Test calibre.
Whoever thinks any Test team can survive on the basis of T2o reputation is living in fools’ paradise. What people don’t realise is that 4 day cricket at domestic level develops skills in players that should in theory, show in ODI’s and Tests. We have spoken about this before but Malik averages 29.54 in first class cricket which is lower than any recognised batsman in the Pakistan squad. If the Pakistan Test team is going to deteriorate, then the results will show in ODI’s, too. Test cricket is the format where a player develops mental strength and that extra “push” that is needed to perform flawlessly and consistently in ALL formats. It is because Younis Khan is a class player at Test level that he was able to be amongst Pakistan’s best batsmen in the T20 Cup despite not being an expert T20 player at domestic level.
Now the worry for Pakistan is that in 2 years, Younis and Yousuf are bound to retire. Younis has already admitted he is 34, and Yousuf’s official age is 34, too. What will happen to this team when there is no Younis and Yousuf? Pakistan is dangerously heading towards that position where it will be a pathetic Test team. The middle order is the team’s backbone, and without a backbone a creature becomes slimy, gooey and spineless- a bit like Shoaib Malik. So the Pakistan Test team will become Shoaib Malik in 2 years if Malik and Misbah are not removed asap.
What we say about Malik and Misbah is said with a lot of passion, good intentions, good judgement, statistics,
expertise, hindsight, foresight, common sense etc. Now it is upto fans and the PCB to take notice of this and remove this abomination of mediocrity from the Test team. Why does it matter so much what we say? Because we say a lot about “what will happen” in Pakistan and the Pakistani team- we discuss players, strategies, politics etc and our predictions are almost always right. So dissidents should shut up, with all due respect, and think about the future of cricket and abandon emotions of regionalism, jealousy and ego. Malik has been playing Test cricket for 8 years and he has not developed a role yet. He is not good as opener, he is not good as a middle order batsman, he is pathetic as a bowler, and worst of all, he can’t play the new ball. And he was made captain of the team and even now people say he should not be dropped because he is the former captain and he should not be disrespected.
Such is the audacity of mediocrity.
Javed A Khan wrote an insightful thread recently, titled, “Leaders, Team Players and Nothing Players”. People can ask Javed A Khan, Awas, or myself, how can Pakistan be rescued because there are not many leaders or team players? Our answer would be simple- drop the nothing players, for it is they who are coming in the way of producing good leaders and team players.
Such is the audacity of hope.