GOOD FIELDING lifts the team morale and bad fielding does exactly the opposite. Catches win matches is the old expression it exists since the inception of the game and still holds good because, that is the truth. By taking wickets you slow down the run rate, by taking wickets the bowler’s tails are up. Good fielding is contagious, if one player takes an extraordinary catch the other tries to do better than his colleague and that is the spirit of the game. We have seen so many matches where a big partnership is ended by an extraordinary effort such as a brilliant catch or, a superb run-out and the momentum is shifted in favour of the fielding team. In case of Pakistan cricket team the fielding is the weakest department and catches are dropped like bird droppings from a fruit tree, easy run outs are missed as if it is a routine business.
The current team is playing without any strategy or even a proper planning. In a proper planning you have backup plans or, plan B. The T20 is such a short game that the situation changes in no time, if the plan A backfires you need to go for plan B or even plan C. That is not just the job of one man, the man on the spot is the captain but, the coach and manager are there to draft and forge that plan and keep reminding or sending messages to the captain to stick to the plan or to shift to the next plan. All the teams do this, they even send D/L update sheets to their batsmen on ground to keep them aware of how many runs are needed in this over or the next few overs to stay ahead of the target. But, in case of Pakistan you never see anyone carrying messages on to the field. The coach & co. are often shown sitting in the dugout with long, glum faces. Their body language is so negative that even the spectators and TV viewers get bad vibes. So, how can the players pull up themselves from a losing situation to a winning situation?
To add more pressure on the players, the PCB Chairman imposes himself almost everywhere at official expense and not only him there is a minister and a few of his chamchas and a few family members also arrive at official expense to have a party at the Caribbean. What is the need for Mr. Ijaz Butt to come and witness the tournament? How many Chairmen of other country cricket boards do we see in these tournaments or wherever their team is playing? I don’t reckon a single one. But, this is the curse that the country has to face that Ijaz Butt pokes his nose everywhere and the irony is no one can stop him. So far Ijaz Butt is the worst and yet the most powerful dictator chairman of the PCB under his reign Pakistan has gone from bad to worst. And, all because of his stubborn attitude combined with his uncouth, uncivilized and unprofessional approach.
We have seen that whenever the team loses a series or a tournament there are changes in the team, the first to go is the captain, lately a new trend has been established by the PCB to impose heavy fines on the players, such huge amounts that they cannot pay and then these fines, penalties and bans are waived and lifted to make a mockery of the nation. In other countries when there is a disaster or a failure happens the ministers or the top officials take the responsibility and resign immediately, but in Pakistan the minister of sports or the chairman of the PCB open their big mouth and butts against the captain, coach, manager and the players and penalize them. They consider themselves above the law. It is such a shame that the so called powerful media of Pakistan could do nothing to ouster Ijaz Butt.
Before the tournament there was almost a 5 week camp at Lahore, reportedly the team was going through rigorous physical training and fielding practice. The result of that excessive and strenuous training turned out to be negative for the team. It resulted in injuries to about 5 players and the T20 ace bowler Umar Gul was injured so badly during the training that he could not make it to the WC. There was absolutely no need for a burnout for players who have never done such rigorous training stretched over for such a long period of time. Five weeks is not a long time but, the timing of the program was wrong i.e., just before the big event you are taking such big risks for players who are lazy and lethargic and whose eating habits are way out of this world. If you look at Misbah ul Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Saeed Ajmal, Salman Butt and a few others in the past like Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam, Danish Kaneria etc., used to walk, it gives the impression that there is no energy, no spark and no desire to move fast. So, can you turn such people into Jonty Rhodes in 5 weeks?
Among the good fielders like, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik the youngster who seems to have a lot of energy and desire to excel is Mohammad Aamir. His body language is very positive and he seems to be very enthusiastic and is self motivated. He has taken some very good wickets right from the beginning of his short career, and his last over against Australia where he created a world record of 5 wickets in his maiden over. I wish if it was Australia batting second and they had a target to achieve and these 5 wickets in his over would have made a world of difference. However, it is still a great achievement. In yesterday’s match against England he bowled a great bouncer at Kevin Pietersen on the penultimate ball of his last over. It was such a good bouncer that shook KP completely because, at that stage only 2 runs were needed in 8 balls and the commentator (David Lloyd) said, start your car engines…… but, Aamir had not given up hope he bowled a fearsome bouncer at a well set batsman who was at 69* after the bouncer KP looked at the square leg umpire Billy Bowden, who is unique and a class character, generally doesn’t smile but makes others smile, he couldn’t help laughing at KP who was asking for mercy.
Tomorrow’s (Saturday)match between Pakistan and New Zealand is very crucial for both teams and Pakistan if they want to prove that they are late bloomers this is the last chance to fight back and defeat NZ convincingly so that they move ahead, if they lose then the match against South Africa would be like climbing the K-2 from the rear side, if they fail they have to face the wrath of Ijaz Butt.
The important question: Will Pakistan play the same team against New Zealand? Asif’s form is a big question mark. Sami bowled one bad over and there is a reason to it whereas, Asif bowled all his balls very badly. Jesse Ryder, McCullum, Guptil and Taylor will be pleased to see Asif bowling at them, it will be a suicide for Pakistan to play Asif with this kinda form especially on these tracks where there is no swing and no movement. Misbah cannot justify his place in the team with his gimmicks, antics and his sloppy fielding.
In my opinion Hammad Azam should replace Misbah and Sami to replace Asif. What is your opinion?