Archive for November, 2011
Recently there was some discussion on this blog regarding Tendulkar. Tendulkar’s performances of late have been below average and although he has been amongst the top 10 scorers in Test cricket in 2011, by his own standards he was a disappointment, especially in England. Throughout his career Tendulkar has been accused of selfish batting and inability to rescue the team of a situation of crisis. This can be debated by fans endlessly but there is little doubt that whereas one remembers players like Lara playing out of their skins to rescue West Indies, Tendulkar has perhaps never played knocks with such determination and pressure handling ability.
Speaking of determination and pressure handling ability Michael Clarke stunned the cricket world by producing a career best knock on a difficult pitch against Steyn and Morkel. Clarke refused to bow under pressure and adopted an attacking approach. It was a magical knock by Clarke because he treated South Africa with disdain and beneath his extravagant strokeplay you could see this Australian psyche of, “Never say die,” which we have mentioned many times on this blog. This psyche is a product of the Steve Waugh era where Australians decided that the only way to dominate was to attack and refuse to give up.
Speaking of attacking, Pakistan cricket refuses to creep out of his abyss of negativity that years of poor selection and management have left behind. At the moment PCB is talking about rebuilding and somehow they have discovered that, defensive batting and defensive field placements will lead to rebuilding. Misbah is nearing retirement and luck has favoured him because he might never play Tests on green tops or against good bowling teams. Misbah did well against New Zealand some time ago where the pitches are often green and conditions are conducive to seam and swing, but NZ bowling is mediocre and other batsmen considered lesser than Misbah also made an impact on that tour.
This thread is centred on Younis Khan’s ODI career. How ironic that Imran Khan, an individual who
bemoans poor decision making and “ad-hoc ism” in PCB suggested that Younis should bat at no 3. This worked to an extent in Tests but it just did not work in ODI’s for various reasons. Younis bats between batting position 4 and 6 in domestic cricket and this was his natural position before he was promoted to no 3. Younis can hit big shots, but his expertise is in building innings whilst occasionally preferring to take the aerial route with his strokes. Expecting Younis to adopt the role of makeshift opener, which he has now done for most of his career, was total folly on part of the PCB. The reason why Younis has stuck to this no 3 position is that barely anyone else will vouch to play in that precarious position.
Pakistan has always juggled with the likes of players who play riskily (Afridi, Hafeez, Imran Nazir), players who can defend but just don’t defend well enough (Taufeeq, Butt) and players who can’t do anything well enough and play because of nepotism (Farhat) as far as the openers’ slot is considered. Due to this pathetic situation they needed a scapegoat and patsy who would play the role of semi attacker, semi makeshift opener who sees off the new ball and semi innings builder. They got Younis Khan to perform this strange role and because Younis is expected to do so many things, he has never been able to excel in any one area as far as ODI’s are concerned.
Younis Khan is a proud Pathan and has few enemies because of his easy going personality. But, sometimes you have to put your foot down and put people in their place. Younis is a yes man and this is apparent from the way he is subservient to every cricket administration (except for when he is captain, as the incident with Shaharyar Khan proved). A person is the best judge of his own ability so my question is, why could Younis not put his foot down and demand to play below no 3? Doing so would mean that he becomes a politician and loses his selflessness, but ultimately Pakistan cricket would have been the winner because someone more suited to that position would have been utilised.
Pakistan never had a specialist ODI batsman at no 3- this is because of the complicated and overly demanding nature this role has in Pakistan cricket. PCB is looking for candidates who can fulfil dual or more than two roles in the opening position. They are not happy with attackers (Afridi, Nazir) and they are not happy with defenders which is why they will not use someone like Azhar Ali in that position. Unfortunately Pakistan cricket is not so developed that you can have the perfect dangerous combination like an attacking Sehwag and someone like Gambhir who can attack and defend according to the situation. Australia also use such an approach with Watson and Hughes. They also used this approach with Gilchrist and Hayden. South Africa have Smith and Amla. Every young batsman England is producing seems to know how to hit boundaries and they have Cook and Strauss to absorb pressure and defend from the other end.
So, why not use this approach?
These problems circulate in a vicious circle and the end result is that someone like Younis, who is talented, ends with an average of early 30s in ODI’s. Younis could easily have averaged 40 if he was allowed the same liberty that was afforded to Inzamam and Misbah, of having a much clearer objective when they come out to bat. Younis can play swing and spin better than Misbah and Inzamam and unlike them, he likes to take the fast bowlers on. Inzamam may have been very good against raw pace but he never looked convincing against swing.
The treatment of Younis has been a disaster for Pakistan cricket because firstly, had Younis been handled appropriately he would have made a lot more runs and secondly Pakistan would have had a very good run accumulator/match winner in their ODI middle order.
Umar Akmal may have attitude problems but PCB started admonishing him too early for his aggressive approach (the downside of which was that he could not bat responsibly) and the result was that U Akmal’s performance declined further. It would have been better to let him figure out his flaws because he could make 30-35 runs quickly and this sort of performance is crucial when someone is batting with the likes of Misbah and Asad Shafiq who find it hard to score quickly.
Due to lack of education and nepotism the decision makers have ruined Pakistan cricket. Somehow these ex cricketers who are uneducated and uncouth with a big question mark over their integrity and ability keep obtaining positions of responsibility and the result seems to be constant decline for Pakistan. There is no imagination and no aggressive mindset. What a pathetic situation we have seen recently with Misbah’s captaincy that matches that could have been won turned out to be draws!
To conclude, it is accepted that Pakistan don’t have a Tendulkar or Lara and their cricket is not developed enough to produce a Clarke, but with given resources they can perform much better. It just takes some good intent, unbiased decision making and some imagination. The example of Younis Khan should teach the PCB to opt for educated administrators and managers who can steer Pakistan cricket out of disaster by favouring aggression over defence and imagination over inactivity. This means getting rid of Misbah and Mohsin Khan, getting rid of Imran Farhat and Malik etc. If you look at the successful captains of the modern era- starting with Nasser Hussein, then Vaughan, Ganguly, Dhoni, Afridi etc, they always used the aggressive psyche and they were extremely imaginative and proactive with batting orders and field placements. What we are seeing with Pakistan cricket is just a temporary calm and some stability using a defensive approach to battle minnows, but this plan of action will not “rebuild” the team and it is not a step forward.
The century that Tendulkar will perhaps never make is creating more noise than the ones he made. Why is this happening? Because he is a player who plays for records, a great player who plays for himself and not for the team or the country and what do you call such a person? “It is below his so-called DIGNITY to call him a selfish player” his dignity, his vanity and his pride is much higher than the country’s pride and that is because he is considered as a deity in his country. When a man is worshiped like a deity then instead of him becoming strong, he becomes weak. At a time or, at a level he gets scared that he is failing his followers and his fans and tries very hard to get or achieve the goal and keeps on failing every now and then. That makes everyone believe that he is afraid of reaching the milestone – there are already many milestones in his life and yet he is afraid in achieving this.
What was wrong in Shoaib Akhtar writing a line in his controversial book that Tendulkar was once afraid of him? It was like Akhtar throwing a stone in a beehive, the whole of India was after Akhtar and not only they attacked him, but they canceled the launching of his book in 5 major cities of India even, people like LataMangeshkar the squeaky singer tried to wrestle with her dead vocal cords and blabbed out that Akhtar has no right to pass such derogatory comments about their god? What was that derogatory comment? He only said, Sachin was once scared of him. If a 5.7 ounces red cherry weighing about 160g. in weight zoom pasts your head at 100 miles per hour speed, one is likely to take evasive action, it is normal. Just because Tendulkar is considered as a god he is above all these trivialities? If he is such a great maestro then why is he struggling against so many teams since the last one year to accomplish his life time goal? His strike rate is pathetic, his scores are pathetic and yet he is getting a chance to play because he is 10 – DullKar and he is in the team because of his past glories.
I am not saying he will not make his hundredth hundred, eventually he will but at what expense? Is there any respect left in telling that this great little master-bater is struggling for runs and that is because he is afraid in his nineties. Even his son told him, Dad why do you get stuck into 90’s? Are you scared? I will tell you something: don’t stay in the 90’s just hit a couple of fours and a six and you will be out of the 90’s. These may not be the exact words but, he did say something on those lines and I wonder what Tendulkar must have told him? May be he said, my son I am not your uncle Sehwag or that Crazy Afridi and I don’t have those guts!
When Kapil Dev was close to breaking Sir Richard Hadlee’s world record, he was totally out of form in fact his bowling was “Disgustipatingly” Pathetic and in some matches he was not even getting a single wicket and yet they continued with him till he broke the record. There is something called grace, which is lacking here in case of Kapil Dev and Tendulkar both, one was and the other is still struggling and only God knows how much pressure they carry when there are so many and so much expectations from them?
Instead of scoring 76 at a strike rate of 51 if Tendulkar has scored that 76 in 51 balls, I would have said, at least he tried, he tried to play for the team and the country and did not bother about his records but, it was so obvious from the way he played in the first innings he was shaky and got out at 7 and to rebuild his image he went back into his shell ………… THIS IS NOT CRICKET…… this is MisBAket. If Misbah plays like that I can say that is what he is but Tendulkar has once again disappointed.
People specially Indian fans may not like my criticism because, it is not coming from within but, from outside. I am sure there are more Indians who are more disappointed then us and they follow him like a Ishwar and Parmeshwar and in the recent WC in India, one of his fans committed suicide by hanging himself only because Tendulkar did not score a century and the deceased has high hopes that his master will score a century and when he failed him, he was so ashamed that he took his own life.
In my opinion, neither the people nor the player himself should take this seriously, a game is a game is a game – its not everything, its not your life, it is not somebody’s else life that he kills himself for a trivial thing. One thing is for sure, the BCCI and its selectors will keep on selecting him till he makes that 100th 100. I hope Tendulkar is not suffering from primary or secondary hypertension but, he is suffering from the “white coat hypertension” which happens to patients when they see a doctor their BP goes up, in his case it is the umpires who wear white coats, when he sees them his BP goes up.
The more Tendulkar will delay in achieving this milestone, the more his ratings will go down among those who say Lara is better than Tendulkar or, Viv Richards is better than Tendulkar and even those who compare him with Sir Don Bradman would be compelled to believe that Don was Don and he cannot be compared with anyone because of his strike rate and his average.
It is time that our Indian fellow bloggers to come out and comment on this, defend him or curse him it is up to you but, silence is not the answer.
The storm is over, the punishment and sentence is announced, now lets analyze the situation from a different perspective.
All of us (including myself) are vicariously involved in the game of cricket to the extent that we take it very emotionally and feel the experience and get the thrills out of it, and when we are disappointed we get extremely upset. In this case we strongly believe that Asif, Aamir and Butt have disgraced the nation. “Qaom ka naam mitti may mila diya.” While saying this we were all emotional and “judge-baati” we didn’t even pause for a second to think that these “Three Musketeers” or any of the other lulloo, punjoo in the past is not capable of destroying the name of the nation or disgraced the nation by any of their stupid acts. In this case these three have accepted money from the bookies and agreed to fix the match, first most of us denied it and now a majority of us are ashamed and feel extremely disappointed.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that these three players or others in the past are insignificant in destroying or disgracing Pakistan, they are just a spec of dust that you will find in the vast ocean called – Pakistan. The country is much above these trivial and petty people, (imo, the only person who can disgrace the nation is, Asif Zardari who is a corrupt President of the country and he is elected by the people) no one else can disgrace Pakistan. Why should we expect a modicum of decency from this uneducated, uncouth and uncivilized players whom we have considered as Heroes and Gods?
The high school dropouts and those who cannot go to the college or the university, they take up sports as their career and are paid in millions and adored by millions and in some cases worshiped by millions. It shows our own lack of values and lack of confidence that we have developed in the past 2 – 3 decades, it is our own inability and incompetence in accepting these trivial people as our heroes. Think about it and think seriously, who do we place so much importance to these people? It is just a game and they are players and pawns used by others.
My biggest question is WHY BETTING IS LEGAL? Why not ban the betting houses? Why are these filthy rich people who have acquired money through illegal means are allowed to gamble openly and run a business on the so-called high streets of London? These are the people who have taken over the sports arena by storm and they are playing with illegal money to make more money through these pawns i.e., our heroes and our so-called gods.
It is not just in cricket and not just in Pakistan, but the world over, in every sport be it hockey, soccer, rugby there is an underground world which operates like a mafia, they buy and sell the players, they use them, they fix the matches through them to make more money – Chor hum sab hain, pakray jain tab – They walk away with money in their pockets and no one catches them, no one raises a finger at them, and then there is a small fry like Mazhar Majeed who falls like a prey in the hands of these culprits and the media wins the war.
The cheap Tabloid called, NOTW became the news of the whores because, they act like pimps and entrap players and use them the way they want. I am not supporting or showing sympathies towards Aamir, Asif, Butt and Majeed but, I am pointing out at the bigger culprits who are not known to the masses, they needs to be punished and betting houses needs to be eradicated for good.
The worst of all the sports is Boxing. Just imagine two guys frazzle out their brains and, they are mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and drained out and in some cases even die or become mentally challenged (Ali is an example) and there are billions of fans across the world who are cheering and applauding at them. And, for one boxer there is a manager, a coach, an agent, a financial adviser, a PR manager, a physio there is a whole shebang, a whole entourage of people who are also making money and then, there are bookies and gamblers making even more money. At whose expense? At the expense of those two lunatics who are frazzling their brains out and at our expense, we are paying them hundreds of millions of dollars through satellite TV in the name of entertainment.
I want our bloggers to write against the big gamblers, the real culprits, those who threat the players and the people, they should be punished and they must be condemned and the society must become free from such rogues, otherwise it will be a sad ending for some players. Look at the picture of Salman Butt which tells the whole story without a word being spoken.