Posts Tagged PCB

A DIFFICULT TOUR FOR PAKISTAN

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Razzaq needs to realise that his bowling and fielding are not good enough for international standards

Pakistan faced defeat in the Asia Cup at the hands of India and Sri Lanka and as is the convention, they beat minnows Bangladesh by a substantial margin. There are whispers that the team is somehow improving under the new captain and coach. It is difficult to examine just how Pakistan improved, when their key bowlers Asif, Akhtar and Aamer failed to make a memorable impression. In terms of batting Pakistan were predictable- the openers were not up to the mark, Shoaib Malik was mediocre and Umar Akmal demonstrated his usual signs of measured competence. Pakistan’s main weakness was their fielding as usual.

Even though players like Razzaq, Butt, Ajmal, Malik etc have shown some improvement compared to how they used to field years ago, the problem Pakistan is facing is that the standard of fielding is not improving in line with how fielding has improved in countries like Sri Lanka, India and West Indies. This is sadly again due to the fact that, other teams are selecting players on the basis of their fielding ability and

Political selections such as that of Malik and Misbah have obviously prevented the selection of good players

then giving them exposure to cricket so that they can get better in other departments. At one time Pakistan could dismiss this strategy with minimal fuss because they had match winners like Anwar, Inzamam, Wasim, Waqar etc. But now for whatever reason the same calibre of players is not emerging, and therefore Pakistan needs to rethink its strategy. For example, Sri Lanka played Dilshan whose bowling was like Shoaib Malik’s when he started, and batting was like a tailender’s. But, he was in the team mainly due to his fielding and now he is one of the best batsmen in limited overs cricket. India used Suresh Raina who was also an expert fielder but then he improved his batting and has now become one of India’s most reliable players. Pakistan introduced Fawad Alam three years too late and he responded by playing some match winning knocks in T20, and an unprecedented century on a seaming track in Tests, but he has been sidelined due to politics. As a batsman and fielder both, Fawad was miles better than Dilshan and Raina (keeping in mind how they were when they started) but now his international cricket future is uncertain, simply because his countrymen would prefer to see someone like Shoaib Malik in the team rather than him.

The form of Pakistan's key bowlers is worrying

The Pakistan think tank cannot impose a system where merit is the main factor in selection, and Pakistan cricket is suffering because of this. An important tour lies ahead for this underperforming team, and if predictions are anything to go by Pakistan is likely to lose the Test series against England and Australia.

The summer weather in England so far this year has been drier than normal, and how much that would impact the pitches remains to be seen. It goes without saying that Pakistani bowlers would prefer bowling on England’s pitches compared to how they would have

Pakistan will miss the batting prowess of Yousuf and Younis

felt bowling on Sri Lankan pitches, but their batting on England’s pitches has never been satisfactory. The batting card for Pakistan on the tour of England should have read- S Butt, Yousuf, Younis, U Akmal, F Alam, S Afridi, but now three players from that card are not playing, which means that the batting has halved in strength. Naturally with drier weather, spin bowling becomes a useful option but Pakistan does not need to worry as much regarding their spin attack because Kaneria has experience in England, and Ajmal and Afridi are reliable.

Australia has shown improvement in T20 and this was clearly visible in the last T20 Cup. Pakistan showed some signs of concern in that Cup as they seemed to excel in neither bowling, batting or fielding. The signs are clearly ominous for Pakistan because they are not a force to be reckoned with in T20 anymore, they are worsening in ODI’s and they are weakest in Test cricket.

There are many challenges for Afridi- keeping the excellent batting form, uniting the team on a difficult tour, and devising some ingenious plans to produce winning results

Pakistan plays some country matches before their first T20 against Australia on 5th July. They will probably win the county matches and they may win against Australia in T20, but they need to put up a good fight in Tests. In fact they will probably be treating the Tests against Australia as a testing ground for the Tests against England.

What Pakistan should have learned for the T20 Cup and the Asia Cup, is that it needs an improvement in all areas- batting, bowling and fielding. Improvement does not come overnight, but ratings do not change overnight too and Pakistan has constantly plummeted in international ratings. After watching Pakistan lose to India in the Asia Cup, one should realise that Pakistan- India matches are not “50-50 chance” contests anymore- one team is clearly stronger than the other. Shahid Afridi will have to work some miracles to make his team put up a decent show against Australia in Tests- and to his misfortune he is pitted against the deplorable standard of fielding, political selections of undeserving players and pathetic management of the PCB of over a decade.

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A TALE OF TWO SHOAIBS

Pakistan cricket is in doldrums. Every passing day Ijaz Ahmed is plaguing Pakistan with his incompetence. One loses the will to fathom what exactly is the problem with the Patron in Chief of PCB and why there is a reluctance to change the PCB Chairman? The PCB’s stupidities are not amusing, shocking or funny anymore. They have frankly become

Critising Butt has become boring now, but what else can concerned journalists do?

boring.

The latest stupid shocker to have emerged from the PCB is the return of the 2 Shoaibs.Shoaib Akhtar is 34 on paper and not getting any younger. The last that was heard of Akhtar before he got selected for the Asia Cup was that he had participated in a domestic tournament and had apparently impressed the selectors. This is no big deal as Akhtar has a good record in domestic tournaments but somehow cannot remain fit during international matches.

One wonders if some strategy should be devised to handle the controversial Akhtar, perhaps one where he is not utilised for more than 3 overs in one spell. However this is easier said than done. Firstly, the Pakistani team management is not known for inventing effective strategies. Secondly, the whole bowling strategy would have to be centred around Akhtar and other

Watching Akhtar survive a series without fitness issues would be a miracle

bowlers may be disadvantaged as a result. Asif, Aamer, Afridi and Ajmal are good bowlers in their own right and their strengths and abilities must not be compromised insofar that Akhtar is being facilitated.

There is a saying, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.” One fails to understand why the Pakistani management takes so much liberties with bowling, when bowling is the least of Pakistan’s worries. When Akhtar gets unfit, the team morale suffers. Plus, Akhtar has issues with teammates like Asif and Afridi. Is it worth playing Akhtar? The Pakistan management keeps playing at least one of Malik and Misbah which weakens the batting, but they are not concerned with the batting! They want to fiddle with the already capable bolwing attack but they do not want to play deserving youngsters in the places of Malik and Misbah. All cricket commentators say that there are many bolwers like Mohammad Aamer in the domestic circuit, yet the PCB wants to play Akhtar instead of giving someone else a chance.

The allegations against the other Shoaib (Malik) are grave and longstanding. Malik is accused of creating factions in the

Lao barati! Bajao band baaja! Aaye Malak saab dulhey raaja.....

team ever since the departure of Inzamam. He is also accused of selfish batting and playing only for himself, not for the team. Despite countless newspaper reports and opinions of cricketers like Abdul Qadir, Sarfraz Nawaz, Afridi and Younis Khan, most people in Pakistan favour Malik’s inclusion in the team. Not only has Malik been blamed for regional bias in the selection of players when he was captain, he also admitted fixing a high profile domestic semi final match. It has been revealed that he refused to bat in a difficult position in a match when it was realised that the pitch was supporting bowlers. Yet, the PCB has excused Malik and he is well and truly back. What kind of justice is this?

Malik’s reinclusion in the team is conclusive evidence of that fact that, in Pakistan if you have connections you can be the biggest criminal, most incompetent, useless person but you will still be able to benefit from a depraved system.

Perhaps the reason why deserving players like Fawad Alam and Hammad Azam are ignored is that the selectors do not want to take risks for fear of losing their credibility. If players like Malik and Misbah fail then the selectors have this

The talented Hammad Azam will have to wait before he gets his chance

excuse that they selected experienced players and hence the fingers get pointed towards the players more than the selectors. This has to be the reason for this inexplicable selection of at least one of Malik and Misbah in every series?

Afridi claims he has remedied his problems with Malik and Akhtar and his team is united. Even if Malik and Akhtar perform in this series this cannot wash away their misdemeanours of yesteryears. The passionate Pakistani cricket fans deserve better than to see these 2 players back in action again.

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KAHANI PAKISTAN CRICKET BOARD KI…..

Indian soap operas took the world by storm about 10 years ago and since then, they have shown no signs of stopping. Their demonstration of lavish sets,  catharsis based around blood relations, turbulent love stories and family politics has changed the face of Asian entertainment. Indians, Pakistanis and Bengalis sit glued to their TV sets everyday, keen on knowing the progress of a relationship between 2 lovers, or a dispute between the mother in law and her daughter in law, or the nefarious motives of the villainous element of a family.
One of the features of these dramas is that a lot of their titles start with a “K”, as the producers believe it brings good fortune to them, a thought influenced by some tenet of Hindu spirituality. So, we decided to start this thread title with a “K”, hoping that it will bring good fortune to Pakistan cricket.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Pakistan cricket is not any less than an Indian soap opera, and the latest drama created by Ijaz Butt, Younis Khan and the revolting players in the team proves this. Younis Khan, called “Drama Khan” recently by Javed A Khan, has disappointed many of his fans firstly by his slipshod batting in ODI’s recently. Secondly, Younis Khan, troubled by the not-so-secret rebellion in the team and the pressure of playing in a high profile tournament such as the Champions Trophy, offered his resignation on the pretext that he was upset by match fixing allegations and “other matters” (these thought to be the certain dissenting players in the team).

Sure, it is accepted Younis Khan is a man of honour. But match fixing allegations have been part and parcel of Pakistan cricket since time immemorial. Younis could have condemned these accusations in strongest possible terms in front of Jamshed Khan Dasti, but the fact that he resigned made his reaction appear as extreme as the accusations that were levelled against his men. Younis received the sympathy of the nation and was reinstated as captain, however critics were right in predicting that this episode would divert attention away from Younis’s failure as a batsman and captain in the Champions Trophy.

Ijaz Butt is the comedian of Pakistan cricket and it is a wonder he is still Chairman of the PCB after repeated failures. Ijaz

Ijaz Butt- the comedian of this Drama

Butt’s standard of incompetence can be discerned from his unwillingness to sack Malik as captain just before Younis was appointed as captain (it took a Presidential order to convince Butt to remove Malik as captain). Also, recently Butt gave a statement that the English media should focus more on county cricket performances of Pakistanis. Butt gave Kaneria’s example to say that Kaneria has been ripping through line ups, and PCB should get the credit for these performances. However, maybe Butt should realise that even mediocre players like Yasir Arafat have been performing commendably in county cricket and international cricket is very different. If the PCB Chairman is going to make stupid statements like that, what will the world think of Pakistan and PCB? How long do we have to tolerate this incompetent, uncouth and uneducated man as the Chairman? The Pakistan Senate has already predicated that it seems Butt never went to college because he is running the PCB like a grocery shop.

There are villains in this Drama, too. Malik, Misbah and Akmal are playing politics apparently. As always, no direct names have been mentioned; there are only rumours and controversies. Yet it seems fishy Younis has openly stated that certain players have reservations with this captaincy and that there is some kind of disunity. In dramas and movies you see the villains perishing sooner or later, yet in this Drama, Malik and Akmal are still there in the team, vitiating team morale and almost encouraging mediocrity. It is sad jealousy and bias based around regionalism still affects the team after Pakistan as a country and as a cricket team has lost so much because of it. But, that is how it works in Pakastan.

Speaking of regionalism, the reaction of the Karachi lobby to Younis Khan’s resignation was extreme and unprecedented. The Karachi lobby was instrumental in the sacking of Malik and appointment of Younis Khan as captain, and it is thought the lobby also wants Afridi as the next captain of the Pakistan team. The anti-Punjab stance of this lobby is worrying although it is submitted that its intentions are to weaken regional influence in team selection.

Afridi is also playing a little drama of his own. For some reason Afridi has decided to temporarily quit Test cricket at a time when he is batting more sensibly than ever and his bowling has significantly matured. What has caused Afridi to make this ridiculous decision? Test cricket is dying in Pakistan and Afridi could have been an asset for the team.

Pakistan is the laughing stock of world cricket and this Drama must now end. The Chairman needs to go, the elements playing politics need to be removed. Malik needs to be sacked anyway because playing him means accepting mediocrity. Malik has recently given an interview saying that he will be selected for Pakistan’s next Test assignment. This is shocking considering that he is one of the reasons why Pakistan is considered a mediocre Test team. Younis Khan is unstable and unpredictable and a person of his temperament must not be captain. Now he wants to play T20 cricket again although earlier this year he was adamant T20 is not for him. Younis should set an example and retire from ODI cricket. Pakistan is pinning hopes on Shahid Afridi to lead the team and weed out mediocre players.

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