Posts Tagged politics and sport

DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T

Miracle man? Good player? Useless player?

The title of this thread must be the story of Fawad Alam’s career.

In the T20 match against Australia, Fawad Alam took 2 catches quite safely which was a complete contrast to how Salman Butt and Misbah fielded. Then, he came into bat when 71 runs were needed off 30 balls and managed 16 runs from 11 balls including one sixer. He came into bat at no 8, just before the tailenders, Sami, Aamer and Ajmal.

Generally some regional-minded/biased people accuse Fawad Alam of being a usless batsman because of his so-called inability to hit boundaries and inability to “win matches”. Yet, all logic, reason, fairness is swept under the carpet in his criticism. Whereas I ignore the biased representations of these people who want to see more of Malik, Misbah and Butt and less of Alam, Afridi and Younis etc, it is quite concerning that some fairer and more educated people have started losing patience with Fawad Alam. This thread is aimed at them.

In ODI’s, Alam has played 459 deliveries in 15 innings. That is an average of under 31 balls per match. It must be noted that Alam does not play as a pinch hitter, but as a run accumulator and facilitator. If we compare the balls Alam has faced to the balls other batsmen have faced per match, this is what we get:

Butt- 46 balls/match, Umer Akmal- 40 balls/match, Misbah- 38 balls/match, Malik-38 balls/match, Younis-39 balls/match, Yousuf- 48 balls/match…

In T20’s, the comparison is thus:

Butt- 23 balls, U Akmal- 24 balls, Misbah- 22, Younis- 17, Malik- 18, F Alam- 10

So, we have now established that Alam plays less balls per match than all of Pakistan’s main batsmen.

In 15 ODI innings, Alam has played at the batting position no 6 or below, 12 times. In T20’s he has played 13 innings and has batted at no 6 or below, 11 times. So it is established that Alam is usually sent to bat lower down the order and does not get the opportunity to face many balls, yet why is so much expected of him? Why is he expected to create miracles when no one is bothered to respect his abilities first? This applies not only to the team management, but also to commentators and bloggers.

In terms of what Fawad Alam has done in his very short career:

1) He hit 3 sixes in 5 balls and played a match winning knock against Sri Lanka in Canada

2) He hit 168 in a debut knock on a seaming track, the next highest score in the match from Pakistan was 82 by Younis and then barely anyone else could reach 25 on that pitch. He hit a six when he was on 92, he played that knock with a strike rate of 66.

3) He played valuable T20 and ODI knocks against Sri Lanka and India, assisting players like Malik, Misbah and Akmal on at least 1 occasion each in finishing matches

4) He played a determined knock against England, complementing Razzaq very well. Those who saw the match knew Pakistan could not have won without his contribution.

5) He took an excellent catch off Umer Gul, and then effected a brilliant run out in a recent match which changed momentum for Pakistan in that game (I forget who the opposition was). After his spirited effort Pakistani bowlers and fielders looked rejuvenated and performed well.

The above is not a comprehensive list by any means. The point is that in his relatively short career he has already shone on a few occasions, but why don’t people recognise this? I can’t remember 5 occasions when Butt, Malik or Misbah did something amazing in their long careers. Not only have these 3 failed miserably as batsmen most of the times, they have also let the team down by virtue of their fielding. Somehow critics expect Alam to achieve feats even Tendulkar and Lara and incapable of achieving, but at the same time find Butt, Misbah and Malik’s constant selection (Malik’s, until very recently) understandable?

It was clear that Pakistan lost this match against Australia because of Misbah’s and Butt’s fielding, yet why did people have to question Fawad’s handling of this period when 70+ runs were needed of 30 balls and no other recognised batsman was there to support him?

Fawad Alam is an asset for the team because of a number of reasons:

1) He can play under pressure

2) He keeps the strike rotating

3) He is an excellent fielder

4) He plays with determination, he appears modest and does not have a big mouth or ego

Every player in international limited overs cricket must be assessed on a “net utility” basis. The player’s all round capabilities must be observed simply because international cricket has become a high stakes and competitive game. If a player makes 35 runs regularly, but then gives away 10 runs because of his poor fielding, then that player’s worth to the team is really only 25 runs. In my mind given the chance Alam is capable of batting better than players like Misbah and Malik. That coupled with his fielding, makes his net utility very high, and as such a very valuable player for the team.

Amidst the pinch hitters (Afridi, Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Akmal, Razzaq) , slow players (Butt) and selfish players (Misbah, Malik) you need to have someone who can rotate the strike and occasionally put the bad ball away for a boundary, someone who can take pressure off by taking quick singles and doubles etc. If Alam is properly utilised he can become a great player- the problem is that due to policies of bias and favouritism he is not getting chances to perform.

The travesty is that, we expect Alam to do something which is his weakest point- hit 4s and 6s regularly and convert losing causes into winning results. It is this travesty that is destroying the career of a potentially great cricketer for Pakistan.

A viictim not just of politics and favouritism, but also of ill judgement and lack of logic

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CRICKET THREATENED BY EXTREMISM

IPL ignored and humiliated Pakistani players in the most malicious manner possible. The Indian authorities gave the following reasons, however most people believe them to be petty excuses:

1) Potential difficulty in issuing visas would mean that Pakistani players should have been sidelined

2) Many of the world’s top cricketers were also left out

3) There were threats from some politicians, Shiv Sena and like minded extremists

Indian Home Minister Chidambaram has confirmed that the Indian government had no say in what happened

Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umer Akmal, Umar Gul etc are amongst the best T20 players in the world, so what was the justification of sidelining them in this manner? Indian government spokesperson Chidambaram clearly defended the government saying that the issuing of visas was not a problem from the Indian side.

The immense confusion and blame game makes it seem like every stakeholder, be it the government, the movie stars or the administrators, has a guilty conscience and no one is brave enough to come out in the open and declare that this was a jingoistic and politically motivated decision.

Shahrukh Khan, hailing from the Pakistani province of NWFP,

Shahrukh Khan's comments were brave considering his religion, ethnic background and place of residence, Mumbai, which is also the centre of the extremist Shiv Sena

gave the boldest statement from an Indian’s perspective saying that politics should not be involved in sport. His comments have been perceived very negatively by Hindu extremists in India, most notably the Shiv Sena who have threatened to not release his upcoming movie, “My Name is Khan”, in Mumbai. They

Extremist Shiv Sena have also threatened Australian players

have also said that if he wants the Pakistanis to play cricket, he should go to Lahore or Islamabad.

Apparently there have been negotiations between Shahrukh Khan and IPL organisers where Khan has convinced some of the organisers to invite Pakistani players. Afridi and Razzaq expressed their interest in playing IPL after this fiasco, however it was disappointing to see a player like Afridi who frequently refers to pride playing for Pakistan, succumb to the temptation of money like this.

Afridi disappointed many fans by saying he would forgive the IPL and participate in the contest

Ijaz Butt was seemed confused and directionless to begin with, but now the PCB has made the right decision by banning IPL participation by Pakistanis for 2010. This comes as a blessing in disguise because if these players had participated in IPL, a lot of Indians as well as Pakistanis themselves would have considered these players are some kind of prostitutes who have no self esteem, and can do anything for money.

It is time for these cricketers to realise that their country comes first.

Wasim, your country needs you

The travesty is that Pakistanis are so cricket crazy that all of these famous cricketers can still lead glamorous and luxurious lives in Pakistan, but they surrender themselves to greed which is why they lose self esteem. Someone like Wasim Akram can make such a huge difference if he becomes involved in academies in Pakistan, but Wasim is more interested making money in India.

This thread is not about jingoism, or an eye for an eye. It is about sending a clear message to Pakistani cricketers that they need to develop some pride. Also, this thread is a lesson for those who believe politics should be involved with sport. Pakistanis need to send a clear message across the border that they have had enough with this constant mixing of politics and sport. Cricket must never be threatened by the whims of some cowardly, hate-filled extremists.

This thread is also not an attack on India. Like most Pakistanis, most Indians are also peace loving people who want to build strong relations with others. Whoever was behind this devious scheme to humiliate Pakistan has received a slap on their face, since most Indians even have criticised this decision.

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