Posts Tagged Shahid Afridi

NEVER SAY DIE

How the Australians get this "Never Say Die" attitude is just as inexplicable as how Pakistani players can be so unpredictable

Millions of Pakistan cricket fans were left astounded by the events that occurred on 14 May 2010. Australia snatched the World Cup T20 semi final from Pakistan’s grasp and did the impossible.

One must wonder whether Australia’s miraculous victory was a product of good luck or a certain mental resilience that has defined global cricket domination for more than a decade. To say whether sheer skill, or sheer luck plays a part in T20 is a moot point that can lead to heated arguments between fans of the format, or purists who view it plainly as entertainment. One devles into arguments of philosophy regarding how “skill” is defined, or whether the ability to slog, constantly vary line and length, and create new shots can be considered as “skill”, too.

Apparently the Pakistan Cricket Board has attempted to employ the same techniques used by the Australian board as regards psychological coaching of players in order to inculcate some form of mental strength. However the PCB has missed a trick. Why is that Pakistan is always so vulnerable against the Australians? Ever since the 1999 World Cup final, Pakistan loses to Australia consistently even from winning positons.

Most Pakistanis are satisfied with the team’s performance and are commenting that, Pakistan reached the semi finals and put up a competitive show against a good team, Australia. But, I am not as optimistic. We seem to have forgotten that Pakistan is the best T20 team in the world with great T20 players like the Akmal brothers, Razzaq, Afridi, Ajmal etc. It must not be forgotten that Pakistan lost to teams like England and New Zealand but they were able to beat South Africa. T20 is more about luck than anything else, although we can argue the skills of players like Ajmal, Razzaq and Afridi are more suited to T20. I still feel that if Pakistan was mentally strong they could have reached the final.

Pakistan was playing with so many T20 specialists. It is worrisome now to consider that teams like England and Australia have demonstrated so much improvement in this format. Pakistan is unable to compete with these teams at Test level, and will we now see a situation that Pakistan will be relegated even in T20’s? People might accuse me of being sceptical but one must not forget that Pakistan just scraped through in the semis because of good luck. In the next World Cup if we see Pakistan performing the same way then it is fair to say that Pakistan will be completely marginalised from international cricket and will be accorded the same status as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, teams the ICC does not take seriously.

England and Australia have picked up upon how T20 is played. Going back into history, T20 originated in Karachi, at the Nazimabad ground in the 1970s. It spread like wildfire across the whole of Pakistan and then other countries took notice and played the format informally. T20 suited Pakistanis because the way cricket is played on the streets in Pakistan, slogging the ball is encouraged and no one wants to see batsmen who take singles and doubles or who plan think too much about their statistics. Also, Test cricket required discipline and good facilities which you cannot find very commonly in Pakistan. So, it was natural that Pakistanis excelled at this short format.

Shahid Afridi’s captaincy has evoked mixed reactions. Some people comment that he was too defensive, some people did not understand his constant shuffling of the batting order and bowling options. Yet, what Afridi has proved is that he is able to experiment and constantly try something new. This is a good quality and it must not be undermined. With time Afridi will improve but for now the PCB must continue with him as captain. The reason why Pakistan did not perform ideally in the first few matches was because of poor fielding and batting performance of Misbah, Umer Akmal, Hafeez and Afridi himself. Whether Pakistan’s performance in this Cup was good or bad, they must continue to work on their fielding as most of their fielders are still not world class.

This Cup was yet another failure for Misbah

Misbah ul Haq went into this Cup one of Pakistan’s 2 batting order backbones. Yet, his performance was pathetic. Even before this tournament the Legslip management criticised his selection (and have been doing so for 2 years) but Misbah somehow keeps being selected repeatedly. On the other hand, Fawad Alam is still not being provided with opportunities. Hopefully this Cup is a message for the PCB never to select Misbah, Hafeez and K Latif again. How many more matches will Misbah lose for Pakistan?

In conclusion, this Cup represents Australia’s resurgence in world cricket glory. The difference between the winner and loser in that memorable semi final was one team’s complacency and mental weakness and the other’s “Never Say Die” attitide. Australia took a dip for a few years in international cricket and many people commented that without McGrath, Warne, Hayden etc the team’s status would wither, yet the Aussies have shown that there is no alternative to mental strength. There is a certain level of self-belief, a certain mettle that can cause humans to create miracles.

And we witnessed a miracle at St Lucia on 14 May 2010.

A sight all too familiar in world cricket

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THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

Pakistan suffered one of its worst tour defeats at the hands of Australia. Pakistanis were completely outplayed in Tests and ODI’s and the tragedy was that they could not even win the lone T20. Chaos ensued during and after this forgettable, yet unforgettable series and grievous flaws were identified right from the top of PCB’s management to the Pakistan team’s on-field behaviour.

Butt is the laughing stock of the cricket world and under his leadership Pakistan cricket has gone from bad to worse

There are reports of turmoil within the PCB as Ijaz Butt has failed to change the culture of the PCB and in fact internal strife, mismanagement and incompetence levels have increased. Butt is under immense pressure to resign as it is alleged he is too old, incompetent and more concerned about running his private business than managing the cricket situation in the country. Since Butt has appeared on the cricket scene, the team has gone from bad to worse. There is no vision, no planning, and like his appointor, Asif Zardari, Butt is spending more time facing flak and responding (unconvincingly) to criticism than actually doing something positive to remedy the affliction the Pakistan team is experiencing.

On one hand Butt said that Yousuf was the wrong choice as captain of

Pathetic Yousuf thinks he captained well in Australia

the team for the Australia tour, but on the other hand he said there was no alternative. What kind of decision-making is this? Why was a younger player not appointed as a temporary captain? Yousuf proved to be a worse captain than anyone thought. Not only was he completely negative in everything that he did- batting, field placement, bowling changes, managing team morale etc, he also failed to win the respect of his team-mates, unlike Inzamam who was at least senior enough to obtain some respect from the juniors. It was also disheartening to see Yousuf openly condemning Butt’s running between the wickets and Manzoor’s technique. Interestingly, Butt proved to be Pakistan’s best batsmen in Tests and Manzoor probably played the best knock by a Pakistani in the Test series.

According to many news reports, Malik is the reason behind dirty regional politics in the team

At the same time as Butt’s inept management and Yousuf’s maladroit captaincy, there were reports of team disunity. Some reports went as far as suggesting that two camps were created in the team- the Karachi camp (thought to be led by Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi) and the Sialkot/Punjab camp led by Shoaib Malik. In fact some news suggested that the team manager had created a report on Shoaib Malik using politics to advance his camp’s interests. Whether any action is taken against Malik for this remains to be seen. Indeed, Malik captained Pakistan’s T20 match and although it was known Pakistan would provide a tough challenge to Australia in any circumstance, Malik’s captaincy has been hailed as “inspirational” and “attacking” by his misled supporters. The truth is that a club T20 team from Pakistan can provide a tough challenge to Australia in T20, yet somehow Malik’s supporters have forgotten this.

In such dire times, Pakistan needs a completely new and revolutionary strategy. As far as team

Umar Akmal is a gifted batsman and has a very good cricketing mind

Fawad has some technical batting problems, but he still impresses. He is the best fielder in the side and his batting and fielding impressed the Australians

performance is concerned, in Umar Akmal and Fawad Alam Pakistan found their best 2 ODI batsmen. This firstly proves that the much maligned Pakistani domestic structure can still produce good players. Secondly, this proves that for some reason or the other, the team’s main batsmen- Younis, Yousuf and Malik, are not up to the mark and must make way for juniors. When your best ODI batsmen are not your 4 or 5 most experienced batsmen, you know something is wrong with your team.

The horror seen in Butt’s time shows that a former cricketer is not necessarily a good administrator. Pakistan should appoint a management expert with good cricket acumen to lead the Board. In fact, the best way forward is probably to fire all former cricketers who are involved in running the show as all of these cricketers seem to have shady motives and personal grudges against each other, and an organisation cannot run successfully in this way.

Inti, it is no laughing matter that under your term as coach, Pakistan has become a very weak team, especially when chasing targets

A younger, fitter coach should be appointed. Pakistan should look beyond people like Intikhab Alam and should opt for a relatively low profile coach, perhaps from some regional academy. Pakistan has suffered too much and too long under Intikhab- his failure reflects in the fact that no improvements have been seen in the players. All the technical weaknesses remain, the standard of fielding is still poor, the bowlers are still getting injured relatively easily. The worst aspect is that mentally the Pakistan team has worsened under Intikhab, whereas when Inti was appointed he said mental strength would be one of his main areas of focus. Pakistan is losing Test matches from winning positions and it is looking increasingly vulnerable when chasing even modest targets.

Mediocrity is prevalent across the squad. Being mediocre is in some

Too many mediocre performers spoil the broth

ways worse than being pathetic, because a mediocre player makes 30 runs with some consistency to cement his position in the team, but is always focusing to remain in the team because he finds it so hard to make sizable scores, especially when the situation demands some character from a batsman. Similarly, bowlers like Rana and Rao survive on picking up 1 or 2 wickets here and there, or keeping the economy rate to under 4.5. Whereas, a pathetic or substandard player gets booted straightaway from the team. Shoaib Malik must not be tolerated anymore in the lineup. Similarly, Rana and Rao must be permanently banned from playing international cricket.

He can be very stupid sometimes, but his "outside the box" gameplay may well be what Pakistan cricket needs to survive

Afridi’s ball tampering incident was regrettable. However, whereas it has caused anger for many, many also see Afridi as someone who would be willing to think outside the box and who would be desperate to win matches for Pakistan. Although Afridi is not the brightest cricketer in the squad, he is very unlikely to tamper with the ball again. Afridi has received his penalty from the ICC and he must now be forgiven by the PCB and Pakistani public. Pakistan needs Afridi’s passionate captaincy and fighting spirit, and the fans should persuade the PCB to experiment with Afridi in all formats. Otherwise, Malik or Akmal will be appointed captain and Pakistan should not reward their consistently poor performances any longer.

Now the PCB must use their initiative and build a Test team with Younis, Yousuf, Afridi, U Akmal and Fawad Alam in the middle order. In ODI’s, Afridi, U Akmal and Alam must be the main batsmen and perhaps Butt will also improve his ODI form and become a significant cog in the wheel. In Umer Akmal and Fawad Alam Pakistan has found two exciting and talented players and now the PCB must look for more players like them.

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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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