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Self-inflicted debacle in cricket


April 3, 2019

Australia has clean swept the ill-planned series and handed a comprehensive 5-0 defeat to dilapidated and leaderless Pakistani team, which must be now feeling devastated as a result of idiosyncrasies of managers of cricket in Pakistan. On the other hand this series must be a big morale boaster for the Aussies. In fact our imprudently conceived moves worked tremendously well in their favour.

The foolish experiment was bound to backfire. I don’t really know who was the real author of this tragedy but almost everyone, be it the heftily paid coaches or the honourable Chief Selector, contributed to the this debacle. All those who understand the intricacies of the game and who place prestige of Pakistan above political and other considerations arraigned the decision of resting the brilliant captain Sarfaraz and his five key players. Nowhere in the cricketing world are things handled like this. On the contrary, players are kept in constant match practice to build up form and rhythm of the players. They were rested to rust.

The people who matter kept asserting that it was just to test new talent. Ironically this team of "new talent" was handed over to a 38-year-old Shoaib Malik who has been well known in the past for his off-ground skills. He was probably sent as a captain, waiting in the wings, to finally sneak in as a permanent one, if results favoured. In spite of him being in and out of form, he has always kept a reserved permanent berth in Pakistan cricket team, thanks to a very powerful political lobby. The same lobby was active again.

There were a number of irrational experiments done affecting the careers of the much talked about "talents". Pacer Abbas who could be expected to excel and destroy opposite teams in overcast English cities with his lethal swing on green top wickets, was tested on Dubai’s dry and grassless wicket with full sun shining on the head. This is just one example of a long long list of follies committed under the directions of Mickey Arthur, Grant Flower and Azhar Mahmood. I really fail to fathom any contribution made by Azhar Mahmood so far, except sitting in the dressing room with a broad grin on his face. Both Shoaib Malik and stand-in captain Imad Waseem were more of UN silent observers in the field than real commanders. The overrated wicketkeeper Rizwan often virtually took over the command. The seriousness exhibited was not even that of a tournament match in Pakistan. The team was rudder-less with no well-conceived planning and no effective control on and off the field.

Can someone tell the cricket bosses that they have left almost 60 percent of the World Cup team in bruises, fully demoralised instead of building up their self confidence at this very critical juncture. They must do the repair operation and clean the cobwebs as soon as possible, before our chances of bringing the world cup home are completely destroyed. The Chief Selector should select 15 members and then hand them over to the captain and the tour selection committee instead of visiting and monitoring them on spot. No chief selector has ever done that before. Similarly, there is a dire need to replace the present lacklustre and mute manager with an effective and vibrant person, excelling in knowledge of cricket and administration of the team.

The authorities must remember we did bring the Champions Trophy from the same country in the same weather and pitch conditions two years back with what then was a "new look" team under the dynamic leadership of Sarfaraz Ahmed. Personal likes and dislikes cannot override national interest. One has to rise much above that for glory of the country. My two cents!! The writer is a former first-class cricketer, who led Sukkur Division in Patron's Trophy and also led Sindh police team

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