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Cricket fiasco – blame it on the players

Cricket fiasco – blame it on the players

Pakistanis are fuming at the dismal performance of their cricket team. They want heads to roll. They are passionate about the game, they worship their cricket stars like demi-gods, every cricket fan is an expert with firm opinions on what’s what, and they hate losing. Period.

But let’s consider some facts and answer some questions honestly.

Who is responsible for the infighting between coach Waqar Younis and frontline batsmen Ahmed Shahzad and Umer Akmal?

Who is to blame for the lack of tactical consultation and coordination between coach Waqar and captain Shahid Afridi?

Who created unnecessary controversies in the dressing room that sapped the morale of the players?

Why couldn’t the coach keep his flock in line like a good shepherd?

Why couldn’t the captain exercise knowledge of tactics and strategy?

Of course, the selectors picked Shahzad and Akmal. Both are brilliant but mercurial players. And the selectors were themselves unanimously picked by a committee that included three eminent ex-Test cricketers.

Except for Waqar, every cricket expert, including captain Afridi, desperately wanted both players on board.

Waqar, it may be recalled, was himself selected by a cricket committee appointed by ex-chairman Zaka Ashraf two years ago.

It was headed by Wasim Akram and included Javed Miandad and Intikhab Alam. The decision was widely hailed.

So who is to blame for the team’s defeat if not current and ex-cricketers of repute?

It is good that people now have the courage to publicly reflect on the cricketing merits of Shahid Afridi — both as captain and player — at the fag end of his brilliant career.

Until now, he was the untouchable superstar whose foibles on the field and statements off it would have been cannon fodder for the media if he had been a lesser god.

Indeed, last summer, when the ODI team under Misbah was doing badly during the series against Australia and then New Zealand, the media experts were rooting for Afridi to take over.

When the PCB duly complied and Misbah sat out two matches, Afridi lost both matches. But no one went to town against him.

Now the gloves are off. Intikhab Alam says Afridi is “absolutely clueless” about the requirements of captaincy.

Much the same sort of comment has come from top international players.

Everyone and Charlie’s Aunt are now suddenly agreed that Afridi is not captain material.

So our media experts are belatedly falling in line.

Whose fault is it that Afridi was first made a superhero and then dragged to the ground like a fallen statue?

Thankfully, ex-Test captain Rashid Latif spoke up recently in an article in which he surgically dissected the tactical failings of the coach, captain, key players and selection committee on tour, coupled with needless controversies triggered by the players and hyped by the media, as decisive factors in our defeat.

There wasn’t a word against the PCB in his article, even though, generally speaking, he has no love lost for its management.

Why, then, is this chorus of media experts and ex-Test players demanding “a sweeping revamp” of the PCB?

Nowhere in the world is there such an outburst against the Board when a team loses or goes through a rough patch or when great players fade away due to age and the youngsters are still in the process of being groomed, tried and tested.

Let’s admit some facts and realities. Ex-chief selector Iqbal Qasim once bluntly said that “contrary to the public and media perception there isn’t much talent knocking on our doors”.

How right he was. Forget the era of Zaheer Abbas and Majid Khan. There isn’t anyone in the team, save Misbah and Younis, who can remotely compare with the great players of yesteryear like Imran, Miandad, Inzamam, Yousuf, Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, Moin, Qadir, etc.

But then the greats of yesteryear, like Misbah and Younis today, would not have qualified for a modern T20 team even in their time.

Let’s face it. We are not geared up for T20 cricket. When ICC members like Britain, Australia, India and South Africa went about establishing international T20 Leagues to quench the public’s thirst for a quick fix, previous PCB chairmen sat contemplating their navels for long seven years, bemoaning the fact that the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team in 2009 had stopped them from holding such a league.

Then the current PCB bosses came along and, despite the multitude of aggressive naysayers, showed how such a league could be successfully organised outside Pakistan and pave the way for T20 talent to rise to the surface in time to come.

But instead of appreciating its dynamic initiative and waiting for the fruits of PSL to ripen, the PCB is being brick batted for the team’s failures.

This is not fair.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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