Pakistan Cricket: Another debacle, what’s next?

By Muhammad Asif Khan

With high hopes the men in green embarked on a trip to Europe around a month before the historic Champions Trophy to get accustomed to the conditions. Even before leaving the country the boys were trained at Abbottabad – a relatively cooler place – to get the England like feel. However the first-leg exit from the prestigious tournament raised a lot of questions back home.

The selection for the Champions Trophy was dubbed as bold when experienced Younus Khan, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shehzad etc were left out while players like Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat were picked.

Before judging the inclusions and the ‘heavy’ exclusions lets get back to the time when the squad was actually being announced – before the champions’ trophy.

Younus Khan was terribly out of sorts, while Imran Farhat had scored 93 and 13 in the last two one-dayers he played against South Africa in March this year. Shoaib Malik, on the other hand, played all five ODIs in South Africa and managed 28, 19*, 4, 35* and 19.

In Younus Khan’s absence, the strongest contender for Malik’s spot was Shahid Afridi who had not been in a good run of form and afterwards, he did not turn up for the mandatory fitness test too. On the other hand, Malik, after sensing the situation may be, flew down all the way from Germany to go through the fitness test.

In Afridi’s case, he might have been informed about his fate in advance; hence he decided to stay away from the [unnecessary] fitness examination. (This is my assumption only).

I am just trying to read the minds of the selectors here. They might have preferred Malik over Afridi on the account that without Malik the middle & the later middle order [minus Younus & Afridi] would look less-experienced.

Again, please don’t jump to the post champions’ trophy situation, just stay at the time when the team, for the all important event, was being constituted.

Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad are the two men who were referred to the physiologist, by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently. The question was, were they cleared for selection by the PCB?

Now I have reached a point where the CT squad was finalised and the phase of preparation had begun. The bowlers, picked for the tournament, were given a better opportunity to gear up for the challenge. The assistance of Wasim Akram at the camp in Karachi and later in Abbottabad worked well with them but what was done for the batsmen? Instead of hiring Trent Woodhill (for the stay in England only) the services of Javed Miandad, Inzamamul Haq etc were snubbed for some strange reasons. Who persuaded the chairman Zaka Ashraf for this move should also be identified.

Inzamamul Haq’s services were utilised, prior to the India tour, but later he was sidelined for unknown reasons. Some media reports suggested a deadlock between the two parties over the money but even then if Trent Woodhill can be paid for a few days then why can’t Inzamam be treated in the same fashion?

Another guy is the legendry Javed Miandad whose skills are not hidden from anyone.  Mr. Miandad has repeatedly said that he was not utilised to his likings, then the question is that why had he been sticking to the post of the Director General for more than three years then? What plan had he prepared to groom young batsmen so far? If he had drafted some sort of strategy then where is the implementation? If his suggestions were not taken seriously then why is he on the post still?

The same question is for the in-charge of the National Cricket Academy (NCA), Intikhab Alam as well.

The champions trophy has ended for Pakistan as the men in green suffered back to back defeats. A lot has been written on the team’s performance and I have nothing fresh to pen, however my worry is the future where the selection committee will have to face a dilemma.

As per the ICC future tour programme, Pakistan has to host South Africa in October and the matches will be played in the UAE.

Will they [selectors] include the tried, tested and failed senior players again or will they take steps, by seriously keeping an eye on the future.

For the Cricket board, there is no other way but to put the act together. They have to separate Cricket and its management. If Miandad, Intikhab Alam or whoever in the set-up could server well for Cricket development then he should not be burdened with managerial business of attending meetings or finding coaches. The services of other former players including the wicketkeepers, fast-bowlers, openers must also be unitised.

The Board does have a Cricket committee but here again the outcome is next to nothing. The recent mismanagements at the domestic competitions were pretty evident of their progress. The recent domestic one-day cup was played at a below-par centre and the players were forced to bear a hectic 8-hour journey through bus. Teams from one province refused to play in the other hence the schedule was to be revised etc. These issues are irrelevant to the real topic hence I wouldn’t stretch future but my last word is that wherever the money is to be spent, it should be used-up adequately to gain as much as possible.

Right man for the right job should be the order of the day, otherwise more events ahead would bring more embarrassment. The wheel will keep on rolling, for sure, but without moving an inch I am afraid.

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