Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The perenial problem of Pakistan cricket

A topic much discussed and often laughed at; Pakistan cricket is seeing the early stages of a revival - but only as Pakistan know how to do.

The typical captain swapping, abysmal fielding, batting collapses, heavy board involvement and brilliant fast bowling typifies post-Imran cricket in the troubled nation. Salman Butt looks suspect as a captain in his defensive fields when he has the opponents on the ropes; but to be fair many a captain seems to feel deep point is a necessity as soon as an edge goes for 4 through deep third man (!). Unfortunately in Pakistan captains are not groomed but rather thrown into the position as Yousuf, Afridi and now Butt have been. Whether this contributes to in-house fighting is debatable but it appears that egos are rarely put aside unlike what used to happen in the case of Imran and Javed Miandad.

No doubt the inability to play international cricket at home hurts the nation. A cricket-mad country unable to see its stars is unfortunate indeed. Even more unfortunate is that fact that this is unlikely to change anytime soon. Osman Samiuddin writes eloquently of the two-region nature of Pakistan cricket which has always cast a shadow on the team; potentially fostering teams within a team at times. Players from outside Karachi and Punjab don't get a look-in which makes Australia's state versus state issue appear quite petty. But all of this - while having profound impacts in themselves - masks a deeper bureaucratic issue around selection.

When players are banned for life after a series loss, then re-instated after the player makes an apology, given one test to perform or never be picked again, the board is corrupt and everyone is watching their back to see where the fatal blow is coming from; it's hard to produce consistent results in the middle. Perhaps given time Waqar Younis can galvanize an environment closer to what he played under but this is unlikely. In the midst of this when one player feigns injury when his brother (who cannot wicket keep to save his life) is dropped and a revolt against the captain occurs, indiscipline and a lack of application on the field seems to result for Pakistan. There is no doubt amazing talent in their squad; not least of which is Amir. Pakistan could do well from having a squad of 15 or so players that it sticks with for 18 months rather than continuing with stop-gap measures in immediate response to whatever happened in their last test.


  1. possibly the most telling indictment of the nepotism within Pakistan cricket were several comment Henry made on the radio last summer.
    now some might say it was sour grapes on his part, but when uncles of politicians with no experience get prominent positions on boards or selection panels, something is more than rotten in the state of Pakistan; alas poor Imran, i knew him well, a man of infinite poise and composure!

    another tell tale for mine is the juxtaposition between 'revolving door' captains, and retirement captains. sure if the retirement captain starts well it is expected he shall carry the possie until [his] stumps; and this is great for team stability. the counter point is evident when compared to the revolving door captain- no stability and i would assume much back biting and political underhanded behaviour from the deposed.

    but the thing i think this observation does best is show that both extremes of the captains duration are failed; the middle path is the way to go as Siddhartha said.

    captains need time to make their side their own -good luck any future Paki leader!

    and captains that have had a good run at this, but no longer have a full understanding of the younger players having played no cricket with/against them at a state level, need to know that it is expected of them to step aside, but retain their position in the team if they are still performing so they can continue to contribute, unencumbered with the responsibility of total leadership. they will -of course- have a responsibility as senior players, just not the decision making.

    Pakistan without a world class leader/player that has political/family/skill backing will never be able to steer the ship through more than a few storms.

  2. Imran had two relatives on the board when he was captain too - it seems such a part of Pakistan cricket!

    It's funny how one can be made to eat their words so quickly; Pakistan took all their catches last night against England and Kamran Akmal actually kept ok! Should be good viewing tonight to see if their batsmen can dig in after getting England out for 233.

  3. ah, pay tv and no 5am starts, i'm envious Lefty.

  4. Yeah, I'm quite lucky Stoph.

    Pakistan are really showing England's frailties at the moment. If the ball does swing at all this summer it will be an interesting contest. England's batsmen clearly have plans to combat the swinging ball but then Ajmal comes along and bowls KP and Morgan between bat and pad. The more I think about it the more I think spin will be so important this Ashes. Bollinger, Hilf and Johnson have done a job but the way they've been inconsistent makes slow bowling so vital. It will be interesting to see whether Hauritz and Smith get picked in the same team; and whether Katich, North and Clarke get much bowling. North's offspin may just secure his place ironically. When the chips are down his batting has just not stood up.

  5. Don't start talking spinners ... England has just about the best offie in world cricket. Swann will worry our blokes, Clarke excepted.

  6. Lango; no doubt Swann will trouble Aus batsmen. I think I've written elsewhere that he'll be the leading wicket-taker for the series - for either side. The only reason he hasn't got more wickets in the Pakistan series is that in two tests the seamers rolled Pakistan for next to nothing. I think Swann is the best spin bowler in the world; not just offie.

  7. i'll have a dip and say, Swann will get... 24 for the series.
    and at the moment i'll back your call of Swann best in the world Lefty... for now! i've only done one pre-season practice so far!

  8. I am tipping Johnson to be the highest wicket taker, and man of the series.

    Ponting will answer his critics and get highest run scorer.


  9. Big calls by Nospmas! You may well be right with Johnson; even when he sprays the ball everywhere he still gets poles. Can't go with the Ponting call though - I reckon Clarke is still getting better and will have a big one.

  10. i'm with Lefty for Clarke top scoring.
    Jonno may top for the aussies though.