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.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

optimism is nice- but i'm a realist!

with the absence of McGrath, it appears the responsibility of declaring the Ashes outcome has now fallen on the person most qualified (to announce in the media) but least capable of producing the result- captain punter.

stating that a 5-0 series is "absolutely possible", i wonder if in realistic terms he means he is prepared to go down by such a heady margin!

if he is talking about a repeat of the last Aus Ashes summer, can i assume- as a gambling man- he is willing to 'put his house on it'?

now, i'm all for a little bit of mind games in and with the media, but it is really only effective if it sews a seed of doubt when it is a possible outcome... this is not!
i think many an Englishman has just snuffled their breaky kippers straight up into their sinus while reading the morning papers and seeing punters remarks; i can only hope that 11 of Britain's best have done the same and are now in doubt for the tour to give the call half a chance of actually coming true!