Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen
Kay patkha gaya jin pe pakram pakrai
Gawanay ki phitkar sarmaya unka
Na jeet kay haqdaar aur na ghar kay jamai
Na bowling hay shab ko, na batting saweray
Najasat mein runs, century se nigoray
Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen
Jo target milay, bojh-e-sansaar uthalo
Zara inko review ka matlab batado
Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen
Ye har ek player kay career bananay walay
Ye fielding se ukta kay marjanay walay
Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen
Sorry late Faiz uncle! I was just coming back from my work when Tabish Javed’s song ‘Kuttay’ played and reminded me all kuttays in Pakistan cricket’s nowadays innocent but brainless batting line up.
Useless, characterless, meaningless, worthless and chaseless. It has been more than two years since Pakistan cricket team ever chased a target in One Day Internationals (ODI) upto 250. Our batting standards are improving from worse to worst and nationwide hate towards Pakistan’s impotent batting line-up is increasing like the asking run-rate.
No matter how unpredictable this Green Army is, but the most predictable aspect of this team is they unarguably are the weakest target-chasers. History is prove and witness itself. In 1985 Sharjah contest, a batting line-up composed of Mudassar, Mohsin, Rameez, Miandad, Imran, Salim Malik; Miandad-army suicided at mere 87 runs while chasing India’s total of 125 runs. I repeat 125 runs!!!! Imran bowled his best bowling figures 6-14 that day.
Pakistan’s ill-fate in World Cup has also majorly been their failure in target chasing. Not surprisingly besides 1999 World Cup, Pakistan’s failure in title race all ended in unsuccessful target-chasing (excluding group stage exit in 1975, 2003 and 2007). Pakistan has suffered in innumerable ODI series deciders (3rd and 5th game) while batting unfortunately second and losing their way.
Uproar is always welcome by the cricket lovers as to when the batsmen will be able to chase the targets with ease? What exactly is their problem in chasing? Why their legs shake even in chasing a target mere 150?
I guess batting second is cricket-culturally Pakistan’s non-cure psychological disorder. This is their cricketing heritage as timeline proves they have always suffered and will. One could have sensed if Pakistan bat with B-team in failures, but we have watched Pakistan bizarrely collapsing even with A-class batsmen of their times like one game I mentioned above.
The current scenario of Pakistan’s batting is manuscript itself. The way they bat whether they bat first or second, their body language translates the fate of the game. When Pakistan was murdered 0-9 in their last tour to Australia few years ago, the-then coach Intikhab Alam called the team ” Mentally Retarded”.
In 21st century T20 branded cricket, ODI teams are nowadays going crazy in smashing runs and accelerating their run-rates. 300 runs are common now. Infact, since ODI’s greatest match ever played at Johannesburg, there are 10 instances of 400+ totals in ODIs. (India 4, Pakistan 0)
When it comes to target chasings in ODIs, 44 targets of 300+ has been chased so far. Out of these, only 5 such chasings were done in the 90’s, while the rest since 2000. The superior 300+ chasers are India who chased 15 times as compared to Pakistan who chased only 4 times (dramatically all against India).
Keeping all these stats aside, the batting line-up of Pakistan nowadays looks scared of their ill-fate before facing the first delivery. The openers come to the crease to settle the opening stand but instead of hatching golden eggs, they become confused civil engineer with A3 paper in hand without a pencil. Instead of attacking the bowlers and increasing the run-rate, they keep analyzing the bowler’s length and counting spectators in VIP lounge. They bother to take risk.
Many openers and opening pairs have been tested to cement their place after their most profilic and successful Saeed Anwar. In past 10 years, many arrived and departed. Notable names were Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Hameed, Salman Butt and Nasir Jamshed. All of them impressed in the beginning but failed in later stages. I think the management didn’t groom the openers or didn’t utilized them properly. Specially Yasir Hameed was the one who grew faster as run-machine and was/is 3rd fastest batsman to cross 1000 ODI career runs. But once he failed, he got no support and fell miserably.
Salman Butt, ere infamous controversy, was one genuine left-hand opening batsman with 8 hundreds in only 78 ODIs (5 against India). Nasir Jamshed came to scene at 18 and played many exciting knocks. After his comeback in Asia Cup 2012, the lefty became prominent asset for the team, once averaging 50+ in ODIs and hitting 3 consecutive hundreds against India. Till the ODI series against India in 2012-13, Nasir had incidentally played all his ODI games in Asia. But once he stepped outside Asia, his performance dipped badly. With no motivation and lack of confidence, he reached 50 only twice in next 19 games.
No.3 is the position which Pakistan enjoyed for almost couple of decades with services of Ijaz Ahmad and Younis Khan for a long period. Since Younis Khan’s miserable ODI form in recent years and axing from the squad, the vacancy is still empty as youngsters like Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin and ‘professor’ Hafeez have been tested but to no success.
Down comes the middle order with the captain who don’t need any introduction. Misbah has been the mystery unsolved. Nation cries for his defensive approach ‘tuk tuk’ but nation also applaudes for his regular contribution of runs. The criticism against Misbah infuriates that he is the main culprit of weak batting line-up due to his entire slow approach of generating runs throughout the inning which costs him to score his maiden hundred in ODI format. Whereas critics favor Misbah in a manner that his runs (no matter how many balls he faced) in any situation (mostly complicated) adds value in Pakistan’s inning score which at dead end makes them reach towards 200 runs in all labored way. The word ‘mystery’ is unfolded due to the confounding fact that a batsman with defensive approach towards generating runs suddenly goes for a whack and hits a six which is not expected from a batsman of such orthodox style.
Misbah’s captaincy has also been hither and thither. Taking leadership at the time when Pakistan cricket hit their worst controversy in 2010 and actually making comeback in international cricket + the team already lacking international cricket at home, was abnormal and too hard for a challenge. A shattered time unite under him and decorate PCB’s cabinet with few trophies. His captaincy nowadays is questionable due to many aspects of recently finished Pak-SA series where Pakistan lost the series miserably due to humongous batting collapses. Obviously he is not at all ultimate leader with the best decision-making quality. Every captain make mistakes so as Misbah. But I don’t agree that every bit of dust has to be spread on Misbah’s face.
Yes, I am disappointed with Misbah’s extreme selection of misfitting Sohail Tanvir in all 5 ODIs against SA who was absolute failure. Asad Shafiq and Umar Amin failed again to satisfy. Inclusion of Wahab in squad was another laughing stock. Hafeez and Nasir’s disastrous form continues. Genuine wkt-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmad wasn’t given a single chance to play and the funny part is that he can keep wickets but not capable of batting the way Umar Akmal bats with still a recognition what he stands for. Ajmal’s spin partner Abdur Rehman hugely ignored once again when he could easily have been picked in Sohail/Wahab’s place considering the turning pitch.
Now for the players I mentioned above, the blaming is hugely set against Misbah which I partially agree/disagree. We cannot fully blame Misbah and criticize his final XI selection at all. The more responsibility of team failure bends to chief selector Moin Khan who picked an absolute bizarre and unfit squad to face one of strongest sides in the world. Repeated ODI failures like Wahab, Sohail, Asad and Sarfaraz were included for nothing. Senior players like Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez were selected on a strong CV which has nothing to do with their current form (Afridi did showed some form in bowling). Umar Amin who was termed for future vice-captaincy in the backstage showed no impression. Ahmad Shahzad was trusted due to good showing in recent past and proved his worth in both batting and fielding. Junaid-Ifran-Ajmal are the most trusted trio of the year to be automatically your first priority in XI but Misbah’s tactics went strange of not utilizing Junaid properly in the series which deducts the marks from skipper. Sohaib Maqsood was the only newcomer in the squad who was the most successful showman in whole batting line-up with 2 back to back 50’s in as many matches.
In this series, I profound the mind-frame of team that they hugely and heavily relied on winning the toss, so they can bat first and ignore target-chasing mind game. And that is what exactly happened. SA were so lucky to win the toss 4 out of 5 times, chose to bat first and Pakistan in all 4 attempts failed to chase. Pakistan won the toss on only one occasion, chose to bat and despite scoring only 209 runs, they defended and won. There was no game-plan when it comes to batting. To a bizarre of batting standards, no.3 position was changed THRICE which looked pretty unusual in 5-game series.
Fielding is another department where Pakistan never satisfy the viewers. Many mis-fieldings specially in 4th ODI gift the opponent extra burden of runs on Pakistan as target. Despite the fact that Pakistan bowlers didn’t bowl a single wide or no-ball in inning, they conceded 266 runs. Gifting end overs to Sohail Tanvir was illogical and beyond my understanding which Pakistan paid a huge price specially in last 2 games. General coaching of veteran Dave Whatmore is also lacking some freshness and team is looking absolutely dull and out of shape. It seems like if Whatmore was never with them or the players are not willing to get trained or the other factor most probably be some problems existing between the coach and captain which lead towards uncertainty. In any case, Whatmore impact is no more.
Sooooo, chasing the turmoil is all about agony towards failure. Bowling always was and is their golden key to success but batting is what has made Pakistan in huge crisis. Chasing the turmoil is about existing nightmares ere your dreaming of path towards world title in 2015. Pakistan were crowned world champions in front of world-record cricket attendance of 87,000 ODI spectators at the same venue where world cup will be staged. Is there any ray of hope?
Let me put my points what I believe is best and most suitable measures to adopt as soon as possible. They might look difficult ever to implement but I firmly believe team might stand up to its feet by doing the following:
MAJOR SPONSORS: Admit it, Kool & Kool won’t kool your financial and marketing boom to capture a huge capacity of viewers/spectators. PCB should consider heavy investments and deal with global major sponsors the way BCCI deal. The central and provincial governments should implement huge scheme of investments. Highly recognized banks may aid you in sponsoring major competitions at high level. PCB need experienced sports consultants and strategists to develop lucrative cricket expansion deal.
DOMESTIC INFRASTRUCTURE: Above I mentioned ‘heavy investments’. Like Warren Buffett says, ‘Don’t put all eggs in one basket’. Apply this investing on various grounds and upgrade them. International cricket grounds are limited to very few and mostly in Punjab province. Cricket board has to put their money in grounding, curating and shaping the stadiums with all facilities a spectator should get. Consider shaping grounds of Peshawar, Faisalabad, Quetta, Hyderabad and Sargodha.
TALENT HUNT AND CRICKET CLINICS: Pakistan enjoys amazing talented cricketers introduced at domestic cricket but they are not well nurtured. Talent hunt campaign should be run by PCB appointed committee of former veteran players who hunt the brightest prospects. Listing them in contract promotion bases, PCB should organize Cricket Clinic twice a year and invite cricket’s big names to train, guide and educate them. PCB should heavily focus on A and B teams of Pakistan comprised of these shining players, so that they make cricket tours to England, South Africa and Australia.
PERFORMANCE-BASED CONTRACTS: ICC recognize Central Contract system which I am yet to understand the logic. For me, the basic negativity lies in promotion/demotion of player (whether he is amateur or experienced) with increment/decrement in salaries into 3 different classes which begin revolts and misunderstandings between the players. Possibility of unjust is high. I believe instead of A,B,C-Z classes of contracts, there should be ‘Performance-Based Contracts’ with laws measured by PCB administrators under supervision of ICC. Under PBC, the board committee should strictly measure and scan every player’s performance series-by-series. A player with disappointing performance in 2 straight series shall be removed and call back until he proves his form in domestic cricket. A shining player from ‘A’ team should replace him with full confidence. In this fashion, Pakistan will, in every case, perform.
CAPTAIN AS CHIEF SELECTOR: A very innovative, time saving, misunderstanding reducing idea that I simply believe that the captain should be appointed as chief selector of his squad. I never understand function of selection committee, they simply always always fail to make a proper squad. It is the captain who knows who fits in his squad and to whom he chose to play. Captain should enjoy full authority of selection.
FIXTURES: Pakistan in recent years is playing very less number of tests and huge number of T20s which is also a major reason of lack of stability in batting. The more tests they play, the more consistency and temperament in batting will come. In recent years, Pakistan usually play 2-test series even against major teams. 1992 tour of England after World Cup was the last time Pakistan ever played 5-test series. Since then, they have played 4-test series twice both in England in 2006 and 2010. Pakistan should play at least 12 tests (4 sets of 3-test series), 30 ODIs (6 sets of 5-ODI series) and 10 T20Is.
MISSION-INTERNATIONAL CRICKET AT HOME: Don’t know why PCB is not able to bring international cricket back to home. You don’t need to invite test-playing nations. Why not bother inviting Afghanistan? Afghanistan Cricket Board has already signed a 2-year memorandum of understanding with PCB under which PCB will provide technical and professional support, coaching course, basic umpiring and curator courses.
So how come Pakistan cannot ask for favor to visit and play a short ODI series?? Pakistan can even invite Ireland or 2 associate teams and organize a tri-series just to make a go. Once such ideas are organized and played with most satisfactory security system, other cricket boards may probably give a green signal to tour Pakistan and things might then proceed successfully.
MY TEAM SELECTION: If I am asked to make changes with full authority;
1. I will kick current Coach Dave Whatmore out of his contract. Simple it is, your formula and plans didn’t work or the players are not learning/willing to learn. I was always in favor of Whatmore with his amazing past experience with Ranatunga’s Lankan Tigers and Habibul Bashar’s Bangladesh. But unfortunately, things are not working so this is right time to leave. I will appoint a veteran Pakistani cricketer as national coach who can easily understand their problems.
In fielding case, it is time to put Julien Fountain’s contract to end. I see Pakistan’s fielding becoming more bizarre under him. I have a very interesting idea but first let me know from the readers, do your players seriously look sportsman?? Do they have sporting physique?? HELL NO!! You need a strict trainer who will come up with immense physical training exercise, and who candidate can ever be better then your Army’s sergeant. Imagine impact of army officer’s training on our fielding. Not only basic skills will be polished, but also the players will be agile and keen runner. Not a joke but they will finally be able to attempt to dive.
2. Captaincy is the biggest debate once again. With both theories written above, it is hard to decide whether Misbah should retain his captaincy or not. If he wants to give up his captaincy, than it is fine and his own decision. Other candidates Hafeez and Afridi are not in good all-round form. Younis Khan is a great name for captaincy but his ODI form is disastrous. So I will keep Misbah the skipper till 2015 World Cup. One should not ignore his leadership feats which made Pakistan the most capable team of 2011, defeated the-then World no.1 test team England by 3-0, won Asia Cup 2012 and defeated India in ODI series.
3. From this series, I will bring/remove
Hammad Azam<>Sohail Tanvir,
Sadaf Hussain<>Wahab Riaz,
Adnan Akmal<>Sarfaraz Ahmad,
Babar Azam<>Asad Shafiq,
Haris Sohail<>Umar Amin,
Raza Hasan<>Abdur Rehman
4. Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmad Shahzad, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Sohaib Maqsood and Misbah ul Haq will stay in the team with the inclusion of changes made above.
Pakistan has 15 months to prepare themselves for the destination towards world title. They seriously need to take some measures otherwise it will be too late. Pakistan cricket is capable of fight backs, they do have strong fan following everywhere. All what they need is our green support to muster up their courage. Love and passion for the cricket should not dim their spirit.
Winning and losing is part of a game. I pray and wish all the best to the Team Green and keep Josh-e-Junoon alive. May you succeed and come back to your prime again. Love your cricket… Don’t hit wicket…
Ye mahroom marhoom agar aitamaad jagaye
To haarna hathiyar dalna bhool jayen
Ye chahen to jeet ko yadgaar bana len
Ye kisi bhi team ki pasliyan tak tor dalen
Koi inki ehsas-e-kamtari mitaday
Koi inke khoye hue junoon ko jagaday