Respected Captain, Coach and entire PCB Management,
I don’t need to introduce myself because your whole team is too busy in taking selfies and escaping/surviving from the Oceanian ghosts traveling with you in your buses, hotel rooms and bouncy pitches. Although your squad is mentally, physically and morally prepared since the day you stepped in the pacific continent to play on green, fast and bouncy pitches after all your preparations on U.A.E’s very sporting tracks; still I believe there is need of consultancy in strategy making after watching your two highly competitive and thrilling games against India and West Indies.
I have found your whole team in bizarre conundrum and dozen of errors in the most simplest common-senses in team selections, fielding and catching, target-chasing, and running between the wickets prove there is an urgent need of medical team full of neurosurgeons and psychiatrists (and they should be more in numbers as compared to your officials).
After painfully reading my first two paragraphs of paranormal compliments and regards, allow me to present you your 3 most basic comedy of errors you are producing in your vulgar cricketing presentation in this CWC:
1. Mental Weakness over Toss
Captain is not fully prepared to understand the condition of target-chasing nemesis. He should carefully read the stats of his team’s past performances on oceanic cricket grounds. He should realize that Pakistan has never chased 280+ target ever neither in New Zealand nor in Australia under any captain in ODI history. If losing the toss is your fate, then accept the counterpart’s decision. If you win the toss, go for batting and boost the morale unless the pitch has too much grass and moisture.
2. Avoid Experiments/Know your Combination
After strange squad selection and twice dropping the easiest chance of picking your main weapon Saeed Ajmal in place of the injured, you have to squeeze the 11 players from your 15 to create a formation and build a necessary winning combo. Time of experiments is finished just like preparation for exams before handling the question paper to the student.
The captain/coach has to admit on reducing the risk of reliability over two factors:
a. Younis Khan‘s bat which is not blazing in ODI for a long long time. He averages only 21 in ODIs in last three years. That is not only enough, the worst of his is absolutely ignored by the selectors. He averages 17 and 16.87 in ODIs in Australia and New Zealand respectively in aggregate of 19 ODIs with one knock of 50, no banging of SIX and overall strike rate of almost 60.
b. Haris Sohail’s bowling which is presented in the recent ODIs as fourth or fifth choice bowler. By average, he is bowling 7 overs every ODI which is too much to ask for, for a part-timer who has hardly bowled only 11 overs in his entire first-class career so far.
3. Daydreaming ’92 Glory
This has become the most embarrassing situation when the team indirectly is daydreaming more than being self-confident of rewriting the history in world cup record books. Comparing Pakistan’s initial troubles with the ’92 one is not playing a stress-relief game but inviting ghosts for a combat. You have to take the inspiration from ’92 glory and plan harder to avoid further hiccups.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE STRATEGY NOW!!!!!
Either bat first or second, no matter which team you play against, Pakistan’s XI for the remaining matches should be like this:
30 days left in the beginning of cricket’s biggest fever and Pakistan’s 15-man squad is finally out. As usual Pakistan Selection Committee (PSC) is at its best in surprising cricket fans with strange announcement of squads. Major surprise is fast bowler Sohail Khan’s inclusion and Fawad Alam’s exclusion.
Ok I don’t get it!!!! Although Sohail Khan is a good selection to be honest because he is leading wicket taker in local cricket league with 64 wickets at 22 this season but but but, why his inclusion is surprising is due to the fact that he was not in 30-man preliminary squad!!!!! :S
Please correct me if I am wrong, I might be getting hyper but Sohail wasn’t picked in 30-man probables. Was he picked in Saeed Ajmal‘s place because he withdrew himself from the CWC15? Might be possible if I didn’t hear such news. If not then why is Sohail Khan even picked? If performances in recent domestic games were considered to finalize 15-man squad then on what basis had the selectors selected 30 players?? :S Sorry to say but Pakistan Selection Committee has trolled the readers and cricket fans yet again and I am not surprised. PSC has a proud history of trolling and they always come up with strange announcements. Do anyone at this moment remember, Javed Miandad wasn’t picked in 1992 World Cup??? He joined the team later after convincing the-then PSC and Javed’s response is history.
Anyhow I am very pleased to see our kukri-man Sohail Tanvir and struggling limited-overs batsman Asad Shafiq are out of final 15. Calling Sohail Tanvir an all-rounder is the same deception what Indian cricket fans had about Ajit Agarkar. Very expensive bowling and limited resources of dead-end batting. PSC has sacrificed many promising all-round talents for his sake. In Asad’s case, he is more of a First-class cricket player than a limited-overs batsman. He was given enough chances to come up with at least one big hit but failed. So it is a good relief. Asad should concentrate on test career as that format is promising for him.
Another sigh of relief is omission of 18-months wrong comeback fatty Nasir Jamshed. Legend says captain-coach had requested the PSC to pick Nasir as their 3rd opener!!!! Would you believe this?? Having Ahmad Shahzad and Mohammad Hafeez, you have another option in attacking-minded Sarfraz Ahmad. Isn’t it strange that PSC select or ignore individual’s performance on one-series instead of considering a very very consistent player.
Take a look, Nasir Jamshed brutally failed almost the whole of 2013-14 season but one series for Pakistan A against U.A.E. with one big knock of 134 put the PSC into consideration of his possible international comeback!! Same goes with 2 solid left-hand middle order batsmen in Fawad Alam and Haris Sohail. After almost 4 years of international comeback, Fawad proved his worth in Asia Cup 2014 and justified his performances in crisis against Sri Lanka in ODI series but one bad series against Australia all of a sudden put a question mark on his performance and his possible selection for CWC15. On the other hand, Haris Sohail got one extremely good series against the Kiwis in recently concluded ODI series enough to legitimize his selection in final 15.
After dropping Fawad after one bad Australian ODI series, he kept performing on domestic circuit in almost every game and was still not considered!! Fawad is the man of crisis situation where he is an extreme situation-batsman like Abdul Razzaq was in the past. He proved that point against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Asia Cup. With 300+ ODI run in 2014, Fawad had 5th highest overall average of 69 and highest among Pakistani batsmen. From any case, Fawad’s exclusion from final 15 is one of the most shocking announcements.
Middle-order was always going to be a problem for selectors with capable names in Fawad Alam, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Haris Sohail and late entry of ODI-veteran Younis Khan. With Misbah-ul-Haq an automatic choice for captain, Younis Khan’s comeback hundred against Kiwis played a wild card to plot him no.3 in final 15. Umar Akmal’s healthy ODI average and strike rate always compel the selectors to keep him in the team as he benefits you as 2nd choice wicket-keeper. It has been 6 international cricket years but still he may carry the tag of being immature batsman who gets dismissed by playing silly sluggish shots. Somehow captain and coach are also to blame as his batting order has changed many time which unease him to settle down. Sohaib Maqsood gives you important stands and play situation-cricket but he is poor in running between the wickets, but no doubt a very talented batsman.
All-rounders!!!! Although I don’t want but as the situation demands, Shoaib Malik should have been picked in Mohammad Hafeez’s place. Hafeez’s bowling is suspended by ICC, so his batting service is a liability on fast bouncy pitches. Hafeez already has been exposed by Dale Steyn in the past. Ok why Shoaib Malik? Because he is also an all-rounder, more experienced than Hafeez, who even has experience of Australian pitches due to his participation in Big Bash. When it comes to running between the wickets and specially rotating the strike, Hafeez is nowhere in front of Shoaib.
Anwar Ali is not selected and is a good decision. He has lost his charm in bowling what he had when we watched him in U-19 World Cup Final against India in 2006. Due to that particular match, viewers kept expecting from him but his response has been sluggish. Shahid Afridi remains the other oh wait a minute the only all-rounder in the squad!!! :S This shows PCB had no planning for the CWC15. They should have began preparing the team at least a year ago to fetch some good young talents and play them some games with freedom like others do. Hammad Azam could have easily hit the list of probables and could have been automatic choice in final 15. Besides Lala, they ignored every all-rounder from the probables. Amazing!!
Glad to see Kamran Akmal didn’t show up in final 15. He did not even deserve to be in the probables. Mohammad Rizwan should have been considered. Sarfaraz Ahmad is unanimous choice as he is one of the most improved wicket-keeper batsman. He can be promoted as opener as he is an attacking mind batsman who will utilize 1st powerplay better than Hafeez.
Bowling department has some soul but a very very inexperienced side. Sohail Khan was discussed in the beginning. Other name is Ehsan Adil of which I am not that sure but yes his first-class record is extraordinary. Yasir Shah is the lone recognized spinner chosen over Zulfiqar Babar and Raza Hasan. It is a good selection because Australian pitches are favorable for leg-spinners more than off-spinners.
Major plus is return of Junaid Khan. His opening partnership with lanky Mohammad Irfan will be a threat for the batsmen. Both paces more than 140 kph easily. And on Australian fast and bouncy pitches, Junaid’s swing and Ifran’s extra bounce will play a vital role. 3rd fast bowler Wahab Riaz lacks line and length and also do not collect enough wickets to justify his selection. He his picked only for his pace which is very ideal on those pitches. All three are incidentally left-hand bowlers.
Besides Afridi and three lefty fast bowlers, the whole department of bowlers have played only 8 ODIs in aggregate. Ehsan played his last ODI back in 2013 but Sohail and Yasir played in national side 4 years ago. So these 3 bowlers with a lot of talent but no experience in international circuit have to perform in huge pressure. Hope they do justice.
Out of these 15 players, 9 are touring Australia for the first time in any format that includes the whole bowling department besides Lala. 40-year-old captain Misbah will play ODIs in Australia for the first time and wicket-keeper Sarfraz has played only one ODI. Shahid Afridi stands the player with most experience who is consistently touring Australia since 1997-98 World Series. He was even part of ICC World XI which played ODI series in 2005 against Ponting’s mighty Australian side. This will also be Lala’s 5th and last World Cup. With this campaign, he will retire from ODIs.
Pakistan’s last tour to Australia was the-then worst touring record in cricket history when they badly lost by 9-0 (3 tests, 5 ODIs & T20I). Pakistan’s last victorious moment in Australia was back in 2002 when Shoaib Akhtar’s inspirational bowling made Pakistan win 2-1. Their golden moment in Australia stands 1992 World Cup glory.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should have implemented plans for World Cup preparations a long time ago. Most of their international games have been played in Gulf region and World Cup pitches are way different than the former. Pakistan team suffer poor ODI record at temporary HOME conditions in U.A.E. with same repeated traditional mistakes like misunderstanding and wrong calls while running between the wickets, mediocre fielding and dropping catches and psychological errors like chasing the targets and increasing inning run-rates etc.
With such team, I expect Pakistan team reach maximum to Quarterfinals stage. Reaching the semis will be an extraordinary stuff. Reaching the final would be considered an achievement and honor, and winning it would be a MIRACLE!! Should we believe in miracle??? Of course why not?? Cricket’s only thing which is unpredictable is called ‘Pakistan’. Like PSC, this team also has surprised to the viewers and fans with their performances many time. May the unpredictability has its say and may the best and deserving team win…
My Pakistan XI from this squad: 1. Ahmad Shahzad 2. Sarfraz Ahmad 3. Younis Khan 4. Misbah-ul-Haq 5. Sohaib Maqsood or Haris Sohail 6. Umar Akmal 7. Shahid Afridi 8. Sohail Khan 9. Yasir Shah 10. Junaid Khan 11. Mohammad Irfan
The madness of cricket will reach its peak on Valentine’s Day when Sri Lanka will take on hosts New Zealand. The matches will begin at 4 different times which are 22:00, 1:00, 3:30 and 6:30 GMTs. Sadly for we Asians, we have to adjust our waking-sleeping times due to huge difference in timings.
This will be the second time that Cricket World Cup (CWC) will be hosted in the Oceanian region. The last time CWC was played here 22 years ago; color clothing, white cricket balls and black sight-screens were introduced. This was the beginning of modern-day cricket world cups organized on larger scale.
Since, 2857 ODIs have been played and the game of gentlemen has turned into game of entertainment. Once the game was a battle between batsman and bowler, but now the administration and lawmakers of cricket have moved the momentum by ruthlessly limiting restrictions on bowlers and gifting more favors to batsman so that the spectators and viewers can enjoy the runs and most specifically six-hitting festival.
The format of CWC always changes but this time as compared to the last edition, the format is same. Exactly 14 cricket teams will play 49 matches. Yesterday (21.12.14) I noticed on twitter, former Australian great Matthew Hayden picked his 11 greatest cricketers for any World Cup. That encouraged me to pick my XI and submitted on www.icc-cricket.com.
In this cricketing blog, I present you my Greatest CWC XI by batting order. My formation is 2 openers – 4 middies – 1 wicket keeper – 4 bowlers:
If New Zealand’s Mark Greatbatch was surely CWC’s first pinch-hitting opener back in 1992, then Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya officially set the trend of big hitting and accelerating run-rate at the beginning of inning in 1996. His partnership in 1996 with another hitter Romesh Kaluwitharana became a stage of depression for all the bowlers as both accelerated the run rates from the start many a time. He was ‘Man of the Tournament’ of this edition.
Jaya is one of few CWC veterans who has played 5 or more editions. He played 38 matches, scored 1165 runs, picked 27 wickets and took 18 catches which easily make him one of CWC’s best all-rounder.
Unarguably the greatest batsman along with Brian Lara the world has ever witnessed in this sport after Don Bradman, Gary Sobers and Viv Richards. His career stats speaks the greatness and service of an individual for the game and his runs make one realize how hungry he was, how sharp the blade of his bat was.
The little master and Javed Miandad are the only cricketers to serve their nation 6 times in CWC. The batting genius has most runs (2278), centuries (6), half-centuries (15) and fours (241) in CWC. Sachin was ‘Man of the Tournament’ for his 673 runs in 2003, which is also the most in any edition. He also is the only batsman who scored 4 consecutive 50s TWICE!!
46-matches-old CWC veteran! Punter was one of few who enjoyed 12-year CWC domination. Also he and Glenn McGrath were the only to play in 4 consecutive CWC Finals. He is only the 2nd captain in CWC after Clive Lloyd of West Indies to win 2 back-to-back or most titles. Without any doubt, both the captains led a very dominating cricket team in their times who ruled the world of cricket. He played a superb captain’s knock of 140* vs India in 2003 Final and got ‘Man of the Match’ award.
Ponting is 2nd to Sachin in CWC’S top runs scorer and centuries. He hit most sixes in CWC than any batsman (31). He also enjoys being CWC’s finest captain as per the stats as under his captaincy, Australia’s winning percentage was 92.85%. He led his side in 29 matches and won 26 of them. He lost 2 matches and faced a no-result all in last edition, when Australian domination was ended by new defending champions, India. Australia won every single game in 2003 and 2007 editions under him. As a fielder, he has the most catches (28) by a non wicket-keeper and most in a singe edition (11) i.e., in 2003.
Sachin and Lara surely were the greatest batsmen of their time but will never reach the height where Viv Richards truly was. Richards was one true ambassador of the game in those times when the corporate and big-money pocketers put heavy investment in the game and brought the soul of limited overs cricket. He was a smasher with bat and faced one of most remarkable fast bowlers of his time as compared to Sachin/Lara, that one argument where King of cricket unanimously wins.
Viv was the first batsman to reach 1000 runs in CWC. Among all 13 batsmen of 1000-runs scoring club, he enjoys the best average (63.31). His 138* in Final of 1979 edition will be remembered as one of the greatest WC knocks the batsman has ever played, for which he was also awarded ‘Man of the Match’.
Cricket’s most charming strokes-player ever and one of most stylish batsman ever to grace modern-day cricket. One cannot ignore him in any batting list and I will mention his name in my XI.
Lara is veteran of 5 CWCs and third-highest runs scorer in tournament’s history after Tendulkar and Ponting. He scored 2 CWC 100s and both were against South Africa, and both were fabulous knocks. Lara played his last CWC at home in 2007 unfortunately his team wasn’t that strong enough to make a history and retired with 299 ODIs.
Calm but lively character, Miandad was the name who stayed more in the contest in most critical situations, who occupied the crease to frustrate any bowling line-up. Miandad was the first to participate in 6 CWCs, the other being Tendulkar as mentioned before. He was 2nd to Viv who reached 1000 CWC runs.
Among all 13 batsmen of 1000-runs scoring club, Miandad had the least no. of boundaries hitting only 72 fours and 3 sixes which shows his untiring efforts and laboring mountain of runs between the wickets. For a huge surprise, Miandad wasn’t selected for Pakistan squad of 1992 edition. But he returned to squad in practice matches and the rest is history.
Only a fool will omit his name in this specific XI when it comes in picking a wicket-keeper. Gilly was one of the most destructive batsmen ever played CWC. He played 3 CWCs and won all. His last CWC knock was ‘Man of the Match’ winning monumental 149 in the Final of 2007 edition against Sri Lanka.
As wicket-keeper, he lead the list of most dismissals (52) in CWC which includes 45 catches (also a record) and 7 stumpings. Gilly is the only wicket-keeper/batsman with 1000 CWC runs. Also to his name is most dismissals (21) in single edition and also in one match (6) both achieved in 2003.
A leader whose leadership inspired his team to attempt a miracle and took the 1992 title in front of 87,000 world record attendance of Melbourne Cricket Ground against tournament favorites England. Imran Khan was known for his leadership skills and famously termed his team ‘Cornered Tigers’ when Pakistan heavily needed a major morale boosting comeback. Imran was veteran of 5 CWCs, who led his team in CWC thrice. Pakistan played 22 matches under him, won 14 of them with win percentage of 63%.
Once, Imran was leading wicket-taker in CWC with 34 wickets out of which half were grabbed in 1987 edition. He averaged 19.86 in bowling, which is 2nd best after Glenn McGrath in CWC. He definitely is my captain for this CWC XI with Punter his deputy.
One of the greatest left-arm bowler cricket has ever produced. Wasim Akram known as ‘Sultan of Swing’ was the first bowler to reach 50 wickets in CWC and is 3rd among leading wicket takers in CWC (55). He played 38 matches, which is the most by any Pakistani, 15 of them he captained the side.
Wasim’s most unforgettable performance to date is his heroic all-round performance in 1992 CWC final. Those two game changing deliveries to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the final will be remembered for long time and was awarded ‘Man of the Match’. He led his side to the final of 1999 where most of his boys in the squad played their first CWC unfortunately losing to Steve Waugh‘s Australia from where their rule on cricket began.
This might be debatable like a never-ending argument to speak if Warne was better or Murali. Same goes here in CWC. Despite the fact Murali had 68 wickets, I will go with Warne’s 32. He played 2 CWCs and the biggest impact on stage was his back-to-back 4 wicket-hauls in 1999 edition which gifted his side to take the title for the first time in 12 years. Warne was awarded ‘Man of the Match’ in both Semifinal and Final.
Shane along with Geoff Allott became leading wicket taker in any edition with 20 wickets. He has grabbed 4-wicket hauls in CWC four times (along with Murali), which is the most by any.
And my last pick is going to be one of the most deadliest line-and-length fast bowler, Glenn McGrath. He is the leading wicket-taker in CWC with 71 wickets. Also tops the list of best bowling figures of 7/15 vs Namibia in 2003. His CWC bowling average of 18.19 is also above all names and in bowling strike rates (27.5), he is just 2nd to Zaheer Khan.
Glenn played 4 CWCs and reached all the Finals. He along with Ponting and Gilchrist are the only cricketers to play 3 successive CWC finals. 2007 was his last and made another record with most wickets by any bowler in single edition with 26. For this extraordinary performance, he was chosen ‘Man of the Tournament’.
Picking XI for any certain criteria is never easy. Selecting 11 greatest cricketers of CWC history always need a thorough research and achievements by individual. Brian Lara is the only player in my XI who never won the CWC. I believe my biggest omission is Muralitharan who grabbed 68 wickets in 5 CWCs. Sachin, Wasim and Gilly were the most obvious choice. Arrangement of batting order was a problem as Javed usually batted at #4 and Lara played most part of his ODI career at #3 and #4. Gilly who batted most of his career as opener is compromised at keeper’s best slot #7 for the sake of Jayasuriya.
Apply ICC field restrictions new or old, my openers Jaya/Sachin will always be delight to watch together. These two ODI veterans are the only cricketers who have served their teams for more than 20 years this century. Either you bowl first or later, either you have new ball or old, my opening bowlers Wasim-McGrath will be the most ideal and deadly combo on any surface. Captain Imran Khan will be my ideal first change with Warne’s varieties of leg-spinning from the other hand.
With 4 powerful bowlers, I will use Jaya and Richards. Both were slow-arm orthodox but very very handy for their teams. Jaya had 323 ODI wickets and his bowling famously turned the Semifinal match against India in 1996 edition which ended in Sri Lanka’s favor due to crowd’ disturbance. Richards had 118 ODI wickets and his 3/52 in Semifinal match against Pakistan in 1979 assured West Indies path to Final. Still need more hands in bowling, Sachin could bowl many varieties besides fast bowling and had 154 ODI wickets to his name.
I don’t think this team needs a head coach for any CWC, but if asked then I will pick John Buchanan because Bob Woolmer is no more. Hope the readers found the blog and my Greatest CWC XI interesting. You may share your feedback below.