Pakistan Need Shoaib Malik, the Player, Not the Ex – Skipper

CRICKET-PAK-RSA

Pakistan batting lineup recently proves itself as a house of cards, revolving around Misbah. If Misbah scored for Pakistan, the batting looked nearly decent, but if he flopped, everything looked miserable. Now his good time with the bat seems to all but over and things look more than just shaky for the team prior to the World Cup. Pakistan are less than 10 matches away from the World Cup, and are yet to find a batting lineup which is an automatic choice on the paper. There have been too many chops and changes in the batting order and things look more uncertain as they were 4 years back. As cricket’s biggest party is just few months away from beginning in full prime, I as a Pakistan Cricket supporter believes that Shoaib Malik might be the one who can give answers for a lot of questions for the Team Pakistan, come February 2015.

Pakistan have tried number of youngsters over the past 4 years from the last World cup, some of them even played in the last World Cup as the emerging players and sadly, they are still “Emerging” players.  Many of them are in their late 20’s, and their failures after failure are yet to give them a spot in the starting lineup. Pakistan after Amir Sohail and Saeed Anwar, always had issues at the top and it was their middle order who gave them the way out in difficult times. First it was Inzamam, Ejaz and Salim Malik, then it was Yousuf, Younis and Inzamam and later on it was Malik and Misbah along with Umer Akmal and Younis Khan who gave Pakistan the needed steel in the middle to take on the giants of International Cricket. That was one of the prime reasons why Pakistan were able to reach 4 consecutive Semi Final of World T20, 2 World T20 Finals, a World T20 Championship & one Semi – Final of the Champions Trophy and World Cup 2011 even after the World Cup debacle of 2007.

If one would look into all of this closely, you would find Malik in the middle of most of those achievements, and when Malik failed, Pakistan somehow failed as well. He was the 2nd highest scorer for Pakistan and 4th highest scorer in World T20 Championship in South Africa, where he led the team as a young Captain to the final against arch rival India. In 2009 World T20 Championship in England, he was involved in 2 crucial partnerships with Shahid Afridi in Semi Final and Final, which led Pakistan becoming the World T20 Champions. Later that year, in Champions trophy, Malik scored amazing century against arch rival India in the group match which made Pakistan qualify for the semi-finals, eventually losing to New Zealand. Pakistan toured South Africa in 2012, where they lost 3-0 in test matches. However, in the One – dayers, Pakistan were able to chase down twice which is not Pakistan’s strength, and both time Malik played a sensible hand in chasing down both targets.

Many would argue that Malik was given enough chances and that he should not include in the team again. However, I would like to argue in a different direction. YES! He was given a lot of chances since his comeback to the National team back in 2011. In fact, his average is mere 20 since his comeback in the national team after 2011 World Cup. But I believe, that was due to the fact that he has not played at the position where he was best played at. His average at the International and Domestic level is best at when he comes 2 down. He has an impressive average of 42.68 batting at No.4 in 22 innings while playing for Pakistan, which is definitely better than his overall average of 32.67. Batting at 4, Malik have 3 hundreds and 3 fifties under his belt in 22 innings which should at least be acceptable for Pakistan Cricket standard. Comparing Malik’s average while playing at no.4, it doesn’t surprise me that he performed a lot better than Younis Khan (average 36 at No.4), Umer Akmal (average 14 at No.4), Fawad Alam (average 19 at no.4), Sohaib Maqsood (average 28 at no.4) and Asad Shafiq (average 26 at No.4). Only Misbah have better average than Malik (average 46 at No.4), but to his credit, Misbah has better average playing at no.5 (average 48) than playing at no.4 (average 46). Yet, under the Captaincy of Misbah, he was mostly played at 6, and sometimes at 7, where his average comes down to 27 and 32.  He was never utilized as a part-time bowler, which he is more than just capable of and that he proves over and over again in Domestic cricket and in T20 Tournaments all over the world, which added more pressure on him to deliver from the bat a number on which he is not comfortable on.

Many would argue that he is a Professional and that he should play at the position where the team needs him, but I would ask them the same question in a different way “How would the likes of Mohammad Yousuf, Dravid, Virat Kohli or Damien Martyn, careers be like, if they were ask to play at no. 7 in the Batting Order”? The answer is known to most of the people who are out there and have watched Cricket regularly.

Malik is not the sort of player who you would want at the crease when the team needs 45 in last 4 overs. Instead, Malik is the sort of player who you would want to play the sheet anchors role, and make the team play around him. He is better than Misbah and better than Fawad Alam for sure in doing this. He has 7 centuries in ODI for goodness sake, and still have an average (32.67) even after poor performance in the last 3 years, than the likes of Younis Khan (31.75), Mohammad Hafeez(30.98), Kamran Akmal (26.18) and Shahid Afridi (23.27).

Looking at the replacements of Malik who have used so far, have yet to impress any one really. Umer Amin who plays purely as batsmen have an average of less than 20 in 15 matches, and Asad Shafiq who is nearing his 2nd World Cup and also plays as a batsmen only, has an average of 26 in 49 ODI’s with a strike rate of less than 70. Compare that to a strike rate of Malik and anyone would want to have him in the side.

Looking at Malik’s recent performances in the T20 tournaments in the Caribean and in the Champions League T20, one wonder’s why he was not included in the Pakistan Team? Especially after exclusion of a senior pro like Hafeez. He was the 2nd highest run getter (426) in the Caribean Premier League (CPL) and were the back bone of Barbados Tridents and helped them win the tournament. In the Champions League T20, he along with Blizzard made Hobart Hurricanes the only team outside the sub – continent to have reached the semi – final. He had the highest average in the tournament, with 86 and just got out twice in 5 matches.

In a major tournament like World Cup, teams need senior heads in the dressing room and especially in a team like Pakistan, who haven’t played a single match on the Home Soil since last 6 years, it becomes even more mandatory. With Pakistan loosing Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf in the middle order, it is evitable to have someone like Malik who has the ability to play a sheet anchor role in the team and let Misbah, Umer Akmal and Shahid Afridi to take advantage of in the last few overs. Misbah need to bat lower in the batting order because he has the ability to hit big shots and have cooler mind to make Umer Akmal and Shahid Afridi bat around him. With senior player like Malik in the team, it gives Misbah the luxury to be expressive as well and not feel overly burdened, plus it will give him an extra bowling option too. Pakistan only have few months to get their act straight and make sure we have the right balance on the field when the World Cup will begin in few months’ time. Malik also need to realize that he is a player representing Pakistan and his ex – skipper tag won’t help him stay in the team. He needs to lead by example on the field and make sure that Pakistan will get benefitted by his performance.

Arsenal’s Injury Crisis – A Simple Solution

Originally posted on She Wore A Yellow Ribbon:

Some players are just more injury prone than others. That’s a fact. No matter how much you think there injury record will improve, it never will. From Darren Anderton and Jamie Redknapp in the 90s to Michael Owen in the 00s, some players always struggle to stay fit.

The key is to not have too many of these said players in your squad.

One of the major contributors to Arsenal endless injury crisis is we carry too many players with poor injury records;

Abou Diaby
Tomas Rosicky
Yaya Sanogo
Kieran Gibbs
Jack Wilshere
Theo Walcott
Mikel Arteta
Aaron Ramsey

8 players in our current squad who, over the last 5 seasons, have missed a lot of games, and will continue to do so. I would bet that over the last 18 months, at least half of that list has been injured continually throughout.

Every side suffers injuries. According to the

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Calum Chambers and the Baptism of Fire

Originally posted on Arsenal Arsenal:

No not J K Rowling’s latest best seller but an appraisal of the meteoric rise and rise of a young footballer.

callum chambers

There can be no doubt that this young man’s explosive entry onto the Premiership stage has taken more than a few people by surprise. Only at the start of last season did he make his First Team league debut, playing a full ninety minutes of Southampton’s first game of the 2013/14 campaign at right back against West Bromwich Albion and this just seventeen days after signing a new four year contract with the Hampshire club.

Calum had joined Southampton at the tender age of seven and had risen through the Academy ranks until it was announced that he was one of four players promoted to the first team squad at the start of the 2012/13season.

During the next season he made twenty-five appearances in all, twenty-two of them in…

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Your Optimistic Eyes Seem Like Paradise

Originally posted on How Did We Lose In Adelaide:

Kevin Pietersen says on Twitter that he won’t be speaking (on Twitter) about the book or anything subject to the Confidentiality Agreement. Predictably this has had people saying that his involvement, or comment won’t help (whatever it is that needs helping) previously now accusing Kevin Pietersen of being a money-grabber, as well as the usual nonsense about place of birth, previous teams, texting and generally flaunting his fame. Oh, and the other stuff like inconsistency, only batting for himself (as proved, as someone said, by all those not outs to preserve his average – of which there are not many), being arrogant and so on and so forth.

It’s been a gala day for those of us now well used to what passes for considered comment on Kevin Pietersen. The BTL on Andy Wilson’s article is a study in stupidity. While the Clives and AndyinBrums do their best, what is…

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It’s Too Late To Change Events, It’s Time To Face The Consequences

Originally posted on How Did We Lose In Adelaide:

Thought I’d copy my piece on The Full Toss (actually linked the wrong post – it’s on the Sticks and Stones one – but James is always worth a read too and this was a good post) in response to one of their commenters, Peter Clatworthy. I needed to vent. Peter got it. Nothing new, just the same old, same old. But hey, you can read it here if you want.

“I need to get this off my chest Kevin Pietersen caused my “emotions to run high” because in all my days of watching English cricket, only Ian Botham, who wasn’t in his league as a batsman, played the sort of innings that Pietersen did – attack, take a chance, not fearing failure.

I got to see that brilliance in the flesh.I was in Adelaide to see his 158. I saw his 100 at The Oval in his first test…

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I, I Went Off To The Right, Without Saying Goodbye

Originally posted on How Did We Lose In Adelaide:

For the record, and many thanks for my hair stylist for allowing me to pinch their copy so I didn’t have to pay for it, is the set of questions posed by John Etheridge in today’s Sun on Sunday.

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I’ll let you comment at your leisure.

One common theme is that of James Taylor. This is one that has been murmured behind the scenes, but not seen a huge amount of publicity. I believe, if memory serves me well, that Taylor was one around the time of the dismissal that did not lament his passing and actually sort of welcomed it. Let me try to dig that out. That said, not many seem to have rated him since judging by Taylor’s difficulty in getting back into the team. There was also the odd tweet exchange between the two that seemed to not be an exchange of two people hating each…

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Kevin Pietersen claims ‘bullying culture’ in England Cricket team

Originally posted on DZONE:

Kevin Pietersen has alleged that England’s cricket team suffered from a “horrendous” bullying culture and accused the former head coach, Andy Flower, of “ruling by fear” during the Ashes tour.

Nine months after he was controversially sacked in the aftermath of England’s 5-0 whitewash in Australia, Pietersen also implicated the wicketkeeper Matt Prior in a campaign to undermine him but praised England’s captain, Alastair Cook, in his first interview to promote the release on Thursday of KP: The Autobiography.

The South African-born batsman also reiterated his desire to represent his adopted country again despite falling out with Flower and Paul Downton, the managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

“Horrendous. Hugely disturbing,” Pietersen told

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