As Pakistan lost out their quarter-final tie against Australia, one of the tournament’s favorites, the same kind of exaggerated sentiments were seen on TV and social media, yet again. Scenes of frustrated individuals taking their anger out by breaking TV sets, emotional fools showcasing bangles (chooriyan) that they want our national heroes to wear, because apparently, they’ve ‘disappointed’ fans who wake up for them early morning (as if they’ve been forced to do so). Ex-cricketers gave loathing comments to analyze the team’s performance, it was mind wobbling to see. They went as far as asking the Prime Minister, who is the Patron in Chief of the PCB, to remove the top management in order to prevent the cricketing downfall of the country.
A question for those ‘patriotic’ fans, who’ve been pulling off such publicity stunts – what chances did Pakistan have to win the World Cup in the first place? Former greats, ex-cricketers, who showed over the top animosity towards the team’s performance – what odds would India have, had they played without Kohli, Raina, Ashwin and a few other regulars? Or for that reason any other team. I know most people will come up with answers that will just not make any sense, whatsoever.
To start off, this is not the Pakistan’s strongest team that we would’ve liked to field in a tournament as big as the Cricket World Cup. We lost Ajmal and Hafeez due to the ban, Junaid, Gul and Irfan in the end because of injury problems. In all practical terms, we lost half of the players that would be in the team, any time you would pick a best XI for Pakistan. I don’t think I have to remind people about the loss that we suffered due to the spot-fixing scandal, where we lost 2 of our premier bowlers + 1 batsman, who was in the form of his life.
That’s not all. We are the only team in the top 8 Test playing nations, who haven’t played a single One-day International or Test match on home soil for more than 6 years now. We play our home series in UAE, where pitches are home like, but no place is home except Pakistan itself, no matter how hard we try. Out of the 15 member squad, 10 players have never played a single International game at home, with the other 2 out of 5 having played less than 10 matches at home, while 1 played less than 30 matches at home.
Anyone who follows cricket knows that players are developed in home conditions, so they can go abroad and perform there. As we look to compare nearly everything with India, we will look at the India squad as well, where you will only see Rahane as the player who is being truly developed on foreign soil. The rests are home developed products. Even then, our ‘disappointing’ players go abroad and win a T20 World Cup, qualify in 4 consecutive World T20 semi-finals, beat South Africa in South Africa, India in India and go on to white wash the English and Australian team in our makeshift home ground, being the UAE.
Even with all these issues, Pakistan moved on and tried not to look back. We are a nation that is full of resilience, where we keep on fighting for success even with all the political and social disputes around. This calamities reflect in our team as well. When we won the Asia Cup, not many would have given us a chance. Even in this World Cup, all seemed lost when we failed to win in the first two games. There was a feeling that we were done for the World Cup, and nothing good would come out of it. But we did what we do best; we fought back like lions and reached the quarterfinal stage with four victories in a row.
We successfully defended the lowest total in the tournament when teams find it hard to defend even 300+. We beat South Africa for the first time ever in a World Cup event. We had one of the most inexperienced bowling attacks around, but we never looked like one. We fought it out, with the aggression we have always been known for. We even had the Aussies on tilt with our steaming and aggressive pace bowling. The Adelaide crowd could have never dreamt of a fast bowler from Pakistan, Wahab Riaz, tormenting their best hook/pull-shot player on a slow Adelaide pitch.That famous victory was just inches away from us, and all could have been different had Rahat held on to the catch that cost us the semi-final berth. For the first time in such a long time I am sure, the Australians would have tasted their own medicine, which no one likes to do. Wahab’s prolific performance even made former greats of the game come on Twitter and praise his ability.
At the back-end of the World Cup, I find it way too easy to criticize the team’s performance, and pin point the loop holes that we have in our cricket system, but that’s not what I am going to do. I am going to celebrate, and cheer all the amazing moments we had throughout the World Cup. I am going to celebrate whatever these cricketers manage to achieve,even with such little resources, all the moments of excitement and adrenaline rush they managed to give us in these difficult times.
I think we should celebrate Afridi and Misbah’s amazing career and the performances that they produced for Pakistan over the years. We should celebrate 5 fifties from our captain in 7 innings that he played in this tournament. We should celebrate what Misbah contributed to the team, when we were at our lowest point after the spot-fixing scandal, precisely, his captaincy throughout the tournament, which was of the highest class. We should celebrate Wahab’s spell from the quarter-final that made the likes of Watson and Clarke mere ordinary. We should celebrate the first ever hundred by a Pakistani Wicket Keeper in a World Cup. We should celebrate all the highs instead of the lows in Afridi’s career. We should not remember him for what he did in the past few weeks, we should remember him for what he did over the past 16 years, especially what he did for us in the 2009 T20 triumph and World Cup 2011. We should celebrate the emergence of our young fast bowling attack. Many thought it was the weakest attack possible, but even then, it proved potent enough to dismantle anyone, on any given day.
We, as a nation, have too much negativity, which we go through each and every single day. These cricketers come from the same society and have the same kind of stress and pressure to go through. We have had enough arguments about the flaws in our domestic structure, which won’t get better overnight. It’s a long process that will take a long time to fix, but we need to stay calm. There is no need to press the panic button. We lost to the host nation, who were playing with their full team, on their ground and were labelled as favorites by nearly everyone prior to the tournament’s start.
There is no need for negativity as Pakistan’s cricket is not dying, not now by any means. We have a decent enough roster of 30 or more players or so, who can represent this country at all levels in the near future. All we need to do is talk less, work more. We need to identify the areas that need attention and start working on it, focusing on the task at hand and try to achieve the target within a proper frame of time. But for now, we,as a nation, should celebrate what we achieved in the 2015 World Cup with a below par team, than to mourn the subtle defeat.
The original post was posted here on 25th March, 2015