The Answers we are looking for

The whole of Pakistan mourn about the current thrashing against Bangladesh, which exposed Pakistan Cricket at many fronts. In my last article, when I said that I am extremely worried about Pakistan’s chances this time around, many asked me what my Cricket credentials are. When I said that Shehzad and Umer Akmal should not have been dropped the way they did, people said about me that “He is a student, and unfortunately, he doesn’t know about the game”.

It’s Ok. I believe all of those comments were from the people, who were as disappointed and dishearten seeing Pakistan Cricket in this position in their very own way, like I was. Many abused players and Coaches, and many just stopped watching Cricket altogether. Some with a very heavy heart said that “Yes, defeats are painful, but give these youngsters a chance”, and many raised their voice about the “Tried and tested” ones to be brought back (I was one of them). The reason for all of that activity was the mere fact that as a Pakistan cricket fan, we were shattered, broken into pieces seeing this very team, going from the high’s to the great lows.

As for the series, it is done and we should move forward. The real question remains, is this the end of Pakistan Cricket? Is there no way to revive it? People come up with arguments, such as “restructuring the domestic cricket” and a lot more phrases that I have been hearing from the time I started watching Cricket. I believe that Domestic cricket needs an overhaul, but that’s a long term solution. In the short run, we need to look at the mistakes we did, held someone responsible for the results and try to rectify it in the near future.

To begin finding who is actually responsible for this capitulation, we need a fair reflection of how things went and answer some questions honestly.Questions like is the current lot the best one we have? The answer is pretty much yes (apart from some players who were being forced to ignore). Another question is that is this team is as bad as the results suggest? Or a better performance could have been extracted from the players? Not that long ago, after the 2007 World Cup, Pakistan gave 14 players their debut while playing against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe under Malik captaincy, and with better management, we abled to thrash them with ease. I believe the answer is that these players are not as bad and with a better management, we could have produced better results in the series.

I find it absolutely un-ethical& un-professional to hold our Young Captain (whom I am not a big supporter of) or this young team responsible for the defeat. If anyone deserves to be held responsible for the loss against Bangladesh, it has to be our Coaching staff. But seeing PCB’s policy recently, I don’t believe that they will ever hold Waqar responsible for the defeat. Since PCB won’t sack him, and our coaching staff won’t resign themselves, we are going to pinpoint mistakes that our coaching staff did, and discuss about it, like we always do.

First of all, Waqar and the Coaching staff along with Selectors are guilty for picking up the team, which is just not competitive enough at the International level. They picked up a Captain, who did not have a assured place in the lineup, which will going to always make it hard for him to lead the side. They picked up Saeed Ajmal, without knowing how he is actually bowling after his remodel action, and it looks like his magic is vanished. They dropped Shahzad and Akmal, after investing too much effort and time to develop them as a product, just to drop them at the end when they were supposed to be given a more responsible role in the team. They shatter the confidence of Ahmed Shehzad to an extent that he could not hit a ball against the same bowling attack, against which he scored a scintillating 100, just a year ago in the World T20, after being told that he is not being dropped on the basis of his performance, but his flamboyance. He looked scared, cautious & confused. He was nothing more than just a shadow of what he used to be.

There are not many times when you actually have a clean sweep in a series without blunders, and this time our Coaching staff made sure that they will make enough blunders to sink Pakistan down. Looking at the 1st match, Bangladesh were struggling with 67 for 2 in the 20thover and Pakistan was all over Bangladesh. Azhar Ali was in charge of the team for the first time, and it was natural for him to do a mistake by actually introducing 2 part timers from both end, which eased the pressure on Mushfiqur and Tamim Iqbal. But the real question is, was our Coaching staff sleeping that time? In between overs, they could have sent a message to Azhar that this move would backfire and that he should keep attacking from one end at least, which they didn’t. In the same match, when Pakistan came to chase 300 +, Hafeez was coming off from an imposing 85 as an opener in the practice match against BCB XI, but somehow our Team management thought otherwise and demote him in the order and opened with Sarfaraz. I was one of the many voices who was cheering for Sarfaraz when he opened in the World Cup, but that was because we did not have any other opener inform with Shehzad at that time. This time, opening with Sarfaraz left us vulnerable at the back end of the innings, and we did not had any one to improvise at the death overs to give us a good finish.

Another blunder was seeing Fawad Alam batting at no.6, where he looked completely out of sort. He normally bats at no.3 or 4 at the domestic level, but either our Coach didn’t know that or he was trying to show everyone that he is so naïve that he don’t know what Fawad is capableoff. Fawad is the sort of player that you need to anchor the inning, not to bat at 6, because he is just not for big shots. Having him at 6 is like telling him in person that “we don’t need you at all “.

I cannot comprehend the fact that how our team management is so naïve or incompetent that they cannot define a role to a player in the playing XI? Our batting looks as baffled as it looked in the World Cup and before. Prior to World Cup, it was evident that only Misbah had a defined role, which was to play till the last over. The rest was playing as if they are a driver of a car who is lost in the desert, without any clue as where to go and without any knowledge to what the final destiny is. In the 3rd match, as soon as Azhar got out, our Team management sent Rizwan in. It was supposed to be Rizwan’s duty to improvise from there on as Pakistan was easily looking for 300 and beyond, and it should have been Haris to carry the team till the last over, but as usual, his role was not delineate. He got out just 4 balls later, trying to heave Mashrafe for a long hit over mid – wicket, which left Pakistan on the brink of a collapse. Had he been informed by the team management that he needs to stay there till the end, it would have simplified his role, but as usual our Team management was too lazy to say the least. I am not saying that Pakistan would have won the series had these decisions been taken by the Team management, but having the ability to adapt to a particular situation in modern Cricket is what is the need of an hour, and hour Coaching staff is experienced enough to know the importance of these moments.

Our team management, who is mostly dominated by our Head Coach “Waqar Younis”, needs to be asked these questions as to why Pakistan’s performance on the field has a constant decline. He was a legend of this Country, whom was loved by the people in this country. But in his current stint as a Coach of the National team, he seems to be still in the stardom of the past, and his ego is being too much to handle for this team. He was the Coach when the Spot Fixing scandal came in the media, and his ego was one of the reasons behind Razzaq’s decline, and that was not the only case to remember. His man management skills are being questioned over and over again, and this time around, he isn’t doing any better. But the real question remains to be seen is the current PCB hierarchy have the ability, moral ground or courage to ask these questions to Waqar, and sack him if he won’t satisfy with the answers? The answer is what we are still looking for.

The original post was posted here on April 27, 2015.

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