Was Afridi the reason behind our loss?

Published: October 5, 2012
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16 years at cricket, what more could Afridi possibly want? PHOTO: AFP

Well it was a good ride wasn’t it? We put on a good show for the world. We proved that in the midst of all the trauma, we can still punch and kick hard in cricket’s global events.

But like most times, except in 2009, when the team was led by Younis Khan in 2009, possibly one of our best captains who led in a seriously troubled time, we didn’t have enough talent to go all the way.   

Hafeez is a good captain.

Sometimes he appears to over think stuff like the inventive field placing in Gul’s last over in yesterday’s match; sometimes a little convention, like placing fielders on long off and long on while bowling yorkers does no harm. But overall, he has a sharp and reasonable mind.

However, to create his own legacy, he will seriously need to take a harder line on team selection. In my first post that I wrote for The Express Tribune, I had talked at length about the selection goof-ups and the general confusion that surrounded the World T20 squad selection. Things panned out almost exactly in that manner; in short, as Kamran Abbasi put it, ‘we paid for the sins of our selection’.

Look, this is no time for team bashing.

We did not play badly in the semis. I’m just as heartbroken as most of you, but the Sri Lankans were a formidable opponent. The pitch was difficult and their bowling was terrific. We lost because we had just too many free-loaders in the team.

Maybe things would have been different if Umar Akmal’s value as a higher order batsman for T20 would have been recognised.

Maybe if Nasir Jamshed hadn’t been wrongly ousted? The ICC may want to consider fielding experienced umpires in the bigger games.

But these are minor points.

Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik did not deliver except in that warm-up clash with India which seemed to please everyone, and had everyone convinced that they were the real deal. Well, for the umpteenth time, we have again been given a rude reality check.

The captain and coach were confused throughout the tournament on how to use Arafat and Razzaq. Arafat’s bowling was mostly cannon fodder, with no real value with the bat. Razzaq wasn’t trusted by Hafeez to bowl at crucial times.

So really speaking, that makes four players who had absolutely nothing to add to the World Cup campaign. If Hafeez wants to create his legacy, he will need to confront these issues.

Hafeez was hesitant to drop Malik. Game after game he failed and yet the talent of Asad Shafiq was kept out. He was handicapped in the case of Kamran with him being a wicket-keeper, but maybe he could have played him down the order to ensure the best batsmen have the maximum time at the crease?

As for Shahid Afridi, well it saddens me to even write it, but he needs to be dropped.

It will really hurt not seeing him in the team when we play next, but PCB and all Pakistan cricket fans must move on.

16 years at cricket, what more could Afridi possibly want?

Perhaps it was fitting and equally ironic that 16 years to the day, yesterday, he had scored the record breaking ODI hundred. He may have some performances left in him still, but does he add any meaningful value to the team’s future anymore?

All arguments that he’s a bowler are frankly rubbish. A bowler that bats at number seven?

As for his bowling, that is on a slow decline too!

In 2012, in ODIs, he has taken just 15 wickets in 16 matches at an average of 33.87, decidedly higher than his bowling averages from 2007-2010. Pakistan will always love him for the adrenaline pumping memories he has given, for those thrilling sixes, larger than life wicket celebrations and the frisson of anticipation when he walked out to the batting crease, but it’s painful to watch a supernova struggle like this.

Now, he is hurting Pakistan cricket.

I’m done with the ‘we love you, we trust you’ sentiments but this is professional sport and not a soap opera.

There are too many young cricketers aching for a chance to make it big for Pakistan.

Why should the giants of the past be allowed to stunt growth of the future?

Mohammad Hafeez, as Pakistan captain, it may be up to you so do not block the paths of young and deserving cricketers like Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan, Hammad Azam , Fawad Alam and Raza Hasan.

Allow the future to flourish, give them confidence and be patient.

Now is a time to perhaps give Sarfaraz Ahmed a decent run till we find a competent young wicket-keeper. To stamp your authority as captain, make the hard decisions and stand by them. This should be your legacy.

Well done in this World T20, but bring the cup home next time.

I think all of us would like that very much.

Read more by Hamza here or follow him on Twitter @GumbyAKhan

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Hamza Ahmed Khan

Hamza Ahmed Khan

A risk consultant by profession, cricket-crazed human by heart and a wanderer by choice, Hamza breathes cricket and supports Dr. Aur Billa. He blogs at www.spatoutvicious.wordpress.com and tweets as @GumbyAKhan twitter.com/GumbyAKhan

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.