Younis and Afridi, do us a favour and never come back!

Published: June 25, 2013
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Already there are whispers that Younis and Afridi are to be recalled for the impending tour of the Caribbean. Once again the fans will be left enraged and frustrated rather than optimistic when the squad lists are revealed.

The euphoria in the air was palpable. The Pakistan cricket team had just wrapped up a historic 3-0 series whitewash over the much-fancied and star-studded English side, buoyant after their Ashes triumph, and were looking to affirm their status as the number one Test team in the world with a successful tour of Asia.

The ghosts of ‘that’ painful English tour two years prior had finally been exorcised; the upcoming ODI and T20 series seemed a mere formality. The Pakistan team had always been more comfortable in the limited over formats, and the downtrodden English team was there for the taking.

What followed, took everyone – except perhaps for the English – by total surprise, as team England unleashed a thrashing and a half on Misbah’s bewildered men in green. The bowling looked toothless at the mercy of Messrs Cook and Pietersen, and tearaway quick Steve Finn left the batting in tatters, simply unable to cope with his pace and bounce. The warning signs were there, but were left unheeded.

Victory in the Asia Cup provided temporary relief, yet Pakistan was pushed to the brink by lowly Bangladesh, with only their greater experience in pressure situations finally getting them across the finish line. Newly appointed and highly respected head coach Dav Whatmore’s tenure had gotten off to the perfect start.

The happiness and optimism was all too brief and short-lived. Series losses to Sri Lanka and Australia followed, and questions were finally being asked. Skipper Misbahul Haq, Younis Khan and even the loveable rogue that is Shahid Khan Afridi’s positions came under heavy scrutiny.

With good reason.

Younis – a reluctant performer in the ODIs at best – averaged a pitiful 18.9 since the ODI drubbing at the hands of the English. Shahid Afridi’s numbers also tell a desperate tale, averaged just 19.25 with the willow and a pathetic 82.10 with the ball, with just 10 wickets in 20 matches in the same period. Misbah too paid a dear price, having had to relinquish the T20 captaincy to all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, and saying goodbye to his spot for the 2012 ICC T20 World Cup.

Another series loss – this time away to South Africa – finally seemed to have broken the proverbial camel’s back, as both Younus and Afridi were shown the door and unceremoniously dumped from the ODI team. With Pakistan embarking on a tour of the British Isles with their eyes firmly set on winning the penultimate ICC Champions Trophy, a feeling of cautious optimism prevailed.

Yet, once again it was a false dawn, as Pakistan’s hapless batting line-up once again collapsed in a heap in one game after the other, leaving the fanatical support dejected and angry with their team’s insipid showing. The focus this time is on the perpetual misfits that are Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik and bumbling wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.

It is an ideal opportunity for the powers-that-be to start afresh, to rebuild the side with some new faces, eager to do well and prove their mettle at the highest level. A time to reward those who have proved themselves through the daily grind of domestic cricket, and recognise them for their efforts with a ticket to the big show.

Yet once again, nothing seems to change. Already there are whispers that Younis and Afridi are to be recalled for the impending tour of the Caribbean. The revolving door of the same old withered faces continues to spin without hindrance or disturbance. Once again the fans will be left enraged and frustrated rather than optimistic when the squad lists are revealed.

Younis has never been comfortable with coloured clothing in the first place, yet Afridi’s recall will be the biggest bone of contention.

A glorified minnow basher – the likes of Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh will surely be quaking in their boots when they hear his name – at best, Lala has been surplus to requirements ever since Saeed Ajmal became the number one spinner in the team. Add to that the deceptive off-break of opener Mohammad Hafeez, not to mention Afridi’s continued imbecility with the bat, and his position becomes completely untenable. If the Pakistan team is to move forward then he needs to be kept sidelined, as a stark reminder to the others that no matter how big a ‘star’ you are or may have once been, you are not above the team, regardless of how popular you are with the masses.

Afridi should stick to the profitable domestic T20 circuit and making television ads for soft drinks and shampoos. International cricket has more than had its fill of Lala’s (occasional) magic.

A clean break from the post-2003 WC generation of Pakistani cricketers is the need of the hour. With the 2015 World Cup also on the horizon, a roadmap needs to be put in place.

Misbahul Haq’s batting – with its rediscovered attacking approach – has gotten a new lease of life, and he looks sharper than ever in the field. He commands the respect of his charges by sheer performance, and has the tactical nous as well as personal stature to keep the team united and competing as one. He must be surrounded by those who are not jaded by the grind of international cricket, or those more concerned with building their personal legacies rather than fulfil the team’s needs.

The ‘like for like replacement’ mindset that has been prevailing in selection is unsuccessful and futile, a new combination of specialist batsmen, wicketkeeper and bowlers need to be created. Bits and pieces of broken glass such as Afridi, Razzaq and Malik will always remain as such, and will always let the team down when it truly matters.

For the coaches, team management and selectors, the time to make strong, firm and bold decisions is now.

Ahmed Zulfiqar Khawaja

Ahmed Zulfiqar Khawaja

A business owner and avid cricket fan based in UAE. He tweets as @azkhawaja1 (twitter.com/azkhawaja1).

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

  • Bilal

    For once, ET has published a rational blog piece on cricket. Well done, AZ. Agree with every single word you said.

    I can’t believe my eyes when I read that Afridi’s media pals are building space for their favorite to not only come back but come back as captain!!! The guy averages 20 with the bat and 80 with the ball. Such a cricketer isn’t an international class player. But apparently he’s coming back as captain!!

    Only in Pakistan!!!

    Plus, they’re talking about dropping Misbah from the team. Misbah is the only international class ODI batsman we have and one of our only two international class test batsmen. Additionally, Misbah was the only Pakistani to be named to the team of the tournament as picked by an ICC panel after the Champions Trophy. But if Afridi’s media wizards are to be believed, Misbah is on his way out too despite all the work he has done to rebuild Pakistan into a respectable side.

    Only in Pakistan!!!Recommend

  • Faizan

    very well written..and i agree with the article that these two should be kept aside. Pakistan should look forward to prepare for the world cup 2015. Misbah, though he is playing well and should continue to be a part of the team..PCB should announce Hafeez as the captain from now to the worldcup 2015 making it obvious for everyone that no ‘politics’ will lead to a change in the captain..This might just play in favor of Pakistan as from now what i can see is Afridi making a comeback with a strong performance against the minnows (Zimbabwe) and then the next step to get the captaincy taking advantage of the champions trophy turmoil. Get in better performers and not the “stars”.. We still have time to make a good team for the WC’15. Recommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    How many times will we go on giving chances to tried and tested people? Younis khan is not upto scratch anymore,it’s natural,it happens with the passage of time,he should retire gracefully himself.We need to include new players in the team.We can’t keep going back to the old players again and again.Afridi should only be restricted to 20/20 squad.Don’t bring back the players who shoul’ve announced their own retirement months ago.Younis khan wasn’t performing well,if he was consistently performing well and getting runs then his age wouldn’t have mattered but his performance went down considerably in recent times,so he must retire from ODI’s now.Recommend

  • Spigot !

    I am all for bringing in new guys and pulling the strings in the right direction but then again, it is not a case of changing tires of a car. It’s not as simple as taking out all four wheels out simultaneously and fit in new ones. A smooth transition from an old to new team can only be maintained by striking a good balance between ‘Experienced’ and the ‘New’ players.

    Ups and downs are part of any sportsman’s life and you cannot just give a stick to someone who has been a match winner in your playing eleven. IF you want the likes of Younis and Afridi out of the squad , then you should be doing it for the right reasons. I personally like Umar Akmal since he has a good variety of shots in his book. The only problem is with his shot selection at times. He has to bat up in the batting order to learn. He has played almost 100 ODI’s for Pakistan and I guess he still has not played a single match in Pakistan. We do not have domestic structure. Before bashing the likes of experienced candidates ( Younis or lala), get things right from the grass root level so we can find Commendable replacements. It is useless to throw the experienced players out without any significant players backing the team up.

    We need match winners in our team …not the whiners !

    Peace !Recommend

  • Sreesanth Srinivasan

    As someone from across the border with a lot of time in his hands due to recent events, I just can’t take this Pakistan team anymore!!!
    .
    What Pakistan needs to do is to get rid of all its batsmen. Appoint a bowler as the captain, hopefully Saeed Ajmal if he is willing. Build a team of young batsmen around Ajmal and I am sure these batmen will try their darned best to reach double digits consistently.
    .
    The rot begins at the PCB and I for one am happy with the recent appointment of Najam Sethi as head of the PCB. Whatever anyone says, the fact is Mr. Sethi is a person of high integrity and he will ensure that cronyism in the PCB ends.
    .
    One may ask, what about Misbah and Hafeez? I have been watching Misbah for some time and I can tell you that he plays for only one team: Himself. He has no situational awareness and is the one man in the Pakistan team who can consistently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As for Hafeez, I have a soft corner for him but it should be the new captain’s call. Anyway one half of him is a bowler.Recommend

  • Zunair Ejaz

    Pakistan’s average age is 27 (8 players between 31-39), higher than England (24) India (23) New Zealand (26) and we still are expecting a good performance from these veterans.. Ridiculous!Recommend

  • Faizan

    and you think lala’s short selection is really good ? he is the most irresponsible player who throws away his wicket for no good reason, and just a question on what basis they should call lala back..he was dropped for a reason and being brought back without any performence..that tells the [email protected] !: Recommend

  • Parvez

    If Afridi comes back it would be exactly in keeping with our national mindset – we repeat the same mistake every time thinking that the result will be different the next time.
    Recommend

  • Sajjad Khan

    Its not the way to treat our seniors, look like India They never goes with all new players but drop one by one and if some new face perform well then they adopt senior’s spot! so with the new team in CT what we’ve done! shameful!!! Lala average in last Matches Is far good than Farhat, and also, he can ball and field well, but we keep Farhat, Shoaib & Akmal and drop Lala and Younis! YRecommend

  • Zaki

    @Bilal:
    If you have a player like M. Hafeez as your T-20 captain and ODI vice-captain then whats wrong with Afridi? Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal are few more laudable performers.

    Its a fact that we need to inject new blood in order to make our team stronger but not at the cost of just Afridi and Younis. All these black sheeps need to be sacked immediately. Hafeez (the Professor of Zero-logy) is our ODI and Test opener! Even Abdul Rehman can bat better than him if given adequate chances.Recommend

  • Faizan

    yea Lala better than hafeez..you must be kidding..lets compare their stats, afridi averages around 19 in the last year and dont say he is batting down the order, he is been given adequate chances to bat but he always throws his wicket, Secondly if he was in the team as a bowler then his bowling records in the last year or so is a sad story. While Hafeez consistently averages over 30 and is one of the most dependable bowlers!
    A question still remains to be answered if Afridi was dropped that was due to his bad performance, what has he done during this time period to be called back??
    i Hope you people start supporting Pakistan instead of individuals!! @Zaki: Recommend

  • Omar

    Just remove Iqbal Qasim and things will start getting better from there on. InshaAllahRecommend

  • asif

    where is anwar ali. since 2006 when he won under 19 world cup. this guy never get a chance to be in a senior team. 7 year of wait for a takented player. he is also an alrounder which we are lacking in the team. so why not giving him a chance. u know why? because he is from karachi. Recommend

  • Que

    I am all for Afridi to captain the side!! The team needs an aggressive Captain and Afridi is the man!!!! Go Afridi! Recommend

  • Faizan

    i still dont understand what do you mean by at the “cost of Afridi”, he is good for nothing, throwing away his wicket at crucial times and his bowling has been a sad story for quite a time now, and well your hatred for professor is quite evident who is a better player now. Support Pakistan first and then your “favorite individuals”[email protected]: Recommend

  • http://google Azmath Azzu

    Afridi shld b captain..r els vice captain…Recommend

  • imi

    Yeh we have great replacments of afridi and younis huh? Shit article with no point.. First get the replacements from domestic cricket , thn talk abt young guns… Atleast thy hve got experience.. Plus u can’t even find replacment of akmal sigh..Recommend

  • zia shah

    Pakistan need afridi back misba should do us all a favour and quit.they should also bring back abdul rasaq and why was akmal and gul left out? Younis khan should stay out thats for sure but in my eyes boom boom afridi is the man for pakistan!Recommend

  • Zaki

    @Faizan:
    First Thing: I am talking for team’s betterment not for personal likes/ dislikes.

    Second Thing: Forget Afridi – if you have better player than Afridi then he should be given a chance. If you say Hafeez’s bowling is better than his batting then he should be batting @ no. 6/7 as an allrounder.

    Third Thing: Professor sahab’s Test batting record is as under for his lovers:
    Career: 32 Matches (Avg: 35; 50s: 8; 100s: 5; Zero:3)
    Against Bangladesh: 5 Matches (Avg: 52)
    Against England: 4 Matches (Avg: 47)
    Against New Zealand: 2 Matches (Avg: 14)
    Against South Africa: 9 Matches (Avg: 17)
    Against Sri Lanka: 6 Matches (Avg: 51)
    Against West Indies: 5 Matches (Avg: 28)

    Looks Good! isn’t it? Now lets see something more interesting :)

    Hafeez’s performance in various countries:
    In Bangladesh: 2 Matches (Avg: 68)
    In England: 1 Matches (Avg: 95) (one inning and he scored 95 in it)
    In New Zealand: 2 Matches (Avg: 14)
    In South Africa: 6 Matches (Avg: 12)
    In Sri Lanka: 3 Matches (Avg: 53) (six innings and a highest score of 196 – total runs 315)
    In West Indies: 2 Matches (Avg: 12)
    In UAE (home): 8 Matches (Avg: 40)

    The above stats are clearly showing his incompetency as a genuine opener! It also shows that he is an ordinary and average level player who should not be an automatic selection under any circumstances. This kinda stat is very common in sub-continent.

    For his bowling; yes he is a great bowler in ODIs but in Tests, he deserves no place at all.Recommend

  • Zaki

    @Sreesanth Srinivasan:
    With all due respect if you say that Mr. Najam Sethi is a man of integrity then you know nothing about Pakistan and its politics and its cricket. Sethi is given the charge as a reward because he was the care taker CM of Punjab and he made sure that NS won most of the seats from Punjab. Najam Sethi is a journalist who should remain on what he is good at. Cricket is not his baby! you will see in coming time, our cricket will go further down Recommend

  • Faizan

    @Zaki:
    i don’t think you understood my question at all so i shall repeat, WHY SHOULD AFRIDI BE SELECTED AGAIN WHEN HE WAS DROPPED BECAUSE OF HIS BAD PERFORMANCE?
    and just to answer your stats you don’t become a top ranked player in ICC rankings if you are an average player!Recommend

  • Zaki

    @Faizan:
    I do! please once again read my Point # 2. I have mentioned clearly that if a better option is available then Afridi should be dropped.
    .
    Its a fact that Afridi was in the team due to his bowling and he has been bowling wonderfully over the last couple of years. Since, his bowling became impotent and lost its rhythm then he should be dropped and he was dropped due to his bad performance.
    .
    Now Afridi is selected once again because Malik wasn’t successful. Thats the dilemma of our selection process, they dont have any logic/ goal/ criteria behind selecting any team. If A has not performed well then B is selected and A is dropped. And if B also does not perform then A is once again selected because to no reason!Recommend

  • Faizan

    i do agree with you over the point of selection process but we do have better replacements of malik rather than going back to Afridi.. and just to clear one thing Malik was selected as a batsmen while Afridi as you yourself mentioned is a bowler, so he cant be malik’s [email protected]: Recommend

  • The Rebel

    One thing I’ve learned during my life is to never argue with the blind Afridi supporters. They got nothing to back their wishes of getting him into the team. He will play a handy innings once in a blue moon (like he did against SA when he made 84), and suddenly everyone is willing to embark on his bandwagon.

    Players like Afridi, Younis and Razzaq are past it now. As long as Misbah keeps fit and keeps performing, age shouldn’t be a matter of concern. I say build the team around him for the 2015 World Cup, after which a new ODI captain should be chosen, preferably Hafeez. We need a young, vibrant and an energetic side who can also field well, just like the Indians.
    Players like Hammad Azam, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Harris Sohail and Mohammad Rizwan should be drafted into this side.

    Also, Afridi was dropped for a reason from this side. His bowling performances took a massive hit during the last 2 years, and we all knew he couldn’t bat anyway. So what has he managed to do in the past 6 months that suddenly people are sounding him out for a comeback? It’s ludicrous. Typical Pakistani mentality. Never learn.Recommend

  • Zaki

    @The Rebel:
    Somehow I am agreed with your points except Misbah and Hafeez thing.
    .
    I have noticed that in the last couple of years, it is only Misbah who has not been able to make just one batsman if not the whole line-up. As soon as he gets a chance, he drops Asad Shafiq – batsman like him should be groomed as they are a class-act and can become a back-bone of any batting line-up.
    .
    Instead Misbah & Hafeez made a group who laud each other and irony that they included Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik in that group also. These 4 senior players never allowed youngsters to cement their place in the squad.
    .
    Now lets talk about Ajmal, he is also 35+ and now reaching his twilight era. He will be replaced sooner or later but Mr. Misbah ul Haq sahab has not produced one single replacement of him. Even Abdul Rehman is also never given adequate chances (by the way Rehman is also not a youngster). So Raza Hasan and any other off-spinner should have been groomed.
    .
    These are just few major things which I highlighted; if I start making a list then it will be dragged to several pages.
    .
    As you have mentioned a problem with Afridi fans; same theory goes with Misbah and Hafeez fans as well.
    .
    Please, in your response, DO NOT INCLUDE AFRIDI as I am not at all talking of him. It is a fact that I am a big big fan of Afridi but I am more interested in Pakistan Cricket Team rather than any specific player.
    ;;
    regardsRecommend

  • Faizan

    but your arguments dont show that..you are clearly bias when it comes to Afridi. I agree with rebel the team should be build around Hafeez now!. i think the only problem you have with Malik(well even i have one) and with Hafeez is that they are somehow a replacements for Afridi and esp Hafeez who just might be the next captain(which blind Afridi supporters dont want)..is that the reason you dont like Hafeez ? @Zaki: Recommend

  • Zaki

    @Faizan:
    I can not understand the reason behind Hafeez’s selection as an opener in all formats. He should not be in Tests (under any circumstances); in ODI he is ok if he bats lower down the order since his bowling plays a vital role these days; in T20s he can come up in the order as and when required – no issues with it.
    .
    The problem remains the same; we do not have any proper/ good alternative. And the main culprits are our management, selection committee and captain.
    – Hammad Azam could have been groomed by now
    – Ovais Zia looked promising in a couple of matches he played
    – Umar Amin is useless if you play him at number 6/7
    – Raza Hasan has all the talent to become a good strike bowler but never given chance
    – Anwar Ali could also become a very useful allrounder but captain doesnt trust him
    .
    After Yousuf, we have just one complete batsman and that is Asad Shafiq and sadly we are making mess of him.Recommend

  • The Rebel

    @Zaki: The only criticism I have of Hafeez is that he seldom performs with the bat outside the subcontinent. However, he is still a terrific batsman in subcontinent conditions and coupled with his clever bowling, he is a vital cog in the current ODI and T20 sides. Ever since he has made his comeback into the Pakistan national side, he’s been one of the best performers for our team. I remember the year in which his batting was clicking match after match, don’t exactly remember if it was 2011 or 2012, and he was in the top 10 run scorers in the world in that year. So dropping him in my eyes would be a huge mistake, especially as we don’t have anyone in the current lineup who could take over as captain from Misbah when he eventually does retire.
    Regarding the point you made about Ovais Zia, PLEASE NO. He is just another batsman in the mould of Afridi and Imran Nazir, and we don’t need an opener at this stage. We don’t need batsmen in our team who’s role model in batting is Afridi.
    Umar Amin looked really promising in the CT13, however coming in at 6-7 he’s totally wasted. I agree with you on this one. He should be coming in at either 4-5.
    Regarding Kamran Akmal’s inclusion, I don’t think we have any other alternative at the moment. We have tried Sarfaraz Ahmed, Zulqarnain and Adnan. None of them were up to scratch especially in their batting. At least Kamran gives you a little something extra in his batting. For me his best position is as an opener. Rizwan Ahmed is the only keeper I can think of whom we haven’t tried yet, and other than that I really don’t see who could replace Akmal currently.Recommend

  • The Rebel

    After doing some digging at Cricinfo regarding Hafeez, his ODI stats show me that he has taken 57 wickets in 63 matches in the last 2 years (2011-2013*) while his average with the bat has been 32.98. Whereas everyone’s beloved Afridi averages a measly 20.81 with the bat during the same period, and has taken 60 wickets in 48 matches. However, hold your horses. His wicket hauls include 5 wickets in a match against Afghanistan, 5 against Canada, 5 against Kenya and 8 against Bangladesh (in 5 matches against them). So his record as a glorified minnow basher is irrefutable.Recommend

  • Zaki

    @The Rebel:
    Hafeez in limited overs deserves a place and that is what my point was. But for tests, you got to be performing in all conditions which he is not (as accepted by you also). And we have few better alternatives available in domestics to be included in tests.
    .
    For Kamran Akmal: please go through this article by Hassan Cheema, it will give you complete picture about his performance!
    http://fiverupees.com/2013/06/26/the-value-of-kamran-akmal
    .
    The bottom line is Hafeez is not gonna be dropped and Afridi will be selected for WI tour :) So lets see how Afridi performs in his yet another comeback!Recommend

  • Zaki

    @The Rebel:
    There was a detailed report on cricinfo depicting Pakistan’s batting performance over the last 3-4 years. Hafeez’s performance could also be seen from the following link:
    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/641647.html
    .
    Now you should agree by now that as far as batsman is concern, he is not performing good enough to be retain in the side. However, since his bowling is very effective therefore he should be in limited overs format. The reason behind he not being dropped from tests is his good relationships with his captian and management.Recommend

  • Kuckoo

    Hasn’t Younus retired from limited overs cricket?Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Win-or-Lose-We-Still-Love-u-Team-Pakistan/182383688454102 Musadiq Khan

    Honestly speaking, this blog shows immaturity of the blogger. Afridi is the most fit player you have according to the latest fitness report. Did you see your performance in the Champions trophy? You have not a single player who has the potential of finsihing off things. Moreover, his last tour with bat against SA showed that he has still a lot left in him. He was your second highest scorer and I want him back badly. In fact, Pakistan needs him back as captain! And for Younis I would say

    you as a blogger seems childish who is raising finger at a classy player

    Recommend

  • http://en.cricnama.com/sharjah-sixes-2013-pcb-denies-noc-to-shahid-afridi-umar-akmal/ Muhammad Asad

    An interesting article, but the point is, why only Shahid Afridi and Younus Khan. Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal also in bad form but the selection of these players was not criticized.Recommend

  • http://en.cricnama.com/sharjah-sixes-2013-pcb-denies-noc-to-shahid-afridi-umar-akmal/ Shahid Khan

    An interesting article, but the point is, why only Shahid Afridi and Younus Khan. Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal also in bad form but the selection of these players was not criticized. The reality is Pakistan still need “mad” cricketers like Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal for the “mad” cricket format aka T20.Recommend