Pakistan cricket: Being bad has never been this good

Published: November 19, 2011
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Umar Gul (R) celebrates with captain Misbah-ul-Haq after winning the third One Day International (ODI) match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the Dubai cricket stadium in the Gulf emirate on November 18, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

Having watched the whole Test series and the third ODI last night, there is no doubt in my mind that Pakistan should officially be labelled as the most unpredictable cricket team of all time. The theme might sound to some as being repetitive or cliché, but the men in green can be so exhilarating and so exasperating in the same breath that you just can’t stop marvelling at the erratic nature of their game play and even more so at the results they keep coming up with in spite of it.

Even though it is near foolishness to try and predict what the Pakistani team’s make up would be come next November, let alone the next World Cup or any such tournament so far in the future, I think that the last few series have given us a good indication of how the management and the board should go about building a team with the future in their minds for once. I am hopeful that this will be the case, because having listened to the PCB’s new chief I can say that even if his ideas might seem a bit under-cooked at the moment, at least he doesn’t seem senile. This, taking into account the recent history of our board chairmen and their henchmen, is a big plus.

Before, we do discuss the options the team has available to them in terms of playing talent, it is important that the current coaching situation be looked at.

Again, as I have emphasized earlier in this piece and elsewhere in my writings, and most readers would agree with me here, the laws applying to other countries do not apply to us. In a sane country all you would have to do is appoint a person and that would be that. However, in our setup which is always on the brink of imploding, it is not that simple. Thus, any person appointed as coach much portray the maximum amount of tact and the ability to handle inflated egos. This is in addition to the requirements of cricketing acumen. No Pakistani cricketer, in my belief, fits the bill because however tactful and decent Pakistani coaches seem at the beginning, they just somehow start treading on too many toes in the dressing room for the system to run without incident. Thus an experienced foreign coach, free from the petty politics of the team might do some good.

Talent-wise, this country is blessed. Which other team can you name who has three top-notch players in jail, and can still beat the World Cup finalists in a Test series and give them a hard time in ODIs, losing just one of the three matches played?

Even on the barren tracks of the Emirates desert and in spite of help from the fielders being non-existent as a rule, lion-hearted performers like Junaid Khan and Aizaz Cheema keep coming forward. Even if you could rule Cheema out of long-term plans on account of his age, in Junaid, Pakistan has certainly a found a gem, maybe not one as shiny as the long-haired willowy left-armer he endeavours to replace, but a gem he most certainly is. The spin department is in good shape too with Boom Boom Afridi, returning to bolster it, while Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal remain reliable as ever.

The main worry still remains our batting line, with Hafeez evidently just not knowing what to do after he has scored a stylish fifty, Umar Akmal refusing to grow up and make his talent be counted on, and the never-ending search for a reliable second opener starting again due to Butt’s love for money, and Ahmed Shahzad’s apparent lack of something called a brain. (Pardon me but “Son-in-law” Farhat will never be the answer).

Nevertheless, the overall signs are good, and barring another exodus of players from the team on account of in-fighting, or on the chairman’s personal biases, Pakistanis should be a force to reckon with in the near future. Go team green.

Saad Hassan Khan

Saad Hassan Khan

A final year electronic engineering student at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology. His interests lie in sports, reading and writing.

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