CRICKET DEBACLE AND ITS AFTERMATH
All eyes are now focused on the PCB patron - President Musharraf - to salvage the cricket affairs, which have gone in a shambles.
KHALID BUTT, BUREAU CHIEF, LAHORE
Aug 14 - 20, 2006
Against all hopes of Pakistan making a match in the crucial Third Test against England on the final day the result was a total surrender. So England, already 1-0 up after their old Trafford victory, clinched the decisive Headingly Test by a convincing margin of 167 runs to skittle out Pakistan for a paltry 155 runs.
Pakistan had been set a challenging target to score 325 runs with all their wickets intact. But the improbable task considering the Pakistan's track record, it was asking too much from them. What surely rankled the home cricket fans that the team failed to rise to the occasion?
The main weakness was that they never looked like a team. From the inevitable failure of yet another opening pair - Salman and Taufiq - to a clueless skipper Inzimam continuing his lackluster form and leadership, the team appears to have not learnt any lesson to improve their various known weak areas. After their heartwarming performance in the first innings, Pakistan was back to square one with abysmal performance, which was tantamount to a monumental letdown.
There appeared to be no game plan, no will to fight and as against an inspired England team, Pakistan squad looked like a bunch of novices.
Inzimam has clearly shown signs of visible decline and is no longer in command or a source of inspiration. The known weaknesses of all the squad and a proper game plan and strategy is missing from Pakistan team especially when it comes under pressure. So much for its much publicized super coach and the "gora paltan" gathered around by him at a huge cost to the PCB.
The equally clueless PCB chief now on a prolonged sojourn in England is equally responsible for this most disgraceful and unacceptable performance. As we are informed that next England tour of Pakistan is as far away as in 2012, so much is left for the planning of the PCB and its chairman. It is not the loss of a Test match or the series, which is being lamented, it is a lack of any effort to plug the whole set of known weak areas and enforce a proper management of cricket affairs being questioned.
Almost all leading former test players, from Imran Khan, Intikhab, Aamir Sohail, Hanif, Aquib, Javed Miandan to Majid Khan have all been raising their voice on the matter from time to time. Here is how some of leading former exponents of the game looked at the latest cricket debacle.
Imran Khan, Pakistan's most successful former test captain noted the lack of spine and strategy in the national team, as also poor record of openers on the tour. Bred on slow and low bounce Pakistani wickets they were never equipped to have the technique for English wickets where the ball moves off the pitch. He also saw Inzimam's reluctance to lead from the front and thus inspired his teammates while facing heavy odds. He only saw the emergence of Yousaf and Younus as front rank batsmen as the positives of tour, which has been won by England without much resistance.
He also rated Shahid Nazir as the discovery of the tour but found the performance of Danish Kaneria as disappointing. He found the umpiring highly atrocious and blamed PCB for not only poor planning for the important England tour but their handling of ICC decision about umpiring appeals as most unwise and inexplicable.
Quite in the same vein some other leading lights of Pakistan cricket, like Ramiz Raja, Intikhab Alam and Aamir Sohail have lambasted the team management for its poor planning and held both the coach and captain responsible for their poor handling and lack of proper strategies on this crucial tour of England. Shafqat Rana, a former test cricketer and PCB official, known for his clear thinking, considers the handling of team as far from satisfactory. Aamir Sohail, a former captain and Chairman of Selection committee, known for his candid views, went so far as to demand patron of cricket board, President Musharraf, to show the door both to the overrated English coach Woolmer and the inept ad hoc Chairman Shaharyar Khan, who have made Pakistan cricket a laughing stock through their poor handling and policies.
My mind went way back to 1978 when Pakistan cricket had been facing similar self-inflicted wounds, with some leading players being kept away by the cricket authorities at that time more on egoistic ground, had sent a team to England under the captaincy of Wasim Bari. The team was predictably routed as is the present team, which has been selected by none other than Wasim Bari, the current Chairman of Selection Committee. Is the history repeating itself, I am left wondering? The time has come to do something to pack off the "gora paltan" and do the house cleaning. Let cricket affairs be run by a properly elected body and not by a clueless ad hoc chairman, making the hay at the cost of the PCB resources for self and a gang of cronies. All eyes are now focused on the PCB patron - President Musharraf - to take an appropriate action to salvage the cricket affairs, which have gone in a shambles.