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Pakistan Cricket: Cricket by Chance or is it just Unpredictability!

England's Chris Jordan celebrates after winning the 3rd T20I and the series
England's Chris Jordan celebrates after winning the 3rd T20I and the series

The performance of the Pakistan cricket team in the recent ODI series here in England compelled me to put my point of view based on my own frustration and what I heard on the media by experts discussing and debating the issue of this dismal display of trained professionals in the game.

My article appeared on the web pages of CricketWorld.com, which resulted in highly encouraging response. Some very interesting comments including the one that indicated unpredictability of our team were received.

Yes, at a given time our team is capable of beating the best of teams in the world and on their own ground or at any other international venue. For example in Sydney. On the other end they can go down to even the babes in a series 3-nil, shocking their followers into despair.

Some even smell of a rat in this frequent unpredictability. Especially those who have been following the game at all levels. Disciplinary actions by our own Board and ICC points toward tendency of players to fall to personal greed at the cost of national pride. But these comments are unfair in the absence of solid proof in each and every incident of losing a game. Let us be honest and look at the positive side when our team beats the hell out of a world top team. Will we then accuse the losing team of having fallen to greed?

So, what are we left with? Let us give the benefit of doubt to our teams’ inbuilt tendency to unpredictability! Let us accept the fact that we have to appreciate defeat and success as part of the game and be happy and look forward to ICC’s ratings towards individual as well as team’s performances.

The positive side is that we let the individual look after whether he opts for Pride or Price!  In the same way, let the Board face the reality of its teams’ placement, because that is going to reflect on their performance! It will be recorded by  historians for posterity. Why do we as enthusiast get so passionately involved?  After all it is the very game that teaches us about sportsman’s spirit. Enjoy the game and let the best team win on a given day.

But then, we enthusiasts expect to see competitiveness at its best. Go down fighting back is what we as spectators wish to watch. The game’s competitiveness demands it. Shouldn’t we complain about it? What is wrong about it? Let the people at the helm of affairs take it in their stride. After all, when you take a position of responsibility you are bound to conduct yourself in a way that reflects your eligibility  for such a position.

During the last T20 at Headingley, what we witnessed raised a number of questions about the captaincy. Right or wrong, but ardent followers go into the intricacy of each decision taken on the field. I wish and pray the captain himself will review and may consider relinquishing his position and let the selectors try other senior and experienced players for the job, while he should concentrate on his batting prowess.  Good team work revolves around delegation, consultation and in accepting the reality.

In sheer frustration most of the critics on social media have taken extreme views and have even predicted the loss of the T20 series for non-cricketing reasons. I believe we as ardent supporters of the game should restrict ourselves to cricketing reasons in terms of selection, performance, match strategy and commitment to fighting spirit.

Individual playing under patronage be left to their patrons, to protect their own hard- earned reputation if they wish. The choice is theirs.

I recollect two specific cases from the past. One is from a reputed cricketing family in Pakistan who could not make it to represent Pakistan, though he had all the credentials in terms of relationship at the helm of affair at that time. He passed away having a lifetime of regrets for the denied opportunity. Though he thought he qualified on his cricketing prowess. The other a celebrity in his own right. He could not get into the Indian side despite having his very close relation at the helm of cricket’s establishment in India. He crossed borders and was awarded a place in the Pakistan team on his own merit. He retired at the right time in his career to become a great promoter and organizer of the game introducing Day & Night cricket.

Having written this piece up to the above paragraphs, before the last T20 was played and lost by Pakistan last night. Somehow the prediction above has become a reality now. We have lost the series. But, is it due to non-cricketing reasons? I am not so sure. It is evident that we lost the game due to performance. Babar Azam once again failed to perform according to his reputation of number one batsman in ICC ODI ranking. Mohammad Rizwan failed to play his role in the last few overs in order to ensure that he returns unbeaten. I am not alone saying this. SKY’s official commentators were analytical and loud. Rizwan lost the opportunity to add the most crucial few runs that could have ensured our win. While our team went down fighting but it lacked match strategy and planning as the proceedings of the match developed! This situation required instant and in-the-ground redress. Here one is reminded of Javed Miandad’s rapid reflection & instant action.

Having said that let us not deny the England side of their well-deserved win only because our team did not perform. Let us appreciate their response to what seemed an easy total to their batting lineup to number seven batters and sloggers. Also, we should learn from the fact that they had a strategy to tackle Usman Qadir. He was taken to task from the very first ball he bowled. Not without proper evaluation and understanding given to the batters by their coaches! Though our attack forced them to the last over, they did not lose sight of how to defend and achieve a win.

A review of all the six matches, three ODIs and three T20s should offer learning curves to our team and management. The England team have done their homework for the forthcoming T20 World Cup in terms of playing the spinners in both bowling and batting departments. They are well poised to take on the reigning champions. While the lessons learnt would come handy on our next assignment in the West Indies, scheduled in less than a week.

As spectators we should be prepared to accept the truth; may the better team win.

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