Pakistan’s Cricket Debacle

16 مارچ 2010
A year is a long time in cricket. Last year in June, the Pakistan cricket team gave joy to the people with their heroic victory in the ICC Twenty20 World Championships in England. The victory was remarkable, especially when you consider the difficult phase the sport in Pakistan was going through. The country was deprived of cricket because of the terror threat.
International teams refused to tour Pakistan due to security concerns, especially after the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore lastApril. Pakistan rarely got the chance to play international cricket during that period. And yet the team, led by Younis Khan, played some inspiring cricket to lift the World Cup at the Lord’s.
That victory should have shown Pakistan cricket the path to revival. But tragically, the team, or rather the unity in the team, collapsed immediately after their famous victory in London.
There were suspicions about infighting in the team when Pakistan middle-order batsmen came up with some strange performances against Sri Lanka in the Test series. While their performance against New Zealand was not that bad, they simply could not stand up to the Australians. They came away without a single win and it seemed Mohammed Yousuf, the captain, was unable to stamp his authority. Yousuf, who is known for his exquisite timing with the bat, perhaps got it wrong when he criticised some of the players of his team for breaking team unity ?in Australia.
If Yousuf made a mistake, the Pakistan Cricket Board did no better, either. Their decision to punish senior players with international bans is questionable. In fact, this is where the problem lies in Pakistan cricket at the moment. They lack leaders in the team and on the board as well.
When Inzamamul Haq was leading the Pakistan team, many experts felt that the burly batsman lacks the ability to be a great captain. Perhaps, that was true, but Inzamam, at the end of the day, was someone for whom every member of the team had great respect. Under him, they played as a team.
The victory at the Twenty20 World Championship, under Younis Khan, gave hope. People had reasons to believe that the team was finally on the right track. But that turned out to be a false hope. It seems both Younis and Yousuf are incapable of becoming true leaders.
It’s sad to see a team with such talented players in the middle of yet another storm. Pakistan is second to none when it comes to producing gifted individuals, but they need the towering presence of players like Inzamam and Imran Khan. Unfortunately in the present team, it seems, they don’t have a senior player who can become a good leader. In such situations, the board can play a key role. But we don’t yet know if this action on players will benefit the team in the long run.
It’s certainly not a happy time for the hockey fans as well. The four-time champions finished last in the World Cup in India and in an unexpected move, all the players of the team retired after their last match. These are tough times and something serious needs to be done to revive hockey and cricket in Pakistan.
(Courtesy Khaleej Times)