Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Good luck Pakistan cricket!

Muhammad Asif Khan, GEO TV,
After the debacle in the recent World Cup, Pakistan cricket was encircled by the worst turmoil of its history, with no chairman, no selection committee, no coach, no captain and no vice-captain. But things started taking shape when Chairman PCB, Dr Nasim Ashraf announced to resume his duties on the "President's request". He constituted a three-member Performance Evaluation Committee comprising former Test players Ijaz Butt, Salahuddin Ahmed and Saleem Altaf, who were to submit their report within 30 days of their appointment.
Whatever would be the outcome of the report, it was feared that it would have no effect on the affairs as the all important decisions of the selection committee and the appointment of the captain have already been taken. Salahuddin Sallu, who was also a member of the Performance Evaluation Committee, was picked as chairman selectors therefore his selection was seen as a bit fishy because earlier he was given the responsibly of probing into the World Cup debacle, that assignment of his, was not done and he had given another responsibility.
He might be the best available choice in the country. To his credit there are five Test matches from 1965-69, and the impressive thing about him was that he made his Test debut after only six first-class matches at the age of 18. The other selectors are Shafqat Rana and Saleem Jaffer who have played five and 14 Test matches for Pakistan, respectively.
Salahuddin Sallu has been on the selection committee 13 times before this latest term, between 1979 and 1999, and has served as chairman of selection of committee on 10 occasions. Most importantly he was chairman of the selection committee when Pakistan made the final of the 1999 World Cup. His credentials surely justify his appointment, but he is no doubt facing a tough task to put the shattered pieces of Pakistan cricket together. Shafqat Rana has been on three previous committees in 1983-84, 1984-85 and 1994-95 while Saleem Jaffer is currently coach of the Sindh team.
Now the main challenges that the Pakistan cricket is facing at the moment are the coach and a formidable opening pair, for the coach the PCB chief in his March 31st press conference said that the next Pakistan coach will be a Pakistani, while we are keeping our finger crossed, the board should keep the past experiences in mind. Recently, for the first time the post of the coach is advertised not only locally but abroad and a difficult criteria was set for the post, which is a good move for sure. But why only the post of a coach is taken so seriously, this practice should be carried out for all the key posts in the board, why can't the post of the CEO or the chairman of the board be advertised?
Apart from the about mentioned challenges, the captaincy issue was also the thorn in PCB's flesh, which was "amicably" resolved and 25-year-old Shoaib Malik appointed as the new captain of the Pakistan cricket team. Shoaib's appointment was seen as a bold step because in the past we have had a few revolts against junior captains. Some reports did appear this time around as well that a few senior players in the team were not happy with the appointment.
The question is that why such a situation arose? Answer: the former vice-captain, and the automatic choice for captaincy after Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis refused to take responsibility for some strange reasons and this behaviour of Younis led to the crisis. It was reported that Younis was asking for absolute power and control.
For any captain, he must first win the trust of his team mates, get some victories under his belt and power will automatically come. Shoaib Malik, who has played 137 ODIs and 18 Test matches, was in 2005 under a lot of criticism after admitting to loose a domestic Twenty20 against Karachi deliberately. In the wake of this admission, Shoaib was stripped off the captaincy of the Sialkot team. But now he has been made the skipper which shows that this hurdle was agreeably overcome.
What effect a young captain could have on the Pakistan team is a debatable issue and prediction in this regards in not easy at all, but one thing is for sure that the previous experiences of having junior captains would keep everyone on his toes.
Along with the captaincy issue, Pakistan cricket was short of names to appoint the vice-captain also. Since 2005 when Inzamam was awarded the captaincy, Younis Khan had been performing the duties of the vice-captain and the rest of the tale is well known. Therefore in the future by appointing more than one vice-captain through a rotating policy, crisis like the recent one could be shunned. By rotation policy I meant that more than one vice-captain should be kept in view and should be groomed with opportunities in a series or two.
With this strategy, we would have a few people to consider for the skipper's job in challenging situations. Not only more than one captain and vice-captain are considered but a backup of every major player should be recognised and with due chances keep them in the game.
By doing so, only the standard of the Pakistan cricket would improve by a competition among players for their position in the team, like Australian authorities do, in the current World Cup, nobody missed Brett Lee, but Shoaib Akhtar on the other hand, was missed big-time. Why was his absence felt? The answer is that in the last ten years, since Shoaib has been in the team, we have not been able to find a replacement for him. Therefore, it's time now to think on different lines to secure the future of Pakistan cricket.


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