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Time to salvage Pakistan cricket

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By Rao Dilshad Hussain

The Pakistan cricket team during the three decades of 1970s to 90s had enjoyed the glorious period in time and all due to the presence of quality cricketers in the line-up with another five to six waiting in the pipeline to redeem their chances. And when the fresh entrants replaced those seniors it was quite hard for the left-outs to win their place back in the team. But this contemporary team is revolving around the same old bunch of cricketers because there are no players to replace the players of the likes of Younus Khan, Muhammad Yousuf, Shoaib Akhtar.

The Pakistan Cricket Board is still in hunt for a reliable opening pair since Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwer said adieu to the game. Just Salman Butt showed some glimpses of quality of the late but his career is now at stake over spot-fixing allegations.

The Pakistan team since the greats have left been struck in the caldron of inconsistency. Looking at even the players of the recent past like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamamul Haq etc they used to snatch win from the jaws of defeat. They were raw talents horned under the guidance of legends like Imran Khan and Javed Miandad. But that does not mean the Pakistan cricket has lost talent but it has lost direction. At a time when the cricket world has marked their replacement players for the coming decades, Pakistan cricket is still lingering on without proper planning. The International Cricket Councils recent directive might make the difference in Pakistan cricket discipline wise but there is still a lot of work required at the domestic level to meet the international standards.

The Pakistan team’s defeat ignites lot of criticism at all the forums but nothing fruitful has been done as yet at the domestic level which is the main source of any game.

After organizing a successful domestic T20 tournament at Lahore, it is the right time to salvage the Pakistan cricket. Watching the T20 Cup, the question arises despite having players of quality why Pakistan is not producing great bowlers, batsmen and in particular finger spinners.

The PCB needs to identify a talented under-19 player who should be prepared on the professional lines that has been the practice of the past. Take the example of PACO’s under-19 team that appeared into the domestic Under-19 tournament.

It produced many players who later played for Pakistan. These included players like Wasim Akram, Ijaz Ahmed and Saeed Anwar. It later it employed in a single day players like Aaqib Javed, Ata-ur-Rehman and Zahid Fazal. The then captain of PACO took the initiative. So it is understood that when players start professional cricket at young age, they can easily serve for Pakistan for about 15 to 18 years.

Another area the PCB needs to think about is the fast bowlers department. There was time when Imran Khan was leading bowlers like Wasim, Waqar, Aaqib Javed, Atta-ur-Rehman, Muhammad Zahid set up the pace attack and then came Shoaib Akhtar, who remained out of Pakistan cricket for one reason or the other. And for over the last two decades or so Pakistan is playing without a genuine fast bowler. Punjab produced most of the pacer but now it seems Pakistan main weapon is dying down and no attention is being given towards it.

Coming to spin bowling when during the 1980’s Pakistan used to have more than 10 left-arm off-spinners, including Iqbal Qasim, more than 12 off-break bowlers including Touseef Ahmed, Akram Raza and Mian Fayyaz, legendry Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed filling up the domestic cricket. But the golden art of spin bowling is also vanishing and now there is not a single quality finger spinner seen operating in domestic cricket. And those who are playing have several flaws in then. Unfortunately there is no one in their clubs to fix their mistakes. 

All PCB is required to do is produce supporting wickets at domestic level and appoint coaches for every department of the game – bowling, spin and fast, batting and fielding - at regional level to identify talented players, remove their errors and make them available for further training at the National or Regional Cricket Academies. If proper steps were not taken now then the game would become stale like other sports.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, November 02, 2010,

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