Players as well as the management should be blamed for the poor performance
Disclaimer: Before you even start reading this, leave your patriotism aside and consider cricket a game. I am as patriotic as you are but, oh well, it is about time we get out of the euphoria of few good performances of a few good players that got us to victory and dig deep to find out what led to such a disappointing performance.
Let’s be honest, the Pakistan cricket team that played in World Cup 2015 was amongst the worst teams ever sent to such a prestigious competition. Not only was the team marred by injuries and controversies, it also lacked motivation and the spirit to actually pull off a 1992-style victory.
Social media was flooded with posts finding similarities between the 1992 and 2015 World Cup, but what most people didn’t point out was that though the 1992 team wasn’t Pakistan’s best team at World Cups, and was deprived of Saeed Anwar and Waqar Younus before the tournament began, yet the team had the courage to stand up to any other team and were spirited enough to play like cornered tigers and bring the trophy home.
What good is a fielding coach if the players are not fit and have been performing consistently poorly in the fielding department?
Playing like cornered tigers was asking for too much, this team couldn’t even do justice to the love and support this sentimental nation gives them and the tax-payers money from which they receive their high salaries.
Where to point the finger?
It would be unfair if we blame just the players for this poor performance. The buck actually stops at the management, which includes the coaches as well as the selection committee.
With Junaid Khan, Muhammad Hafeez and Muhammad Irfan injured, Shahid Afridi, Ahmad Shahzad, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Nasir Jamshed and Umar Akmal’s ‘butter fingers’ leading to dropping of crucial catches that turned the games against Pakistan. Critics have raised an eyebrow over the performance of training and fielding coach Grant Luden. What good is a fielding coach if the players are not fit and have been performing consistently poorly in the fielding department? Afridi and Jamshed’s poor fielding in Pakistan versus India group match and two important catches of Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell dropped by Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan in the quarter final are a few incidents that made the incompetence of Grant Luden even more evident.
Next under the axe comes the batting coach, Grant Flower. Pakistan’s top order not scoring runs and middle order not capitalising when the openers are able to put up some runs on the scoreboard show that the batting department is not working fine. Players giving away wickets easily, just due to poor shot selection, shows that the coach is not getting the basics right. The quarter final match against Australia greatly exposed the incompetence of our batsmen to tackle pressure situations.
Selection committee is confused
After Pakistan first two defeats during the group stage, a lot of questions were raised about the competence of the selection committee. Sticking to poorly performing Nasir Jamshed and keeping Sarfraz Ahmad on the bench and not giving the leg-spinner Yasir Shah a chance even in the quarter final, which was played at Adelaide, made it evident that the selection committee itself was confused over who should be among the playing eleven and who actually can win matches.
Even during the world cup, the players were criticised for their taking their trainings casually, not cooperating with the fielding coach, refusing to train and violating the hotel curfew
Pakistan lost the match but first let me take a selfie
Seriousness and attitude is another major problem with this team. If the players try to focus less on portraying themselves as ‘stars’ by taking selfies and posting them on social media, acting in advertisements that hardly suit them and showing aggression just to ‘woo’ the fans and instead work hard at the nets and take their trainings seriously, results might be different. Even during the world cup, the players were criticised for their taking their trainings casually, not cooperating with the fielding coach, refusing to train and violating the hotel curfew.
Revamp domestic setup: The way forward
As Misbah pointed out, PCB needs to revamp the domestic cricket setup. Serious steps need to be taken to hold domestic league where player could have greater exposure and at the same time it will improve the bench strength of the team. With Afridi and Misbah laying down their bats, there is a chance for the team to learn from the experience and start afresh.
It is time for them to look for a new captain who is cool-headed, understands when to switch gears from defensive to offensive mode, boosts the confidence of the youngsters, and can teach the team how to handle pressure.
With such a leader, who can pull the team together and help them rise from the ashes, the nation can once again pin their hopes with green shirts to bring back lost glory.
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