Stars no more

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Where is this talent we keep hearing about?

Bangladesh’s performance in last week’s Asia cup was heralded as brilliant. Even in defeat, victory was theirs. The cricketing world shared their euphoria. They won hearts and minds. It was a courageous, determined and almost successful campaign. Full marks to them.

And then, misguided in their exuberance, they lost the plot. This ridiculous protest to try to change the result of the match through technicalities is unbecoming. It smacks of bad sportsmanship. One could expect an exchange of words or protest, in the heat of the moment, if an incident did occur on the field. But for it to come as an afterthought, on the alleged basis of review of video clips, must be considered premeditated. Whoever the adviser deserves the boot.

A moment that is to be cherished and recorded in history in glowing terms will now be overshadowed by a lacklustre and meaningless protest. I don’t for a moment believe that anybody in the Bangladesh team really believes that the incident was a deliberate foul. There is no reason to believe that the umpire’s report at the end of the match carries any such mention. There is universal condemnation.

So why this delayed reaction? Especially since talks for a tour of Pakistan by the Bangladesh team are at an advanced stage. I am sure there are many who do not wish for this tour to take place. If it goes smoothly, as one believes it will, the onus will be on the other teams to seriously consider similar tours. Perhaps these teams prefer playing Pakistan in the Emirates. It’s certainly more conducive to off ground activities. However, if Bangladesh has fallen prey to these machinations and this protest is conceived to throw the intended tour to Pakistan, then it is a low blow.

And the timing was nasty. At a time when emotions are high, on the occasion of Pakistan’s Republic Day and Bangladesh’s Liberation Day, and slow healing wounds fester, prudence demands that controversies, especially totally unnecessary, must be avoided at all costs. There is so much cooperation between the two countries at present. The entire textile sector in Bangladesh is manned by high level Pakistani technical expertise and investment is flowing into that country. The best advice would be to wallow in the glory of near victory rather than destroy goodwill.

Having said this Pakistan played well below the average even for a team that is notoriously unstable. There is no comparison between the calibres of the teams, notwithstanding this very close result. Pakistan all but lost the match and left little unturned in trying hard to do so. The team’s inability to contain the Bangladesh onslaught was pathetic. They were really fortunate to escape defeat.

Pakistan cricket needs a new look. Everyone, except the vested interest, agrees to this. The sight of a new, ostensibly twentieth century chairman, sitting with 75-year-old Intikhab as principal consort was ridiculous. Inti, at the best of times, was and is literally helpless. He gave what he could to cricket and was never foreseen as the unbridled, perpetual mentor he has wrongly become. It is time he and a host of others were given a resounding farewell. Zaka Asharf, as a relatively successful businessman, was expected to realise the need to dispense with all those past their sell-by dates. And to inculcate viable, modern processes that would empower cricket at all levels and thus encourage a far greater asset pool of talent. A year down the line there are no such visible signs.

Right now, we hear of murmurings around Mohammed Amir and his possible resurrection. Look, Amir is in cricketing terms ‘dead’. Bury him and move on. Find the Amirs playing in Sialkot, Multan, Jhelum, Bhakkar, Sukkur and around the mausoleums of Jehangir and Noor Jehan. I’ve played representative cricket and I talk of the tombs, because I saw a young man there last week, a spinner, put so much work on the ball, it mesmerised me. Ask those with me; they’ll confirm! He is the type of talent you need to take to the academy and nurture. There are hundreds like him.

We are after all a country of 180 million people and there is no shortage of talent. But no one will pick such talent. It doesn’t bring with it citations of the rich and famous. What it does do is bring raw talent and the cricketing world thrives on it. Look at India: it turns out one after the other. Look at us: we spend decades producing the best fast bowling pairs in the world and then the talent just dies. Leaving us to celebrate television images of Wasim and Waqar at the height of glory. This is the total failure of the current system.

The mafia infallibility encourages abusive and arrogant behaviour, for example Afridi’s recent incident at Karachi airport. Unforgivable, regardless of provocation. I recall an incident when a top young batsman, I am trying hard to recall the name, hit a fan with his batting glove after falling cheaply. My father, who was chairman of selectors at the time, saw that he never played representative cricket again. This is what is required today. Gaddafi stadium needs to move beyond its confines and reach out to real talent. The bulk of this team is over. Stop flogging dead horses. They are stars no more.

The writer may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank God for there are people who could put accross what most of us are thinking and talking about and who get space in the paper too.Years back I read column by the same author in another Nizami paper and I wrote to him.I do not intend writing now but for expressing gratitude for most appropriarely drafted piece on our Cricket and its affairs.Why not give him the PCB?No psychophancy intended.

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