- Soft under belly?
Perhaps there’s a lesson in yesterday’s Test loss to New Zealand that PCB – disciplined as it has suddenly become, we’re told – would do well to learn. No doubt Sarfaraz has been a lifting influence as captain. And there’s a reason Pakistan has become the world’s number T20 team under his captaincy. Not losing any T20 series since 2016 is an impressive run, indeed, by any standards. And, though the ODI outfit has had its ups and downs under him, nobody can say that he does not fight till the end, unlike some of his eminent predecessors.
Yet, perhaps, forcing all three caps on him – Test, one-day and T20 captain – is asking too much. There’s a reason, after all, that almost top sides in the world have separate captains, and sometimes teams, for different format. There’s some weight in the argument that never playing at home robs the players of a part of their learning process. But didn’t Pakistan become the number-one Test side under Misbah playing in these same UAE grounds? And, more to the point, didn’t that happen when Misbah quit the one-day squad after 2015 and concentrate only on the longer version?
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Pakistani cricket is at an inflection point. Far too much effort, and money, has gone into raising the team’s fortunes for it to remain so unprofessional and unpredictable. There was no sudden magic in New Zealand’s bowling yesterday. The team, as too many times in history to cite, got thrown off plan and just folded for no reason at all. Surely there’s no truth, beyond headlines, that the new Board can deliver anything substantial so soon. But, going forward, it will have to adopt just as professional an approach as counterparts who once struggled to stand shoulder to shoulder with us, but now edge us out more often than not. The Board has long had a soft under belly – in terms of professionalism, rather lack of it – which has impacted the game at all levels. Hopefully there will be a welcome U-turn here sooner rather than later.