How Pak cricket landed in shambles

24 May 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in Cricket
Kamran Akmal

Kamran Akmal

Kamran Akmal may have vehemently denied the allegations of match-fixing against him, and a couple of Aussies may have come out in support of his stand. However, it will do little to reduce the amount of damage the disastrous tour of Australia has done to Pakistan.

From hitting out at ex-captains and teammates, to ogling at girls instead of fielding, everything that has been leaked out has made the Pakistan cricket team nothing less than a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. Controversies have never been alien to Pakistan, but this one should be a first even for them.

A couple of months back, when the suspension orders were handed out to the guilty players, many termed it as harsh. But, in the light of the recent revelations, the punishments now seen rather lenient. Like in India, cricket is a national craze across the border too.

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As such, representing the country in the sport can be nothing short of the greatest prestige of life. Thus, it is unfathomable how cricketers, seniors and rookies, can form groups, gang up against each other and be prepared to fight within the squad rather than against the opposition.

There is no harm in being competitive and batting for places with one another. If done in the right spirit, such bloodthirsty attitude can, in fact, benefit the team in the longer run.

The examples of the two Ws – Wasim and Waqar – is often cited in this context. And, there cannot be a more apt place to reiterate it. The two made no bones about the fact that they weren’t the best of friends in personal life, and also that both always looked to outdo the other when on the cricket field.

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Never once though did their personal issues spill on to the ground to affect the team’s chances – even if it did both did exceedingly well to never make it visible. And, this was obviously because they loved playing for the country.

It has now been a few years since both have hung the boots, and whenever the two talk about each other, they only have kind words to say about each other’s performance. No wonder, ever here they often try to outdo one another.

However, what two Ws had, and the current squad does not, is a tough yet sensible mentor to guide them through difficult times. At the start of their careers, both Wasim and Waqar were lucky to have Imran Khan among the ranks. The duo has often acknowledged that they wouldn’t have as successful but for the contribution of Pakistan’ sole World Cup winning captain.

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It wasn’t that Imran was wholeheartedly accepted by the team. Tales still float around as to how the members of the 1992 World Cup squad were disgusted when Imran preferred to speak about building his dream cancer hospital than praise the team after the historic win, or that some senior players nearly revolted against Imran during their winning campaign.

But, the commanding figure that he was, the great all-rounder managed to channelize even the negative energy around him into match-winning performances.

When Imran left, Wasim took over and did a commendable job though he wasn’t as talented with his man-management skills. Under Wasim, Pakistan remained a force to reckon with at the international level.

Even then, they weren’t a united bunch, but had a leader who stuck to his guns. The problem began when Inzamam-Ul-Haq took over the reins. An unusual choice for captaincy, Inzamam got the job only because Pakistan did not have a choice.

Not known as a decision-maker (and we are not even referring to his running between the wickets) too many things wrong went during his tenure – the Oval fiasco and the 2007 World Cup disaster to name a few. It is a known fact that Inzamam was coaxed into taking a number of erroneous decisions.

The state that Pakistan cricket is in today has a lot to do the absence of the mandatory transition phase. Post Inzamam’s retirement, captaincy was thrust onto Younis Khan, then presented to Shoaib Malik on a platter before being experimentally handed over to Mohammad Yousuf.

Expectedly, nothing worked, but the players began behaving like spoilt brats who were free to play mischief in the absence of caretakers. Here, the players alone aren’t to be held responsible.

The PCB, which injudiciously played merry-go-round with the captain’s hat, is equally accountable. But, does any such word exist in Pakistan cricket’s dictionary?

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