Shoaib Malik, the flamboyant Pakistani all-rounder, would be a happy man at the moment. No, it isn’t entirely due to his marriage with Indian tennis star, Sania Mirza. But it is because his one-year ban has been lifted by the Pakistan cricket board (PCB) a few days back.
The reason of this decision by the PCB is due to the fact that there has apparently been a change in his attitude and behavior towards the game in the last three months, according to the board’s legal advisor Talib Rizvi. The batsman’s fine is also reduced to $1 million.
However, former Pakistani players haven’t accepted this decision happily. It is mainly due to the revelations of the controversial leaked video of the PCB meeting a few weeks back, and their experiences and knowledge about Malik.
According to Abdul Qadir, a former leg-spinner and chief selector of Pakistan, the PCB has fallen to political pressure, which will allow players like Malik to violate discipline and get away from further wrongdoings in the future.
Aamer Sohail, former Pakistani opening batsman, also believes that the board has taken his decision hastily, due to political pressure. Sarfraz Nawaz, former Pakistani fast bowler, said that through this decision the PCB was taking a ‘coward’s stance’.
Nobody can really reveal the inside story behind this decision. Malik has been accused by his own team-mates and coaches of having a negative attitude, which dampened the morale of the entire Pakistan team. So, with Malik’s ban overturned, the PCB’s attitude is surprising as they should instead not lift his ban and consider the appeals of other players such as Younis Khan and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.
However, if Malik has really changed for good, it will be beneficial for Pakistan cricket and its future. His experience cannot be brought from the supermarket as he has played in 190 ODIs since the last ten years. And with Mohammad Yousuf’s retirement and the 2011 World Cup in sight, Malik along with the current captain Shahid Afridi, will hold key for Pakistan’s turnaround in the shorter formats of the game atleast.
Although Malik is a very unpopular player in the team, it shouldn’t take much of time for the team to unite and succeed as there is a new captain, a new coach in the legendary and a positive-minded Waqar Younis and a new manager in Yawar Saeed, who has been given full authority by the PCB to send players back home on the grounds of indiscipline and division.
Pakistan will play the Asia Cup this month in Sri Lanka, followed by a long tour of England, which involves matches with England and Australia. They then travel across to the UAE to play a ‘home’ series against South Africa. These matches will be crucial for Pakistan’s World Cup preparations, and if Malik plays, he could be handy as he has the skills to perform with the bat and the ball.
He is a decent fielder too. Thus, Shoaib Malik would be in the right frame of mind to give his best for his country again, as his personal life and professional life has just improved in a span of two months. So, the decision might turn out to be positive enough as Pakistan cricket has had enough for being in the news for wrong decisions.
It needs change and in my opinion, Shoaib Malik will help Pakistan grow to become a champion side in the immediate future. This can be possible if Afridi and Malik resolve their differences, to play for Pakistan rather for themselves.
But the question is ‘‘If’ this could happen easily?’ Pakistan has a few months in the hand ahead of the World Cup. And this could thus be temporary, just as things are in Pakistani cricket, which is a big fear.
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