So Pakistan lost the first ODI against England yesterday after whitewashing the test series 3-0 against the top ranked side in tests. A bad performance was bound to happen. It was almost due. But I am not saying that in any cynical way. I am saying that as a matter of normalcy. It can happen. Even the best of teams on an extremely good run will have an off day. We unfortunately had an off day yesterday and England completely capitalized on it. Our bowlers did an ok job but our batting let us down badly. But let us not focus on yesterday’s match alone.
The last 1 year has held much promise for the Pakistan cricket team. We reached the semi finals of the world cup. Our team has been through somewhat of a stable spell since the World Cup with a good number of series wins away from home. In fact given that we haven’t played at home (Pakistan and not a second home in UAE) for 2 years I think our boys in green have done remarkably well. Misbah has come in as a very mature captain and has influenced the side in a low key way but effectively. In fact if one was to look at the stats then you would see Misbah has actually led by example when it comes to tests. He has averaged almost 70 as a captain against his average of mid 30s as just a player. We have won all our test series since the World Cup. Most of them have been against minnow teams but we played an excellent series against a strong Sri Lankan side (Them being out of form shouldn’t take away our achievement) and then the 3-0 whitewash of England in the test series was like the icing on the cake.
What has also contributed to this is the verdict against Amir, Asif and Butt in the spot fixing scandal. All three players were slapped with fines and jail time and I think that has sent a very strong message to the dressing room. Stay clean or get out.
The expulsion of Kamran Akmal is a blessing for us. We really needed a strong wicket keeper especially in the longer version of the game and Adnan Akmal (yes apparently you can’t really get the Akmal out of Pakistan… for now) is much superior to his elder sibling with the gloves. And he is handy with the bat. We should probably try bringing him into the shorter format of the game as well and let Umar Akmal remain a batting specialist rather than making him keep as well. Shoaib Malik should have been kept on the sidelines. He is as useful to the team now as a fairy in a wrestling match. (yes it is a lame example but I couldn’t really think of anything else). It is boggling that Misbah had apparently wanted him back in the team and that too on the basis of an all-rounder. I think we should stick to keeping these few players away from the cricket setup and continue on the same vein of stability that has been there for the past 1 year.
Another contributing factor I feel has been the new PCB chairman. To the PCB’s credit, they haven’t really been in the news all the time for the most ridiculous stories as much as they had been under the tenure of the former chairman, Mr. Butt. That in itself is a huge blessing. I think it also signals a much lower level of interference. I don’t think that has been completely eradicated but significantly brought down. As long as they continue to be passive meddlers the team will continue doing well and growing.
Finally we come to the coach. Mohsin Khan has played the role of en elder brother type presence for Misbah. I think the two M’s together have brought a much required good working relationship between Coach and Captain to the team. There doesn’t seem to be any friction or any sort of power struggle. I would have serious objections to him being changed at this juncture. The M partnership is working and changing anything would only be counterproductive. Especially if we opt for a foreign coach which hasn’t ever proved to be successful in the past.
All in all I don’t think we should focus our energy on yesterday’s match. Our team needs continued support to continue the good work that has been done in the last 1 year. Go Green, Go Pakistan.