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December 6, 2019

Cricket slump

Editorial

 
December 6, 2019

Like the rest of the country, Pakistan’s cricket is almost always in a state of turmoil. But it has seldom been in worse shape than it is right now. As if the national team’s shock T20 International loss at home against a second string Sri Lanka team wasn’t enough, the Pakistanis were handed a series of embarrassing defeats by a rampaging Australia Down Under. Pakistan have historically performed badly in Australia but the way they lost on the recent tour has even left the most ardent of Pakistan fans shell-shocked. The Aussies, who are far from the world-conquering team they used to be in the past, toyed with the visitors in the three-match T20 series and then just massacred them in the two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide. Pakistan were never supposed to win in either of the two games but their abject surrender should alarm the men at the helm of our cricket. It should also alarm the prime minister, a former World Cup-winning captain, who had announced publicly that he would fix Pakistan cricket. But almost all the measures taken by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have backfired since Imran Khan’s announcement that he has turned his attention towards Pakistan cricket following the national team’s failure to reach the World Cup semi-finals in England last summer.

Pakistan sacked head coach Mickey Arthur and let go chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq in a post World Cup shake-up. Misbah-ul-Haq, a man with zero coaching credentials, was entrusted with the dual job of head coach and chief selector. Sarfraz Ahmed, the man who led Pakistan to a stunning Champion Trophy triumph, was sacked as captain of all three formats and was also axed from the team after the shock defeats against Sri Lanka. Azhar Ali, who has had a failed stint as Pakistan captain, was brought back as Test skipper. For the tour of Australia, teenage pacers Naseem Shah and Musa Khan were thrown in the deep end. It was hardly surprising when the Australian big sharks just gobbled them up in the two Tests. It might be too early to reject Misbah as a failure both as head coach and chief selector but early signs look bad. Under him, Pakistan’s performance has turned from bad to worse in all areas of the game.

But Misbah is not the only culprit for the current slump. Earlier this year, Pakistan imported British-born Wasim Khan as the PCB’s new CEO. He is the man primarily responsible for giving Misbah an unprecedented dual role. Wasim had supposedly been given the task to modernise Pakistan cricket. But just like Misbah, he has so far failed to impress much. The onus is now on the prime minister, who as the PCB’s chief patron, is taking a keen interest in reviving Pakistan cricket. It is understood that the appointments of Misbah and Wasim Khan had the blessing of the PM. Both of them have failed to deliver. Pakistan, meanwhile, will have an easier task at hand as they will face Sri Lanka at home in a forthcoming Test series. The hosts shouldn’t face any problems in winning the series but judging from the recent past, nothing can be taken for granted. Pakistan went through a horror show in Australia but somehow everyone involved survived. But a slip-up against Sri Lanka will be catastrophic. It’s time that Pakistan pulled up their socks and started delivering.