The cricket board is paying the players handsome salaries and other benefits. It also incurs heavy expenditure for their treatment when they are injured. But when the team needs a 100 percent fit player he is not available for the national side
Cricket holds a special place in the hearts of millions of Pakistanis, with a rich history of producing legendary players and unforgettable moments. However, the recent performance of the national cricket team has raised concerns among fans.
Currently Pakistan team is on the sixth position in the ICC Test team ranking and 4th in ODIs and T20Is rankings. It shows that players don’t have the patience required for the longest version. On the other hand, India is the number one team in all formats of the game.
In 2016, under Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan team became number one in Test ranking. But it was a short-term success story as Pakistan failed to retain the top position. The year 2017 was not a great year for team Pakistan in Test cricket and the number one team slipped to the seventh spot.
The downfall of red ball cricket in Pakistan has not happened all of a sudden; it has occurred owing to plenty of problems at the grassroots.
The main reason for the fall of Test cricket is T20 leagues that make Test cricket less popular around the world.
Twenty20 cricket provides an action-packed atmosphere on the ground and usually attracts crowds. Many cricketers around the world have turned to T20 cricket in a bid to prolong their careers and pocket millions of dollars.
T20 leagues have become a lucrative business, organised in all cricket-playing countries. Many Pakistani cricketers don’t take part in domestic cricket for “personal reasons” but always remain available for money-making matches abroad, even in non-Test playing countries.
Fast bowler Haris Rauf is the latest example. He declined to take part in Pakistan’s Test series in Australia in December and January because he was worried about his fitness.
But on the other hand, he is seeking an NOC from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the Big Bash in the same country. Melbourne Stars have signed the Pakistan fast bowler as a marquee player.
His absence will affect the team combination as Naseem Shah is also not available due to injury, therefore, according to news PCB is likely to delay Haris Rauf’s NOC to take part in Big Bash League (BBL) that is to be played from December 7, 2023, to January 24 next year.
The official reason for the delay is that the Pakistan National T20 Cup will be held until December 10 and PCB expects Haris Rauf to participate in it.
The PCB should take notice of the players’ engagements in T20 leagues abroad. The board is paying the players handsome salaries and other benefits. It also incurs heavy expenditure for their treatment when they are injured. But when the team needs a 100 percent fit player he is not available for the national side.
Currently the Green-shirts don’t have consistently striking bowlers except Shaheen Shah Afridi. Occasionally a bowler performs well, but there is no real threat for the opposition.
Pakistan’s inexperienced bowling attack cannot be expected to bowl out the Australian batting line up twice on their soil.
Spinners’ ineffective bowling has been a major concern for the management since the retirement of Saeed Ajmal. Current spinners don’t have wicket-taking ability in unfavourable conditions.
One of the fundamental pillars for the improvement of Pakistan cricket lies in the grassroots development of young talent. Investing in school and club-level cricket programmes is essential to identify and nurture budding cricketers from an early age. Establishing cricket academies across the country, equipped with modern facilities and qualified coaches, will provide a solid foundation for future generations.
The domestic cricket structure in Pakistan needs a significant overhaul. Restoration of schools, colleges and universities level cricket can also help produce future stars.
The four-day domestic matches in Pakistan are not widely followed. The simple reason is that people have no interest in a game played between WAPDA and NBP or other departments, unless both teams have huge stars. The matches are mostly tedious and non-competitive, and the ground conditions are pathetic.
The management should concentrate on the betterment of Test cricket which is real cricket. Test matches on dead pitches can’t attract fans and sponsors.
Former skipper Mohammad Hafeez has been appointed Pakistan team director. People hope that he will bring some positive changes in the system that will give a boost to Pakistan cricket. Hafeez has vast experience of current cricket and knows about the modern cricket requirements.
Fitness is another hurdle for the performance of Pakistani bowlers. Many former greats are much fitter than young players.
A temporary camp may be helpful for the players to improve their fitness, but it’s not a permanent solution as only a limited number of players can be invited to the camp for a limited time to train under army instructors.
The management should have a plan for the whole year and for all the domestic players as injuries to leading cricketers are a common phenomenon.
The board and the management should sit together, make plans and assign the task to bowling coaches Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal and regional academies to find bowlers who can share the burden of bowling in future.
It has been said time and again that the domestic structure of cricket in Pakistan needs a radical overhaul. Only then will we be able to fully overcome the issues facing the sport. If attention is not given to domestic structure, Pakistan will continue struggling in Test cricket.