Unprepared we enter the World Cup

June 9, 2024

Unprepared we enter the World Cup

Pakistan is at the doorstep of T20 World Cup 2024, unprepared, shaky and skeptical. The prelude has been murky as Ireland handed us one and England two defeats in a tour which was supposed to be a warm up or practice tour.

In the last two years since we lost T20 World Cup 2022, there were so many ups and downs including the removal and reappointment of Babar Azam, a failed captain; not that appointing premature Shaheen Shah Afridi as Babar’s replacement was any smart and bright move, yet reappointment of clueless Babar who proved ineffective only five month earlier was a disaster. That very appointment clearly expressed our intent and non-serious resolve in winning the World Cup. It sounded the death knell of the future of Pakistan Cricket as we clearly exhibited that “Parchi” and Friendship culture still reigns.

That non seriousness continued as we progressed further by first appointing a large six-member selection committee with officially no Chief Selector. Wahab Riaz unofficially started calling the shots due to his association with Chairman PCB in the caretaker setup of Punjab. Unfortunately Wahab holds a very controversial reputation as a biased and vindictive person who holds a grudge deep inside his heart against those who fall on his left. Similarly, he goes out of way for friends. He so much dominated the Selection Committee that saner voices like experienced Yousuf, Razzaq and Asad Shafiq became almost non-existent.

When Gary Kristen was appointed as Chief Coach Wahab started fierce disagreements with him making him uncomfortable.

Now let’s have a look at the team selected for this grand event. The team has five openers, a non-existent middle order and a lame spin attack. The only genuine spinner in the team is Abrar who is being kept away and was not included in the matches against Ireland and England probably due to Babar’s fear that in case he performs well, Shadab his buddy will have to give way to him. Imad and Iftikhar cannot be termed as regular spinners, though Imad is far better than Iftikhar.

There is no set batting order and batting numbers are shuffled in every match. This is because Saim, Babar, Rizwan, Fakhar and Usman Khan are all openers in their own rights. We keep demoting our openers to No.3 & No.4 and 5.

After that come unreliable batters like Iftikhar, Azam Khan and Shadab. None of them is dependable in consolidating the innings with carefully selected shots. In fact I will not consider any of these as real batters. I would like the readers to be reminded that none of them have ever played a match winning innings in an international match; yet we are carrying them along. Iftikhar has played 50+ ODI/T20 matches with nothing much to mention.

Since Babar/Rizwan/Shadab friendship eleven is still in control the name of Osama Mir who had the highest tally of wickets in PSL 2024 was ostracised by Wahab at the behest of Babar Azam to save Shadab’s place in the team.

Solid players like Saud Shakeel and Sohaib Maqsood were left out. The debacle in middle order is also because of the fact that in most of the PSL matches all teams sign overseas players to play in middle order, while middle order is also not developed due to the fact that many good players do not play local white ball tournaments.

The presence of Azhar Mehmood as Assistant Coach also raises many eyebrows. An ordinary all-rounder who would hardly find a place in a team while playing is attached with every team as Assistant, Deputy or bowling coach with no performance whatsoever. He is just a joy rider and a burden on PCB funds.

A very important aspect has also been ignored that the USA is not home to cricket and thus no standard pitches are there. The limited cricket played there is on age-old matting wickets. As such they have installed drop in pitches which may behave very strangely from venue to venue. Only accomplished batsmen with application can deal with such tricky wickets.

We are in a quagmire of our own doings trying to find some solid ground to put our feet on.

I will not say that we may become champions because clueless Babar is still there with his pre-scripted plans, refusing to change at spot, whimsical bowling and batting order changes, a non-existent middle order, and loose discipline in the field.

– The writer is a former first class cricketer and Inspector General of Police

Unprepared we enter the World Cup