Cheer comes to Pakistan

December 27, 2015

Younis Khan could have been given a decent way out by enquiring from all five PSL bidders if one or more of them was interested in the legendary Test cricketer. If none of them were interested he could have been asked to voluntary withdraw his name; nobody would know that none of the five franchises wanted him

Cheer comes to Pakistan

It was after a long time that Pakistan cricket had something to cheer. Two evenings kicked off what has taken a long time coming but the Pakistan Super League (PSL) seems off the ground. Even Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan who had voiced an element of discontent with its staging outside Pakistan seemed to be in the mood of optimism. And in fact even went on to announce that PCB would be investing the profit into developing domestic cricket.

That would be some way off as these leagues don’t make money for 2-3 years. But let us for now be happy that different camps in PCB have come together to be exultant about the present and the near future.
It has gone a long way in sprucing up the spirits after a wretched few weeks where India played us for fair game. To be fair we were more willing to be played than BCCI were willing to play us. That is in the past and sometimes it is better to see the end of hope than to live in suspense. Painful as it is but you can put it behind you and get on with other things in life.

I don’t know who managed the event but credit to the organisers. Yes, the procedure is now tried and tested but nevertheless it takes a lot for things to work like clockwork. Just reflect on what just happened in the Miss Universe competition recently where the winner was announced as Miss Columbia only for no less than Steve Harvey walk out and apologise a few minutes later and award it to Miss Philippines.

On to the draft, and though there was excitement but the saddest element was that all the players on offer were picked except Younis Khan. I would have thought that someone would pick him just to give him respect. Of course he is not T20 material. Hasn’t been for a few years. But to not even pick him in the supplementary players when someone like Saeed Ajmal was picked is a bit sad. Ajmal struggled in England and BPL to not just get wickets but to stem the flow of runs in his 4 over stints. It was clearly a mercy pick as was Azhar Ali to some extent.

Younis could have been given a decent way out by enquiring from all five bidders if one or more of them was interested in the legendary Test cricketer. If none of them were interested he could have been asked to voluntary withdraw his name; nobody would know that none of the five franchises wanted him.

Of course the more interested pick was that of Mohammad Amir. What made his selection made news other than the obvious reasons was that he was one of the first to be picked up. It was ironic that someone like Ramiz Raja who has been opposed to his return to top class cricket was one of the anchors but clearly he has more supporters now than he has detractors. But of course it can be very difficult for former cricketers like Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed to be critical of his return. They were tainted in Justice Qayyum’s report and came back to play international cricket.

Though he is lined up to play against international cricketers come February there is a bigger challenge awaiting him in January. That is when Pakistan are due to tour New Zealand and the question remains whether he will get a visa. In one of my articles when the ban was lifted I had mentioned this potential hurdle in his attempt to play international cricket other than at home or UAE.

The more developed countries have very strict rules when it comes to letting in people with criminal records. Amir has already found that out when his visa to England was refused. New Zealand is not just one such country but also a member of the commonwealth. This hints that they are likely to follow the same policy.

There may be some cricket gamesmanship involved as well. The New Zealand cricket board would not be too keen to see Amir swing it in helpful antipodean conditions. And going by the way Amir has bowled in unhelpful sub continental conditions over the past few weeks, he is likely to be a terror for the host batsmen.
PCB has gone and sought a legal opinion and that is likely to look into the clause that people with past criminal record can still be granted a visa if they can produce a character certificate that is acceptable. Let’s hope the legal eagles help find the right level of character certificate to get him through the counselor services in Islamabad.

Another selection of interest has been that of Abdul Razzaq. He hasn’t even played in the domestic T20 and it was thought that he has been forgotten. But again he was among the last to be picked and perhaps more than as an afterthought. I very much doubt that he has any potency in his bowling but of course his batting can always be explosive. The danger is that this time the other four franchises have smart coaches and team analysts. They know as most found out back in 2006 that all they have to do is pitch the ball short outside off stump and not give him width to swing his bat. That should be the case now as well.

Lastly, an interesting move by Peshawar by asking Imran Khan to be the mentor of the side. What would be interesting to watch is how much someone like Shahid Afridi responds to what Imran Khan has to say. Yes they have been appreciative of each other and contributed to each other’s social work. When it comes to leadership they also share some common traits like fearlessness and a never say die attitude.

But where they differ is that Imran always played to the demands of the situation whereby Afridi plays to his instincts. It would be interesting when Imran gives his pep talk of keeping a cool head and Afridi goes out and slams the first ball up in the air for the keeper’s gloves.

Cheer comes to Pakistan