There are still many players around who were part of Pakistan’s squads which beat Australia in Australia. Why don’t we seek their guidance?
It seems that Pakistan cricket team is destined to fail in Australia as if it is part of another planet. The players from Pakistan perform in practice matches but when it comes to the real ‘Test’, they seem to forget that they have been playing Test cricket for some time, and have loads of runs to give them confidence.
Since the 1980s, Pakistan have faltered big time in Australia, winning just two matches — one in 1981 and the other in 1995. Yes, unfair umpiring has always helped Australia but except for the loss at Hobart in 1999, Pakistan are to be blamed. Let’s put our heads together and find out how Pakistan could have an Australia-beating side and what steps should they take towards achieving that. Read on:
Take advice from those who have actually won Down Under
The first and foremost thing to do before any foreign tour is to meet and seek advice from those who have conquered that country. Pakistan won one Test each on their 1977, 1979 and 1981 tours of Australia, and that was because the team was more or less the same, had experience of playing well in those conditions and, above all, played to win rather than just to spend five days and get the match drawn. Majid Khan, Mudassar Nazar, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, and Asif Iqbal were part of these winning squads, yet no one took a team to Australia later or advised any player visiting that country, before a tour.
Do these youngsters even know that Imran Khan took 12 wickets in a match in 1977; that Sarfraz Nawaz ended with 9 wickets in an innings or that Majid Khan performed in all the three victories? I don’t think so. Instead of asking these cricketers for their experience, Pakistani selectors send a team they feel can win in Australia and hope for Lady Luck to come to do the rest.
Top batsmen, bowlers must play in Australia to gain experience
In the last few years, the only Pakistani who comes to mind to have played in the Australian domestic circuit is Younis Khan. And that helped him a lot as a batsman because, in six Tests played against Australia Down Under, he scored 557 runs at an average of 50.63 which was closer to his career average of 52.05. He managed 42 valuable runs in Perth, 87 in Melbourne and a couple of 40s in Sydney on his maiden tour to Australia in 2004; his second and last tour of the country happened more than a dozen years later when he scored 65 in Brisbane and 175 not out in Sydney. Why? Because when Pakistan’s tour of Australia happened in 2009/10, the ‘skipper’ Younis Khan was ousted by a rebellion and we lost the series, under the very person who headed the mutiny.
Just imagine how Younis’ experience as a captain would have helped Pakistan, had there been no coup. He changed his bowling style from leg-spin to medium fast after playing Down Under, and even organised a training camp in Australian style outside Karachi, where an opening batsman was made to share a room with another opener, two fast bowlers were put in one room whereas all-rounders were made roomies so that they could understand each other when they played together.
Prepare bouncy pitches in Pakistan
Legendary batsmen Hanif Mohammad had a decent record against pacers, be it from the West Indies or Australia. That’s because he used to practice keeping in mind the strength of the opposition bowlers. Before a tour of the West Indies or Australia, the Little Master would ask bowlers to bowl from less than 22 yards so that he could adjust for the pace, and the bounce. And that’s why not many bowlers bothered him, wherever he went, whoever he faced. If Hanif could try and master the Aussies, why can’t the batsmen of today, who have machines to assist them.
The same goes for bowlers who are used to bowl in unsupportive conditions in Pakistan. That’s why when they are asked to bowl in bowling-friendly conditions, they use tactics they have perfected on the slow pitches on perfect bowling paradise and fail. They also don’t follow matches as regularly as their predecessors. If Jimmy Anderson could learn reverse-swing by watching Mohammad Asif’s videos, why can’t Pakistani bowlers do the same, provided someone sends them in the right direction.