Writing in his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Mohammad Zahid examines the issues related to the ongoing PSL corruption scandal, the poor state of domestic cricket in Pakistan, how PCB can learn from the manner in which Cricket Australia looks after their fast-bowlers and why Pakistan must move on from Umar Akmal.
By Mohammad Zahid (19th March, 2017)
Fixers need to be given life-bans
It is truly tragic for Pakistan cricket that the spot-fixing saga emerged during an otherwise very successful 2017 Pakistan Super League. There is no other option in my view but to investigate the matter thoroughly and give life-bans to the perpetrators. There can be no leniency as every crime has to have a punishment and especially where the motive seems to be just pure greed. I am disappointed like any other Pakistani but remember these players are paid well so there is no excuse for stepping out of line. A life-ban is the only deterrent for anyone else even thinking of taking the same decision in the future.
And let’s be fair here, the exemplary punishments shouldn’t just start with the current accused players, the same life-ban should have been applied to the likes of Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif as well. Until you set examples like that, we will continue to see problems like these happen again and again.
Pakistan cricket needs divine help to progress
To those who look at the success of the PSL as an indicator of how well our cricket is progressing, I have a newsflash for them. The PSL is nothing more than a good money making venture. If you think that Pakistan cricket will improve due to a Twenty20 tournament, then you are sadly mistaken. We cannot expect to produce quality international cricketers on the basis of the Twenty20 format as that type of player only emerges from a sound grounding via the four-day cricket route. If you have players who are experts in Twenty20 cricket, you cannot expect them to survive in the fifty-over or Test matches as the skills and mindsets are different.
In particular, the state of our four-day game is abysmal to say the least. From the state of pitches to the quality of balls as well as umpiring standards, there seems to be a huge number of problems in our domestic game. In this desire to cash-in on a popular format, there seems to be an undue emphasis and investment in the Twenty20 format of the game. Where you cannot even provide proper meals to players in domestic games, what hope do we have of improving other aspects of the game? The emphasis on four-day cricket is sadly missing and that will hurt Pakistan cricket in the future, regardless of whatever successes we have in organizing the PSL. There is obviously some conflict between the PCB’s goals and the PSL organizers aims and that will hurt us in the long-term. By the way, the PCB is not faced with a problem that is unique to Pakistan. Why is it that other cricket playing nations like Australia, South Africa, England do not have the same problem in organizing their domestic four-day games to allow their best cricketers to develop, whilst still having excellent Twenty20 tournaments of their own?
The PCB should follow the example of Cricket Australia when it comes to looking after their own fast-bowlers
The likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Peter Siddle have had an unfortunate spate of injuries which is worrying. I must say that Pat Cummins' bowling reminds me of myself and I do hope Cricket Australia take good care of him and he stays fit as he is a special talent. What is important is that there is excellent care available for these bowlers and despite their injuries, there also seems to be no shortage of quality well-developed pace bowling talent coming out of Australia. In fact, given the care they take of their bowlers, I do wonder if in a similar situation many Pakistani fast-bowling careers such as my own would have probably been extended for longer had the PCB taken its responsibilities seriously. The PCB has a lot to learn from Cricket Australia in this regard and they need to do this quickly before any more Pakistan bowlers have their careers cut-short due to injuries. Frankly speaking, injuries to fast-bowlers aren’t a new phenomenon. It is a fact that all genuine fast-bowlers will have injuries during their careers but they obviously need good care which is where the PCB needs to pay attention to avoid losing decent bowlers for good.
Good to see some young blood inducted in the Pakistan ODI team
The latest change made by the PCB to the ODI team structure is the appointment of Sarfraz Ahmed as the captain. Without taking too much away from Sarfraz’s capabilities as a leader, I think the change was only brought about by the fact that there is no other option as we needed to make some changes if we are to improve our dismal ODI ranking. I am encouraged though with the selection of the ODI team for the West Indies tour. This is because I see a lot of young players in the mix. Whether they get a chance to play in the series is moot but the fact is that we urgently need to have young blood in the team sooner than later as our older players will also need to move on soon.
Need to replace Umar Akmal with a better quality player
Let’s be clear here, Umar Akmal is not that established a player that we cannot replace him. He has recently been dropped for fitness reasons and before that it was discipline which was cited as a reason for ignoring him. He is not that important a player and has been around for a few years, so we must consider a replacement for him. I do not see any way in which his attitude and situation can improve in the short run so why continue wasting time on him? We should forget about him and move on and get another deserving player to take his role. Fact is anyone given so many chances can also match Umar so I don’t see why we need to persist with him. His attitude and general mental approach is not what Pakistan needs and the feeling of entitlement for a Pakistan spot on his behalf is also not needed given Pakistan’s current position in the ODI rankings.