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    Great Article on Paki Cricket


    KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Advisory Panel need to be
    appreciated for showing the resolve to rebuild the team for the next World Cup
    in 2003 and starting to do this with the home series against Sri Lanka.

    The decision to exclude Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq from the squad for the
    one-day series against Sri Lanka was a decision which required courage to be
    taken, but Lt Gen Tauqir Zia and his Advisory Panel showed they have the
    resolve to do what is in the best interest of the country in the long run.

    The decision to also not select players like Shahid Afridi and Azhar Mahmood
    for the first one-dayer at Karachi was also a good one after their recent
    indifferent form.

    But now with Pakistan having lost the one-day series with only the consolation
    game in Lahore to be played on Saturday (tomorrow), there are already
    mummerings from various quarters that the Board needs to review its strategy of
    rebuilding a new team so soon for the next World Cup.

    Knowing well the ‘dressing-room politics adopted by the seniors, no one really
    should be surprised that Pakistan lost the first two matches.

    Expecting the team to win the one-day series under the captainship of Saeed
    Anwar after Wasim Akram had stepped down or been forced to quit was asking
    for too much.

    Wasim had been captaining the side for the last two years with an iron hand but
    things had started going wrong in Australia, one reason why he either decided
    himself to step down or was asked to do so by the Board after the tour Down
    Under.

    But now to expect his successor to deliver the goods with a new look side is a
    bit unfair. Saeed is not a born leader of men and his decision to field in Karachi
    and Gujranwala on ideal one-day tracks, remains mystifying to say the least.

    If Pakistan lost both the games, it was because not only is Saeed still unsure of
    his position as captain and secondly they were up against an organised and
    disciplined Sri Lankan outfit, which has taken months to settle down and shrug
    off the images of Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva.

    Sanath Jayasuria was lucky that he managed two notable successes in his first
    series as captain against Australia and then in the Aiwa Cup at home last
    summer.

    This because he had the support of a shrewd and knowledgeable coach like Dav
    Whatmore. Unfortunately Saeed does not have this cushion to fall back on.
    When the Pakistan coach is quoted as saying after the Karachi match that if
    his team had won the match no one would have criticised the decision to field
    first, then one can only imagine his technical expertise or insight into the game.

    The sad part of Pakistan cricket today is that both Saeed and Intikhab Alam
    have become captain and coach by default.

    And then in these circumstances, to still have Wasim Akram in the team even
    as just a player only adds to the pressure on them.

    There are no two opinions about Wasims status as a left-arm pace bowler of
    outstanding calibre and even as a captain over the years and with him in the
    team one can well understand how difficult the job becomes for any other
    captain.

    The fact that the man has managed to ride the team through to some notable
    successes in the last few years including a 3-0 whitewash of the West Indies at
    home and then an appearance in the coveted World Cup final are not small
    achievements, particularly when keeping in mind that for the last two years he
    has also been battling the match-fixing and betting allegations. But still Wasim
    like many other great cricketers Imran Khan and Javed Miandad is still only
    human and has his fallicies. The most prominent of them being his stubborn
    nature to forgive and accomodate those players in the team, who have accused
    him of match-fixing and betting, even at the cost of the teams performance.

    Today Aamer Sohail has been reinstated in the team to his rightful place, but
    really what purpose is he serving now. His services were required in the World
    Cup and in Australia, yet Wasim could not stand him at all. Rashid Latif is
    another example. His wicketkeeping abilities place him a cut above Moin Khan
    and in recent times the pressure has been telling on the latter.

    No doubt Moin is a fighter all the way and has produced numerous innings in
    critical conditions to steer Pakistan out of trouble, but then it is also a fact that
    he has at times made some glaring mistakes as a keeper. He muffed up a
    stumping chance and then a catch from Michael Bevan and Steve Waugh in the
    triangular one-day series in Australia and Pakistan lost both those games.

    The theory still remains simple, an outstanding keeper is worth much more in
    gold then a satisfactory keeper who is a capable bat. But then Wasim just
    could not tolerate Sohail and Latif and this showed on so many times. Even in
    1998 when both were captaining the side in South Africa and Zimbabwe, the
    moment Wasim joined the team in the third Test in Port Elizabeth after

    Pakistan were leading the three Test series 1-0, he made sure both fell apart
    and in the process the team also.

    All these are documented facts and not based on mere heresy. The bottom line
    is Wasim while captaining has been capable of inspiring the team to great
    heights. But when not and the situation has not been to his liking, he has also
    been very capable of creating problems in the team. This is a fact that the board
    officials need to think about as they start rebuilding the team for the next World
    Cup. It is clear Saeed Anwar is not their choice as captain for the next two
    years, so what they plan to do in this regard after this series, remains an
    intriguing question? Moin is one answer but with Latif breathing down his neck,
    again we have a big question mark? There is no doubt that the argument to not
    make whole-sale changes in the team is a strong one.

    But then the Board has an option before it. That is to concentrate on building a
    purely one-day squad for the World Cup and have a separate one for Test
    matches thus allowing senior players like Inzamam and Waqar to still play their
    due role in Pakistan cricket for sometime.

    Australia has managed to experiment with having a specialist one-day squad
    with great success. It is but natural that they always remain some players who
    are talented enough to make both the One-day and Test sides. This also
    Australia has managed with great success. Why cant Pakistan do this. It is
    certainly not short of talent. All it requires to do is start setting its priorities.
    There will be setbacks in the early stages but the rewards will only be known
    when the next World Cup is held.

    The key to preparing a winning one-day combination is to start selecting
    youngsters who are most importantly capable of becoming outstanding fielders
    and withstanding the rigours demands of limited overs stuff physically. Which
    the seniors including Wasim are not capable of doing now.

    The reason Pakistan has only won the World Cup once and never the under-19
    World Cup is because the Board has been prone to looking at short term gains
    instead of at the future.

    Many will not agree but today Wasim Akram is playing on his past laurels
    rather then on present form. Despite all his greatness as a bowler par
    excellence and all, just go through the record books and it is clear that as a
    bowler or batsman, Wasim has not been a match winner in the real sense of
    the word in recent years in one-day cricket.

    If anything he is not the bowler he used to be say three years back. And it is
    difficult to imagine watching him playing the next World Cup.

    For a player of his stature to pick one or two wickets in every third or fourth
    match or to smash a quick 20 or 30 runs is just not enough.

    Sri Lanka showed the courage to first drop Aravinda and Arjuna from their
    one-day squad and they are now starting to reap the rewards. PCB also has to
    start showing the same tenacity. The bottom line is every great cricketer starts
    going downhill at some point in his career and those who have the foresight to
    chose the right time to retire, go out with respect and in a blaze of glory. Those
    who refuse to see the writing on the wall have to be firmly helped out.

    Wasim is okay for a few Test series from now, but the time has come to start
    easing him out and this can be done with the one-day squad.

    Nowhere in the world can any country boost of having players waiting in the
    wings ready to take over from superstars like Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam or Wasim
    at any time.

    Every change has to take some time to start producing results. This rule also
    applies to Pakistan cricket.
    You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!
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