It wasn’t really long ago when the Pakistani bowling attack was arguably the most feared in the world. Akram, Waqar Younis and Akhthar charging in at express pace and when you thought you were through with them, you had to deal with the cunning variations of Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq and Shahid Afridi. Post-2005 however, the fear factor seems to have evaporated faster than acetone in an open bottle. A number of bowlers have flattered to deceive, including Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Ehsan Adil, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan. Testimony to the failure of the PCB’s talent spotting programme has been the discovery of Saeed Ajmal and Misbah ul-Haq when they’ve reached the twilight period of what could have been a long and fruitful career. Combine this woeful lack of young talent with some bizarre team selection and you have a recipe for disaster. I mean, who plays Umar Akmal as wicket-keeper, his performances behind the stumps making Ajay Ratra, Sameer Dighe and Vijay Dahiya as masterstrokes by the Indian selectors at a time when India had a serious dearth of quality wicketkeepers. The selection could be forgiven if there wasn’t a keeper available, but it is mindboggling as to why Waqar Younis continues to deny the existence of keeper and attacking batsman Sarfraz Ahmed and persist with an obviously well past his prime Younis Khan. But then again, when your captain Azhar Ali, you know something is wrong with your team.
In addition to the terrible team selection and an administration that exists only in name, the players themselves are to blame, with infighting emerging during the recently concluded World Cup. The performances against Bangladesh have been abject, suffering a 3-0 whitewash in the one day series and a thrashing in the lone T20 game. Pakistan seem to be clutching at straws at the moment in all forms of the game and there seem to be no answers. The situation is so bad in fact, that Pakistan is only above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the ODI ranking (Who knows for how much longer?).
For a country that has produced cricketing greats like Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamam ul-Haq and Mohammed Yousuf in the middle order, openers like Saeed Anwar and Imran Nazir, and a pace bowling production line that gave the world Imran Khan, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul, the current state is disappointing. Who knows how many great talents are being laid to waste as a result of the apathy of the Pakistan Cricket Board? We can only hope, that in the famous words of Inzy, the greatest runner between the wickets, ‘Inshallah, the boys played well. Inshallah, hopefully they will do better in the next game.’ Inshallah, they get back to playing cricket with the flair and aggression that we’ve come to identify Pakistani Cricket with. For goodness’ sake, cricket as a sport needs them back.