Sunday, 31 October 2010

Razzler Is Gold!

He was on fire! Hitting sixes at will!

109* of just 72 balls including 10 maximums! The real "Boom Boom" as Afridi said in the post match presentation. Pakistan magically square the series with 3 to play in Dubai.

He was a genius! It was one of the all time greatest performances one can witness on the cricketing field. It was astonishing. It was remarkable. It was an innings of a life time. An unforgettable moment that will live long in my memory.

Razzler Dazzler is someone to stand and admire as Pakistan narrowly won at Sheikh Zayed Stadium from the jaws of defeat and truly out of the blue! A heroic innings and needless to say a match winning one!

The sheer ease and professionalism in which he cleared the ropes was adorable and admirable. The confidence, the expressiveness, the bat speed, follow through and reaction was all perfection personified.

An extremely proud day for Pakistan Cricket! The atmosphere on facebook fan pages, pakpassion and the blogosphere has been second to none as Razzaq played a knock to say that he played an unmissable gem is a big understatement. It was beyond imagination!

Brilliance!Phenomenal! Absolutely unbelievable!

For me personally this beats Hussey's heroics on the 14th of May in St Lucia which broke our hearts. This beats Miandad's illustrious last ball six in Sharjah. All the mentioned were remarkable and astonishing but this was something spectacular! A champion knock under pressure from the Pakistani all-rounder.

Such performances just make you realise how outstanding Pakistan can be when they click and have some inspirational on field moments,one of the reasons why I stated we can become 2011 WC Winners! Is this the start of bigger and better things to come!?

This one of course is head and shoulders above his other knocks this year but he has also delivered brilliance in other matches this year as well such as:

1) 46* of 18 balls in the UAE 2nd T20 vs. England in February
2) 71 of 29 balls in the domestic T20 final
3) 44 of just 20 balls in the 4th ODI vs. England at Lords
4) 33 of just 19 balls in the Friends Provident T20 Final against Somerset

Has to be one the best year's in Razzaq's batting career surely?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Why Pak Can Win The 2011 WC!?

Will 2/4/11=25/3/92 & 21/6/09!? Is there hope? Surely a lasting legacy script awaits for the likes of Shoaib Akhtar who would love to retire victoriously and triumphantly with something to cherish or savour?

- It is virtually a knock out tournament as it is already inevitable which team will make it to the knock out stages as both groups consist of 4 well renowned Test Playing Nations and 3 minnows with all due respect to them being there

-If Pakistan peak at the right time and the big players come to the party we all know then how good Pakistan can truly be then, they are invincible and unmatchable when they are at their best. When they play will a smile and with energy they are a treat to admire or watch

- Playing the minnows such as Canada, Kenya & Zimbabwe in the group stages should of course be easy wins for Pakistan. This is a perfect platform and opportunity for the big players to discover some form, rhythm and confidence before the knock out decisive encounters which will assist peaking at the right time!!!

-Both times Pakistan won the WC the preparation was inadequate and all signs were pointing to the wrong direction. Yet we battled though the difficulties and hardships, had some inspirational on field moments and performances and emerged as WC champions out of the blue! Perhaps 2011 will be similar? Why not?

- 6 group matches is guaranteed which is a substantial amount of time in order to discover the perfect team before the decisive encounters. Surely things can't go that bad for us and there will be some clear benefits and positives gained in the 6 group matches, especially with 3 being played against minnows which will boost our team psychologically, mentally and physically before when it matters most in the quarter finals!

The streets of Toronto, Birmingham, Bradford, Luton, Ilford, Karachi, Lahore & everywhere else Stanis exist shall be partying on April 3rd 2011 when we will be "Champions again" As Faras Ghani titled his book dedicated to the WT20 Triumph in 2009. I urge our Pakistani faithful to remain hopeful and optimistic. Recent times may have been heart breaking, destroying, sickening and shameful, however there could be light at the end of the tunnel for all the aforementioned factors stated. Winning the WC is easier then we think it is and is well within our capabilities if things go our way when it matters!

Anything can happen in the WC this time around. Whilst it may not be able to single out the real "winner" or "best ,"who would simply consider complaining when it will suit your side's overall chances of success and even glory?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Pakistan's Decline in T20 Dominance 2010

I decide to write this piece after Pakistan's back to back defeats against SA in UAE on the 26th and 27th of October 2010. Both times Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first but posted lacklustre and uncompetitive totals and consequently lost both encounters by 6 wickets.

Previously, Pakistan lost to England convincingly in a T20 series 2-0 on September 5th and 7th respectively. This means they have been whitewashed by both England and SA and have now lost 4 T20 matches consecutively.

From world champions on 21st June 2009 in London they are now a laughing stock!

Overall, Pakistan have lost 10/15 (66.7%) T20 Matches so far in 2010. This includes unsuccessfully being able to retain their World T20 Title in the Caribbean between 30th April-16th May. Only 10 months after tasting glory and winning triumphantly at Lords on that memorable scorching Sunday afternoon. It's fair to say Pakistan are no longer the best T20 side in the world and are in decline when comparing to this time last year for instance.

Lost to Australia in a sole T20 Match

Drew 1-1 vs England in the UAE

Beat Australia 2-0 in England

Lost 2-0 vs England in England

Lost 2-0 vs SA in the UAE

The victorious frequencies has been limited after such a promising and highly successful start in the format. Pakistan have also now been over taken by SA in terms of the most T20 wins recorded.

T20 should be a format where Pakistan can thrive and excel due to the fact that there is no application, patience, technical testing, mental toughness, temperament, commitment requirements really needed for example like Test Cricket. It is all about natural talent, skill, motivation, handling pressure, confidence and expressiveness. Hence, it is ideal and highly suited for Pakistani players. We have had overwhelming and considerable success in this version of the game, however we need to keep it up and not lack behind. It should or could be something where we are dominant and gain a proud reputation from. It could be seen as a version of strength and pride.

The credentials and attributes to flourish in the format are well and truly available in abundance. It is just about getting the right combinations on to the playing field and for the players to click and unite by performing on a motivational stage as many more people back home have the time and willingness to watch this shortened action packed, mouth watering, eventful and heavily exciting format.

In order for our T20 dominance to be regained or revived, Pakistan will need to put on a good show in NZ where they will next have their T20 assignment by playing a 3 Match Series in between Christmas and New Year. Nothing but a 3-0 whitewash should be accepted from the men in green then! I look forward to regaining our T20 dominance sooner then later and back the players to flourish in the format. Selection, individual form and strategy hold the key in order to succeed.

Shahzaib Hassan Khan

He has know played 6 T20s in a row for Pakistan and his scores are as follows: 0,0,21,3,12,6. This is an average of just 7 runs per innings. He always looks so lost, unconvincing, inadequate and extremely ugly at the crease whenever he represents Pakistan. He may be a demon at the domestic level in Pakistan and score heavily and consistently but the reality is that at the top he is an absolute proven failure who has continuously failed miserably and hopelessly. He comes across as a very overrated and useless product. He has the talent, but will never succeed at the top. Hence, he should never play for Pakistan again in any format soon.

Missing Names

In the last 4 T20s Pakistan have played and lost they have not scored more then 130 and have often lost too many wickets early on frequently and consequently find themselves having to re-build their innings and take their time later on. They need a stable proper opener who can bat for 10-12 overs and just lay the foundations, block one end up and set a platform which enables the middle order to play with freedom and intent when they arrive at the crease. Salman Butt was a perfect example of someone who did this under appreciated match winning role for Pakistan in this version of the game. In order to prevent humiliating and continuous woeful batting displays such a player is necessary to have in your ranks.
In all these 4 consecutive defeats Pakistan have missed Mohammad Amir with the new ball. If he is back in NZ he would certainly make the bowling attack more balanced and add variety with the left arm angle he provides.
Razzaq needs to be promoted up the order and utilised efficiently and productively. He is a very capable match winning destructive experienced established batsmen, especially in such a shortened game. He has done it numerous times in the domestic arena for a variety of sides. It is absolutely brainless to not send him in to bat in the top 4 and show what he can do. Why wait for a crisis? Why not give him the best possible opportunity of playing an incredible self destructive Razzler dazzler?
Imran Nazir is an unmissable name. His ability to play aggressively is much more convincing and ruthless then other sloggers or hitters. He means business with the bat and is capable of delivering the goods as has been established previously with his performances in the ICL, domestic T20 tournament as he is a Stallion too and 2007 ICC World T20 in SA where he was instrumental at the top of the order.
Shoaib Malik is a top player in this version of the game. His ability to milk the ball and accelerate when he gets going is an invaluable asset in the middle order. Additionally, he is an experienced player in this format and an outstanding fielder who can catch brilliantly under pressure. He is not at all a test cricketer, but in ODIs and more so in T20s he is a very capable performer.

Monday, 25 October 2010

An Article About Ijaz Butt Via Guest Writer

Arsal Puri is an enthusiastic American based Pakistani Cricket follower. Here is a piece he has written for BBK.

Once again, everyone's favorite chairman has come out in an unsurprising statement and has lashed out against the BCCI and NZC.
“ I have been in talks with some bookies and I have solid evidence that both the Indian and New Zealand team are apart of Match and Spot fixing.”
When asked on why he is accusing the two teams, Butt had this to say in response, “ It seems that I am not making the headlines for awhile and have decided to create a new scandal that will rock the Cricketing world, obviously though I will deny these comments and say that I did not say anything like this”

The press unsurprised at his unusual statements (or usual for Butt himself) continued to interrogate Butt on what exactly he is accusing the two teams of. “ Our players Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were suspended for bowling a couple of No-balls in which they did not take wickets off of, but Indian supposedly 'quick' bowler Ishant Sharma bowled a total of 15 no-balls and on 2 of them, had the wicket of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke in the first test against Australia earlier this month.” “I double and even tripled check with my bookies and they have given me concrete evidence that Ishant Sharma took an handsome amount of money to bowl those no-balls.”

Butt continued babbling and his statement eventually turned towards the New Zealand cricket team. “New Zealand lost 4-0 against Bangladesh, surely that in itself is match-fixing!, earlier this year New Zealand were number two in the ODI rankings and had also defeated Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy and in the series in the U.A.E. 2-1.” Butt continued saying, “My personal and long-time friend who also happens to be a bookie told me that Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum were paid $100,000 US dollars to lose to Bangladesh”.

One reporter asked Butt why he did not report this incident to the ICC yet and Butt responded saying, “ Why go to the ICC, when I call you guys who will write so many wonderful things about me! The ICC would love to take all the credit for this, like when they found out about our match-fixing scandals which I will tell you shortly the truth about in a later press conference”.

“Also I would like to mention once again that I am going to completely deny all of this, but will anyways be pressured into writing an apology to the ICC,NZC, and BCCI and will explain that it is my age that causes me to do such things and my power as the chairman of the PCB, I am still a “youngster”, and hope that with time this random accusations will stop and I will come to terms with myself...Inshallah”

Saturday, 23 October 2010

A Long Term Vision

Cricket is seen as a form of national pride and identification but yet our national team's record, renowned image and ranking is staggeringly disappointing for a country which possesses excessive amounts of natural talent and has unarguably the biggest and most passionate cricketing followers on Earth. Additionally, unlike other nations it's our national sport and one of our only sports and therefore something we should be ahead in when contrasting with the likes of SA, NZ, England and co. Yet, we are on par or behind. Setting high standards and overcoming our negative unpredictability tag is the way forward towards globalised recognition for our cricket socially and significantly as a representation of our capabilities and love/interests, especially in the modern age where negativity is the only word and news we hear in Western civilizations as a matter of regularity as much as fact.

Why we should and how we could be better then what we are currently:

1) Education right from grass root-level for all players so they are aware of the values and principles of life. How to conduct themselves, the importance of behaving sensibly and appropriately and how to refrain from corrupt and negative roots.

2) Improved infra-structure where there are less first class sides, better pay and more recognition and higher standards for first class cricket. Better cricketing wickets and systematic planning of tournaments will help get the best from the best players and prepare the players mentally and physically for the real challenge of international cricket when they flourish through the ranks.

3) Professionalism and constructive productivity in management and hierarchy who use the bounty of wisdom and experience to make planned decisions accordingly and with purpose and thought.

4) Innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurship attributes from experienced visionaries.

If this is all in place surely and inevitably we will thrive and the results will begin to show and shine. We should be the best team in the world. We could be the best team in the world. The personal drive is there as is the talent/credentials. But we lack hard work, vision, guidance & tactical understanding to succeed. This will not happen overnight. A long term plan needs to be in place and maybe just one day we will see our cricket triumph and delight the public like there is no tomorrow before we know it.

Our over reliance on pure talent is neither wise nor systematic. We need to groove players with important assets like mental toughness, technical and tactical intelligence, desire+ determination, application, hard-work, responsibility on and off the field and the importance of their role in society.

Hence, we struggle and are behind in Test Cricket and are always seen in controversies. This is the huge thing Pakistan Cricket lacks. It’s something which won’t change overnight either.

The Solution is an educational system for cricketers where they can learn about the important values as well develop their credentials. This is a long term vision. Surely we shall triumph and the results will show when this is in place?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Faysal Bank T20 Review 2010/ Pak Domestic T20 Edition 7

The 2010 Faysal Bank T20 competition was played between the 10th and 16th October at the Gaddafi Stadium and coincidentally with Lahore Lions emerging winners after beating Karachi Dolphins by 37 runs in the final.

This was a relief for the tournament and public in a sense as the invincible Sialkot Stallions finally lost their title and dominance after 5 consecutive triumphs. The team won 25 successive matches before losing to Rawalpindi Rams in the group stages of the 7th edition by 13 runs thanks to a brilliant all-round performance from Hammad Azam who scored 37 and bagged 4 crucial scalps at significant stages.

Hammad Azam's bowling is overrated. He tends to be expensive, inconsistent and and an easy bowler to target and score off. However, he is a wicket-taker and has this knack to provide his captain with essential breakthroughs. His batting is his stronger suit and has plenty of promise such as being able to take the long handle, play aggressively, maturely and carry the bat and produce a spectacular knock if he clicks, skill such as being able to play a wide variety of shots all over the wagon wheel and assets such as being able to play accordingly and under pressure how to handle difficult situations and play responsibly and I am confident with these 3 essentials combined he has, he will flourish at the top level if provided with an extended run of opportunities.

One of the stand out performers in the competition was the Pakistani left arm pacer, Abdul Wahab Riaz who took 10 wickets for 77 runs combined in the 5 matches he played. He bowled very accurately and economically. Hence, played an instrumental role in his team's tournament victory. Perhaps the PCB ought to consider him for the shorter formats as well!? It must have been a funny old year for the former Aitchison College Pupil. Not only did he take a match winning 5 for on debut at the Oval on the 18th of August, he also bowled phenomenally well to help his domestic team to win the FB T20 against many people's surprise. But this all came with a suspicion of match fixing involvement with the NOTW revelations and also a publicised altercation with English batsmen Jonathan Trott before the start of the 4th ODI at Lords on Monday 20th of September. I'm sure he would have reflected on the ups and downs of a series of life changing events, both positive and negative influences!

Additionally, Shahzaib Hassan Khan scored heavily and consistenly with his aggressive batting. He showed his effectiveness and usefulness once more, but one has to remember how embarrassing and pathetic his contributions in England this summer were. Is he really good enough to translate such form on to the highest stage? I am doubtful about that. He looks technically and mentally inadequate for the real business in the long term view but we have to give credit to him where its due.

Imran Nazir also dominated and caught the eye in the two games he played. In my opinion it is completely mindless to ignore him in the T20 format specifically. Umar Akmal scored two half centuries in the group stages which ensured the Lions progressed to the knock out stages as expected.

Abdul Razzaq played a gem against Abbotabad Falcons in the pool game and also played a brilliant knock in the final scoring 71* off just 29 deliveries with some serious domination against a pace battery attack Karachi possessed. This was the difference between the two sides in the well anticipated domestic final and the manner and ease in which Razzler dazzled and took the game away from the strong and experienced opposition was incredible and a true treat to witness. Pakistani fans worldwide can only hope that the likes of Razzaq, Akmal jnr and Wahab will be able to taste similar success with the national side in the important months which lie ahead.

The media coverage and attendance/crowd was a credit throughout the competition's duration. Often an electrifying atmosphere was felt. This just reminds us of how much the country loves their cricket and to an extent how much they would simply adore international cricket to return on home shores in the near future. Overall, a successful tournament and congratulations to the fans and players of the winning side: LAHORE LIONS! Lets hope they get to represent Pakistan in the CL T20 next year. Surely they should have an opportunity like other nation's domestic winners?

Friday, 1 October 2010

When the Men In Green Rose From Ashes like Re-Born Cornered Tigers...

This summer Pakistan won 6/15 of their games or 40% of encounters across all 3 formats which included 2 wins from each so 2 T20 wins, 2 Test wins; all of these which I covered in individual articles dedicated to them but also 2 ODI victories in September which I did not cover, but which took the ODI series to a decider to conclude an eventful summer of cricket on and off the field on the 22nd of September at the Rose Bowl which England won comprehensively to take the series honours. Which means they beat Pakistan in all 3 formats this summer. It's been a memorable summer of proceedings in many more ways than one for both sides! Pakistan showed their power and classy uniqueness or numerous occasion, but were unable to reflect it in the results as often as some would have liked. The discoveries and revelations of debutants provide promise and potential to succeed in the long term vision. So it wasn't a bad summer for Pakistan by any stretch of the imagination. Arguably, they could have done better ,but realistically speaking I am satisfied overall.

England on the other hand, have ideal preparation for the Ashes which I don't see them winning to be frankly honest. Winning down under will be an astonishing achievement undoubtedly and even with the best spinner in the world in their ranks, it looks beyond their capability. I predict 3-1 to Australia. Ironically, I would like to see England retain the urn down under because I live in England, support every team which takes on Australia and actually support England as a "second team" unlike other cricket followers from Asian descent and therefore would be supporting them to accomplish the mission, but we must get down to reality. Additionally, how can one actually be hopeful when the last visit resulted in a 5-0 humiliation and then there were high hopes as well? Just reinforcing a reality check here, would like this to all be proven wrong but tell me how this is going to happen then?

Looking ahead at what's to follow, Pakistan will be playing 20 international encounters this winter before the WC in mid February across all 3 formats which includes 5 T20s, 11 ODIs and 4 Tests combined against SA and NZ respectively. I expect us to win at least half of those encounters. All of this will be valuable preparation towards the big sub-continental spectacle in Spring 2011. With the way the tournament is structured anything can happen which will suit Pakistan's overall chances of success and even triumph!

I am just hoping against all hope that Aamir and Asif will be back for Pakistan. They are two gems and clear match winners and world class performers. Its highly unlikely they will return or if they have not been involved in match fixing or something of the sort but talent and ability wise Pakistan need them, no question about that, ideally speaking. But if can't happen that is totally understandable.

We want Younis Khan back as Test Captain and ODI player. The guy is a world class player and excellent leader who is being wasted by the clueless PCB management. I stand by Younis Khan. Come back soon.

In short, it shall be a very well anticipated winter which lies ahead where there is plenty to look forward to as the 2011 WC approaches. Pakistan will be looking to consolidate on their achievements and learning experiences gained this summer and should be looking to win a much larger proportion of fixtures in the exciting winter calendar. The PCB needs a new chairman who has the awareness, experience and vast understanding to guide Pakistan cricket forwards rather than someone who is destroying pride, humiliating reputation and behaving foolishly and shamelessly in Ijaz Butt. We can hope with a fresh and much needed change that Pakistan can taste the victorious flavour more often and will no longer be the laughing stock of world cricket which has to continuously bow its head in disgust. Surely there has to be light at the end of the tunnel where the cornered tigers can rise emphatically with strong leadership, sound management and a sophisticated systematic infra-structure which enables dreams and talents to be accomplished and strengthened?

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