Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010 For Pakistan Cricket

The controversies have been endless but this thread is focussing simply on the on field performance which has been nothing to write home about on the whole, but here are some key observations, statistical data and general points I will be highlighting below.

Overall Played 46: Won 13, Lost 31, Drawn 2

My Key Pointers

1) Akhtar was Pakistan's leading ODI wicket taker with 19 wickets in 13 matches since his return in June this year at the Asia Cup. His return has been a huge boost for the team with both his performance, experience and energy. I would like to see him lead the attack in the WC and consolidate on his top form. He seems to be settled in the team, relishing the last push in his career and his positive rhythm is really heartening to see.

2) Shahid Afridi was the leading run scorer in ODIs. He scored 2 centuries both in the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in June this year.

3) During the England Tour young left arm pacer, Mohammad Aamir notched up 36 scalps in the 8 international matches he played against Australia and England respectively. A formidable and memorable tour for the youngster. Sad to see how it finished, but I am not going to go into those details in this review. He must have loved the assistive conditions.

4) Umar Gul magically claimed 15 wickets in 8 matches including 2 instrumental match winning performances of 6/42 and 4/37 against England this September in the thrilling ODI series.

5) Tanvir Ahmed and Wahab Riaz both took 5 fors on debut. They are both different bowlers with their own specialities and have been top class finds. Let's hope they continue to serve well in the important years which lie ahead as Pakistan look to rejuvenate their international credibility.

6) In 2010 Pakistan have discovered a future middle order gem in Azhar Ali who has the attributes to become a permanent long term star and flourish at the highest level with his determination, willingness, application, composed technique, fighting spirit and solid temperament. He has a flawless gritty hard working game plan. A true revelation. He deserves our appreciation and backing. He has really impressed me personally as a favourite and caught my eye.

7) The emergence of Hafeez as a good utility player. Finally he started to make an impact and demonstrate his true potential at the top level. In ODIs this year he averaged a very healthy 37. He is also a cunning bowler who can bowl tightly and accurately. Not an easy target by any means who can do a top job when it comes to containment. A decent fielder too. He can now comfortably play all 3 formats with success and confidence. Hopefully, he copes with the responsibilities as he will be a key face or name in the years to come inevitably. Glad to see him settled and going well at long last.

8) Pakistan played under 5 different captains this year across all formats. They must have a systematic vision and select the best suitable candidate in the future, otherwise we will see instability in the team which directly affects performance. The record is visible for everyone to see.

9) Under Afridi: Played 30: Won 10/Lost 20

Afridi's captaincy is a clear drawback. Winning with a weak minded skipper is certainly difficult, but achievable nevertheless. There is a high chance his leadership limitations will be exposed in tough situations at the World Cup, especially against the stronger sides. Then everyone will be talking against him, but I warn you in advance. It's never too late to change. Better to prevent embarrassment now then in another disastrous World Cup Campaign potentially? Under Younis Khan's leadership Pakistan were a well respected, disciplined and seriously threatening force in the international cricketing circuit. Under Afridi we are nothing but a laughing stock. Those who are foolish enough to think that Afridi is a "good" captain need a serious re-think. His captaincy simply sucks. Even if he had the full resources eventually the realisation would begin to kick in that he is tactically and technically as bad as it gets. The team is not being set example, given any real chance, being used effectively and living up to its maximum potential under such a hyped up figure. We have strongly overestimated Afridi in all fairness. Even individuals like Misbah could do a considerably better job simply with their experience, education, composure and tactical game plans. Higher chances of success lie with alternative options. Moreover, Afridi has hardly done anything in terms of building a team or unit for the mega event and therefore changing will barely be harmful, if anything it will increase our chances and be the best thing that can actually happen at this moment in time.

10) This year Pakistan lost 6 consecutive T20s starting from the 5th of September in Cardiff. The irony is that last year at this time Pakistan had won 7 consecutive T20s and were challenging the record for the most amount of successive victories. It's amazing how things can change so quickly in the mysterious world of Pakistan Cricket.

Successes

T20 Series Whitewash vs. Australia in early July

2 historical Test wins in England under the captaincy of Salman Butt

Reaching the semis in the 2010 ICC World T20 in May

Drawing the Test Series against South Africa in UAE in November

Pakistan U19 reaching the final of the ICC WC

Pakistan's Women Team Winning the Asian Games


Failures

Asia Cup Flop

Being whitewashed 5-0 by Australia in ODIs this January

Losing to England in 4 out of the 5 times we met this year in T20 Cricket

Being comprehensively outplayed by England in 3 Test Matches in August by humiliating margins

SCG Test- An all time low. A sickening picture. An unbelievable and highly questionable defeat from absolutely no where. Endless errors were exposed in sheer embarrassment and humiliation.

Losing both ODI series against England and SA. Yes we competed and took both series to a decider, however we did not manage to win either and therefore have gone virtually 2 years without an ODI series victory or 7 ODI series without one . This needs to change. We have actually statistically become "chokers" in series cricket when it comes to delivering in deciders. We have fluffed our chances on numerous occasions in this decade.

Conclusion

On the whole, it has been a forgettable, shameful and disgraceful year for a descending nation on the cricketing field as well. No doubt as ever there have been some special moments such as Razzaq's unforgettable 109* from 72 deliveries to single handily destroy the Saffas with destructive striking and the Headingly Test Match Victory on the 24th of July which was a major feat accomplished. Afridi has stated that he will try to give Pakistan Cricket the place it deserves in the new year. The WC is literally less than 2 months away now so let's get behind him and the team as they look to save and rejuvenate the wonders of Pakistan Cricket which has arguably been a dying art. The legendary left armer, Wasim Akram who racked up 502 ODI wickets and 414 Test wickets during his illustrious career as an exceptionally gifted talent also insists we get behind the team. It may be difficult considering what's happening and all which has gone on in the recent past, but as patriots and passionate followers we always possess desires, hopes and expectations, regardless of what happens. Long may this continue.

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