Friday, November 2, 2007

The Unfortunate Case of Abdul Razzaq

I like Abdul Razzaq. I think he's an impact player - one THUMPING all rounder who's given us some fond memories. So i think its great he's taken back his retirement decision even though it makes his initial decision seem like a petulant act of a jilted player.

But let's be honest - Razzaq is and has been taken for granted for a long time. He's one of those unassuming characters who quietly goes about his business turning in solid, consistent performances, and occasionally devastating match winning ones, without too many people seeming to notice. When Razzaq truly burst onto the scene in the '99 world cup, he bowled with brisk pace and plenty of enthusiasm. He bounded in with purpose and had Sachin as his bunny for a while. He was used to counter the early swing and seam on offer during that tournament and displayed terrific temperament on more than one occasion to pull Pakistan of many a potential dark hole. But it was only later on, when he found his niche lower down the order, that his batting truly exploded. With that distinctive clearance of the left leg and blinding bat speed, he thumped them back harder than they could throw them at him. Anything even slightly fuller went high and handsome over long on or long off. Anything shorter was savaged over midwicket. Remember the 90 off 40 balls he blasted to almost take Pakistan to an improbable victory over New Zealand? Or the 5 consecutive fours against an in-prime Mcgrath? His batting was a thrill to watch - hope was never lost as long as 'fauji' was still in. His batting wasn't to bad in tests either and he chose pakistan's arch rivals to play some of his most important knocks. His 45 and 90 against india in that famous Karachi test, a match in which he also took 7 wickets, were drowned out by Akmal's hundred and Asif's majestic bowling display. Once again, a classic case of Razzaq not being given his due.

This is not to say the player bears no blame himself. His biggest critics have pointed at his bowling time and again and i completely agree. What happened to Razzaq the bowler? The guy could swing the ball, both with new and old, and genuinely harried batsmen. He was a real first change threat, stemming the runs by taking wickets. No longer. A mysterious shoulder injury robbed him of his pace and now his first ball is always a wide-of-the-off-stump half tracker at about 110kph which gets smashed for four. The rest of his spell is pretty much a succession of dibbly dobblers which he may as well have not bothered with. No longer does he get that threatening reverse swing and seems to be merely going through the motions. Another criticism has been his lack of emotion and energy on the field. Once again, not entirely unfounded.

Should Razzaq be brought back into atleast the ODI team? Yes. I have a sneaking suspicion that his fellow fast bowler, Geoff Lawson, might be able to get some of his bowling magic back. Will he be a disruptive influence? Only time will tell. But he is 27 years old. His prime years are in front of him. Dodgy haircuts notwithstanding, he deserves to be given a run again and represent his country. If the idea was to give him a wake up call by dropping him, job done. Lets get him back in the set-up. Boom boom may take all the headlines and win the fans' hearts, but there is no better, and consistent, lower order biffer than Razzaq in the game today.

Make your pitch on this post...

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3 Pitched:

  1. Unknown said...

    Completely agree... Abdur is needed in the one day team... plus it was a big mistake not to take him to the twenty twenty cup with its short boundaries etc... we reached the final but te point is abdur razaq would have been deadly

  2. obaid said...

    yeah, I miss this unique batting sty;e. His stance is like a baseball hitters and his hand eye coordination also seems to nack up this unique open syance

  3. Q said...

    Before we get all passionate about Razzaks exclusion, lets have some perspective.

    I have always maintained that Razzak does not warrant a place in the starting XI of a test match. That game is for specialists and not allrounders. Esp with his bowling falling apart in the last few years, he cannot be relied on as the 3rd seamer, nor can he make the team as a number 6 batsman. The match pointed out by O2 is probably the only test match where Razzak did something of note. Sure he has 3 centuries, but 2 out of them are against the lowly rated Bangladesh. 46 tests, a batting average of below 30 and a bowling one above 35 and it shows that he has underachieved. His figures against the mighty Australians and SA are even worse. a Below 20 batting average and an above 40 bowling one.

    You talk about 20-20, and i agree he should have been in the team. No 2 ways about it. The game is made for players like Razzak. With him in the side, Pakistan could have got atleast 1 hit in the joke that was called a 'bowl out' and u never know what his hitting power could have done for Pak in the final. That was a blunder by the selectors.

    As for ODIs, its a bit more complicated. Historically, Razzak has been an explosive player. As O2 mentioned the 99WC was the emergence of the player, and he has only done better since and found his niche. But his bowling has fallen apart.In the early 2000s he bowled with pace and 2-3 wickets in an ODI was the norm for him. For the last 3-4 years he has just been a fill in 4th seamer and the wickets have also dried up. His batting though has blossomed.

    A few injuries and loss of form resulted in him being out of favor. Overall he has a batting average of 30 from 231 ODIs - which is more than decent for an allrounder. 2 100s and 22 50s also sounds great. But if you look at the last 14 ODIs he has played his performance has dwindled.

    Razzak missed the WC through injury, and his last 14 ODIs came in the champions trophy last year, against WI in Pak last year, against SA in SA at the start of this year, and against SL this summer in Abu Dhabi. 168 runs in 11 innings at 18.7 with a highest of 38, and 10 wickets at an average of 45 with 4 out of them in 1 match - thats not the razzak u want.

    Injuries haven't helped his case. And right now I don't see where he can fit into the ODI side. With Misbah batting at 6 followed by Afridi and Akmal, Razzak doesn't have a place. As I mentioned before he can't be taken in as the 3rd seamer. So where does he fit?

    Like all great players (e.g. Waugh, Inzi, Ganguly, etc) everyone gets dropped once in a while. Sachin and Lara are probably the only exceptions in the last 20 years. The greats bounce back and hopefully Razzak will but he will have to show some form in the domestic games, which he hasn't yet. I hope his career doesn't go down the way Azhar Mahmood's or Saqlain Mushtaq's did. But only time will tell if Razzak had that firepower to bounce back. The first experience of being dropped and he announced his retirement - thats not what greats do...he needs to fight for his place. Agreed injustice was done but who said life was fair?

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