Saturday, January 26, 2008

Misbah Elevated, Shoaib Akhtar Relegated...

The test series of the decade is winding up in Adelaide and Shaun Pollock is playing his last ODI series in South Africa against a listless Windies. On top of that Adam Gilchrist, the greatest ever wicketkeeper batsman announced his retirement from all cricket at the end of the days play today. He's playing his last test at the moment and the CB ODI series will see him bow out of the game forever. The fact that he will retire as the keeper with the most dismissals in Tests and ODIs is only apt for a man of Gilchrists stature.

Now that I have briefly discussed the world news that has been doing the rounds I'll move to the news from the cricket world in Pakistan, which has taken a back stage owing to the excitement generated by the IPL and the Adelaide test.

PCB's governing board made two huge decisions yesterday, which will mark out the path that the Pakistan cricket team will follow during the rest of 2008.

Firstly they decided to appoint Misbah ul Haq as the Vice Captain of the team. This is a great decision IMO due to several reasons.
For one Misbah has cemented his place in the XI in all forms of the game. Secondly, on current form, he is definitely Pakistan's best batsman. He has a sound head on his shoulders and has ample captaincy experience which runs over 7 years with Faisalabad. He is not fighting for his place in the team and being a permanent member, the Vice Captaincy will only add to his confidence. He shares a very good relationship with skipper Malik and has been very much part of the senior think tank along with Yousuf, Younis, and Afridi.

The Vice Captaincy has been juggled around for the last year since Malik became captain. From Asif, to Butt, to Younis. Finally it is with someone who is not continuously fighting injury, trying to cement his place in the XI, or trying to decide whether he wants to be captain or not.
The other decision that the board took is a very controversial one IMO. Shoaib Akhtar's central contract was cancelled and he was relegated to a retainership decreasing his monthly earning from Rs 200,000 to Rs 75,000. I heard that Talat Ali gave a very negative report regarding Shoaib in his manager's report for the tour of India. On the other hand, Lawson apparently gave very positive reviews on him. The PCB has publicly stated that they have had enough of Shoaib.

But do they not realise that without him Pakistan's bowling looks toothless. The Zimbos have treated Pakistan's new ball attack comprising of Tanvir, Samiullah, and Rao like club bowlers. Samiullah who made his debut in the 1st ODI has already been dropped after 2 very poor peformances giving away 6 runs an over in his 20 overs without picking up a wicket. Rao has looked aimless and I still don't understand how he has managed to play ODI cricket for Pakistan for 2 years now. Sohail Tanvir is promising but he is a support bowler at best coming in at 1st change after the likes of Shoaib, Asif, and Gul.

With the latter 2 injured were the PCB wise to cancel Shoaib's central contract and treat him like a fringe player? What exactly do they hold against him? That he is pursuing a bolly career? That he is injured too often? Or that he doesn't show commitment to the team's cause? In the tests against India, Shoaib looked like the only Pakistani bowler who was playing.

Sadly, I think this decision by the board has numbered Shoaib's cricket career. Being the egoistic maniac that Shoaib is, he will not take this lightly. I haven't heard of a reaction yet but it will come soon and I wont be surprised if he doesn't play for Pakistan again.

On a brighter note, Sohail Khan, Pakistan's latest pace sensation is all set to make his debut against the Zimbos in the 3rd ODI tomorrow. He has replaced Samiullah in the squad and will be sharing the new ball in the morning with his namesake Sohail Tanvir. I hope he can transform his domestic success into the international arena and I hope he can spearhead Pakistan's pace attack for a long long time. Maybe then I won't miss Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif.

Khalid Latif was also drafted into the squad for the 3rd ODI but I'm not sure if he will be playing tomorrow. Nasir Jamshed has done very well scoring 61 and 74 in the 2 ODIs and Salman Butt seems to be a management favourite to be dropped despite 2 failures. Lets wait and watch if Pakistan gives another opener a try.

I expect the same team to play with Sohail Khan instead of Samiullah, although I hope that Rao is dropped as well and Yasir Arafat given a game.

Make your pitch on this post...

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8 Pitched:

  1. NAzhar said...

    Good post Q...however, I differ in my opinion.

    I think it is a bad decision to make Misbah VC. The VC should be one of the following two: 1) a young person being groomed to be the future captain. 2) an experienced veteran in the team whose experience is valuable. Of course both these are in addition to the player having a place in the side.

    Now Misbah definitel has a place in the side, but he is not a future captain and also does not have enough match experience to be a vice captain. I like either Younis as VC or go with Butt as the future captain.

    I also think it is a good decision to not give Shoaib the contract. His attitude and fitness has plagued Pakistan long enough. Only by giving others a chance will we have a chance to come out of this bowling weakness that ails our team.

  2. Q said...

    So we both agree with 1 decision each of the PCB but the different ones ;-)

    U have valid reasons for who the VC should be but besides the reasons i gave in my post for supporting misbah as vc the problems with butt and younis are that one still isnt a permanent member of the side and the other is a reluctant captain. Or rather one who wants his way but the PCB are not willing to give him his way.

    There is no one else in the team who could be groomed as a captain.

    Plus Misbah is one who shares a healthy relationship with Malik and on the surface it seems that Misbah wont be vying for the captaincy the way the other seniors (yousuf, younis, afridi) are or were.

    There have been tensions between afridi and malik and younis and malik so in that scenario misbah was the best option.

    As for Shoaib Akhtar. I still feel we need him cos the bowling lacks the sting. no asif no gul and they still havent tried sohail khan. Tanvir, Rao, Arafat, Samiullah are support bowlers at best. We need genuine pacers and theres no one.

  3. Rob said...

    The decision to relegate Shoaib is bizare, he is the only bowler in the side! Who are they going to call on Sami -- officially the worst bowler ever to play test cricket. Fools.

  4. Obaid said...

    I say fire everyone! They are all useless

  5. Q said...

    Welcome here Rob.

    Sami's contract was also cancelled. So not him either..they're relying on Rao, Tanvir, Samiullah, Yasir Arafat, Kamran Hussain right now - none have looked like a genuine strike bowler.

    I hope Sohail Khan lives up to the expectations in the last 2 ODIs if he gets a chance.

  6. Soulberry said...

    Q, nice post.

    I tend to agree about Misbah's elevation, with you.

    While there is some merit in the VC post being a grooming chair, so to speak, in the specific case of Pakistan at the moment, it is actually the strength behind the throne.

    The captain is young and PCB has chosen to support him entirely. Which is will be good to have an experienced lieutnant by his side. A lieutnant who is probably not so involved with the desire to lead the side as he is to contribute to its cause.

    Shoaib is a tricky one...Pakistan needs him, but they have shown immense faith in him over the years and supported him. As a senior member and spearhead, Shoaib has to understand his responsibility.

    I don't blame him entirely for India...anybody can fall ill and that was the time winter was just setting in...change of seasons brings plenty of respiratory problems in India...but he has to make up his mind. He has probably a couple of good years left in him and must give his best while allowing the younger pacemen to settle in under his cover.

    I think he owes this much to Pakistan cricket and fans.

    By the way, what is the latest on Asif?

    And Q, your picks are coming good...any selectorial ambitions? :) You should play the Super Selector game.

  7. Q said...

    Soulberry - I agree with your assessment on Shoaib. I have recently learned though that he himself was behind the cancelling of his contract - wait for that post.

    As for my ambitions - they have nothing to do with the cap of a selector - I'm aiming straight for the Chairman's seat ;-)

    SB, I play all fantasy games on espnstr (superselector), cricinfo, and cricketweb - Those are the games that I keep inviting all you guys to through my 'Fantasy Cricket' posts. David Barry is giving my tough competition ;-)

  8. Q said...

    Oh and about Asif - He's had his elbow surgery in Australia and is back in Pakistan recuperating. He should start light training during Feb and by the end of the month shud be fit to bowl.

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