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.