When I posted after meeting Dr. Nasim Ashraf two weeks ago, I mentioned that I doubt the PCB Chairman met Sheikh Mubarak Bin Nahyan to only discuss human development and a possible series in Abu Dhabi was most probably discussed considering Australia were not going ahead with their tour to Pakistan.
Well, this morning it was reported officially that Pakistan and West Indies will play a 3-ODI series in Abu Dhabi in November. So a series in the desert was discussed but not for March but November. Now just like the big newspapers and gossip magazines, I can also claim - You read it here first!
This is all well and good for the cricket fans in the UAE but I have a concern. In the recent ICC meet of the top men from the various cricket boards, Pakistan managed to add some 38 ODIs to their FTP for 2008 and 2009. But what they didn't manage to do is add any test tours - Pakistan plays a test series against Australia next month if they tour and the next one after that isn't till the end of the year against India. Then there's another gap for a year before Pakistan travels to Australia in Nov 2009 for a test series.
Thats a total of 6 sure tests in the nex 2 years and maybe another 2-3 if Australia travel next month. PCB blame the ICC for getting a raw deal, but is it really that or is the PCB being dollar-hungry and just scehduling ODIs?
How does one then expect Pakistan to ever become a good test team?
How will this ever get Mohammad Yousuf to achieve new heights?
Won't this waste bowlers like Asif and Gul who will play ODIs day in day out and burn out without making an effort to become world class test bowlers?
Where does this leave Danish Kaneria who doesn't play ODIs?
Does this mean Shoaib Akhtar's test career is over?
Someone needs to do something about this.
In other news from Pakistan, the Pentangular match between Punjab and NWFP ended in an expected draw but not before Pakistan opener Salman Butt and Vice Captain Misbah notched up centuries.
Salman continued his fine form scoring 117, following on from his 72 in the 1st innings and record breaking 290 in the first match. Misbah scored an even 100 and remained unbeaten before the match was declared a dull draw. Nasir Jamshed also looked in fine touch hammering 59 with 10 bounaries and a six. Earlier in the day fast bowler Wahab Riaz, who was, one of the umpteen debutants against Zimbabwe, picked up 5 wickets to end NWFPs reply on 446. NWFP's 1st innings lead got them 3 points from the match.
During the Punjab match I read that the PCB selectors were upset with Shoaib Malik for opening the innings with Mohammad Hafeez instead of Nasir Jamshed, whom they were keen on trying as opener. Now someone tell me why weren't these selectors upset with Misbah ul Haq who did that same in Punjab's opening match in Malik's absence? Did the selectors not notice that Nasir had come in at #3 in that match? Or is it just that they want to portray Malik as a captain who doesn't want youngsters to make their mark? Or is the newspaper just spreading hearsay?
I reckon the selectors just want to feel important or rather display their authority.
And finally to the Australians - Its very peaceful and quiet in Pakistan, please tour. I know you will kick our asses but the Pakistan public want some meaningful cricket. And they also want their chance to have a go at Symonds. What do you reckon they'll call him? Bandar?