The recent fortunes of the Pakistan team have been unsurprising to say the least. Deprived of any real cricket for the last 6 months due to the situation of the country and the unwillingness of the rest of the world to risk live and limb to play with us we have become sluggish in adaptation and even more listless with each passing day.
When Srilanka arrived to tour here last month the stands in the national stadium in Karachi were â€œemptyâ€, totally empty almost for the two ODIâ€™s played here not because we have stopped loving cricket as a nation but because we have moved on simply out of utter disappointment.
When players in our team are caught with opium in their pockets and like to display their footwork more on Indian reality shows than on the field do you blame us as fans? We have supported the Pakistan cricket team for ages, through thick and thin and it has never been easy to be behind this lot. We have waded through the controversies and cried real tears when you faced difficulties on and off the field. We were behind them at the Oval when no one else was; we were the ones cheering at the airports to catch a glimpse of our stars, but what did â€œtheyâ€ our stars give us?
The board seems to think that appointing a new captain Younis Khan and blaming it all on Shoaib Malik who even if â€œaloofâ€ and â€œa lonerâ€ will not solve anything at all. Will it solve the fact that senior players of our team are more interested in making money then winning for their country? Will it solve the fact that our players have little regard for rules or practices religiously adhered to by the rest of the world to get the required edge? Things like dedication, honor, loyalty these principles are laughed at in Pakistan not looked up to. I seriously think that changing the man at the top will not result in anything. Consider this, after Younis khan fails who will we have to lead Pakistan? No one!!! The reason being that we never groomed our new players in the last 5 years, all of them are either faking their ages and winning world cups as under 19â€™s or sitting on the sidelines trying to find â€œrealâ€ jobs because cricket will not support them.
Not that our players lack in talent, but they are an undisciplined lot who sometimes gel together to produce a winning team, well sometimes just isnâ€™t good enough in the world of today, here is what I would do for the reemergence of Pakistan in cricket.
a) Get rid of Shoaib Akhter (Bad image, bad attitude, bad discipline do we need to think on this?)
b) Send Kamran Akmal back to domestic cricket (The guy spills catches on regular occasions and he is the best keeper we got?)
c) Blackball any media attempts to bring Muhammad Asif in the limelight( Yes he was a good talent but he ruined it on his own so close this chapter now and move on)
d) Give Younis Khan and the new selectors total impunity in picking players on merit and then if they do not succeed over a decided ear marked period hold them accountable. In other words let the damn team play cricket as it is supposed to.
e) Focus on the good bowling attack we have in Umar Gul and Sohail Tanveer than what we â€œhadâ€. Give these youngsters credit and help them become the stars of tomorrow.
f) Keep divas like Jawaid Miandad , Imran Khan (you get the picture) as far away from the team as possible, we need serious individuals who are actually interested in cricket not their own political mileage.
g) Build healthy relationships with other boards then the narcissistic BCCI who works only towards its own ends. The best way to do this is to discuss and come up with neutral venues to hold cricket matches with the other international teams instead of insisting that they come here. We may have decided to live on the razors edge but we cannot expect the rest of the world to be this way.
h) Regularly give new players a chance and groom them, appoint local coaches who speak our own language as most of our young crickets come from small towns here and are uneducated and guide them, not throw them into the deep end and then throw them out when they canâ€™t swim. Teach them to swim!!
i) Give the players and fans some kind of forum to interact other than call in shows on the media. Perhaps something in lieue of a grand team meeting with a question and answer session with fans. Believe me the players eyes will be opened to what is expected of them and what a loyal and knowledgeable following they have.
j) Stop making batting wickets, even if the youngster find it tough make the wickets sporting so that everyone has an equal chance and then with time we will perhaps be able to play on equal grounds with the likes of Australia.
Above all of what I have tried to point out is the one principle that an old general tried to drum into our unruly heads for the last 8 years. When representing your country remember what comes first..Pehle Pakistanâ€¦phir aur sab!!!