Pakistani cricket sacrificed on the altar of greed and incompetence but it’s definitely not the end of the road | Crickit
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Pakistani cricket sacrificed on the altar of greed and incompetence but it’s definitely not the end of the road

Jun 15, 2024 05:50 PM IST

Babar Azam has been accused of favouritism. But the truth of the matter is it’s the PCB that’s mainly responsible for the team’s ignominy in recent times.

It’s two days to Bakrid (Eid-ul-Adha) but the festive spirit has sunk in Pakistan following the national team’s group-stage exit from the 2024 World T20. The news channels in the South Asian country are painting a dismaying picture, asserting without second thoughts that Pakistani cricket is dead. That the inevitable has happened.

Pakistan were knocked out from the group stage of the T20 World Cup 2024(Getty Images via AFP)
Pakistan were knocked out from the group stage of the T20 World Cup 2024(Getty Images via AFP)

Normally former cricketers back their players in such times but it’s totally the opposite and big names like Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Akhtar and many others have expressed their displeasure at Pakistan’s performance that saw them lose to World T20 debutants United States of America (failed to defend 159 before losing in the Super Over) and archrivals India (collapsed from a great position to fall six runs short in pursuit of 120).

It comes as no surprise that players are being made scapegoats for the faux pas. Captain Babar Azam has been accused of favouritism. But the truth of the matter is it’s the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that’s mainly responsible for the team’s ignominy in recent times.

It has to be one of the most unstable cricket boards in the world, if not the most. Every new government in Pakistan also signals the arrival of a new chairman and a whole lot of other changes with it. The truth of the matter is the country’s instability has also affected its cricket in an adverse way.

It's very clear that till the PCB doesn’t change its ways, Pakistan can never be the team it once was, particularly in the 1980s and 90s. There is no hope for Pakistani cricket till the PCB is de-politicised. But since that has not happened in so many years and things are actually going from bad to worse in that regard, can we say now that Pakistani cricket is dead? Not really!

Also Read | Babar, Rizwan, Afridi to face pay cuts, PCB plans strict action after WC debacle

Even with an incompetent PCB, cricket is not going to die in Pakistan. Pretty much similar to India, cricket is one of few sports they are well and truly good at. It’s part of their fabric. So, they will continue producing great talents.

If the PCB can’t de-politicise itself, the least it can do is that it can encourage the players to embrace scientific ways, particularly for fitness purposes.

One thing for which the current Pakistani players should take the blame is that they are not fit enough for international cricket. Times have changed and so has cricket fitness. Virat Kohli once famously said that a really fit cricketer can complete a tough catch, while a less fit cricketer can make it look like a good attempt. There are various aspects in cricket where fitness can make a big difference. While Azam Khan takes the cake, there are others too who are not up to scratch.

Then there is this toxic culture where everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else. Players should be groomed so that they speak ill of no one. Imad Wasim and Mohammad Amir tore the team to shreds on TV during the 2023 World Cup in India. They have since returned to international cricket and have been an integral part of the team in the ongoing tournament. Ahmed Shehzad has done the same thing this time around. This can only be stopped if the PCB ensures their system is just and foolproof. Dissent is the direct result of injustice.

Last but not least, acknowledging they are not good enough anymore is going to help them improve. Stop living in the past. Get rid of hubris. Their former players are particularly to blame in this regard. The Pakistani public appears to have picked up this tendency from them. Yes, they were a great team in the past but not anymore.

It will be a hard thing to do but swallow your pride and stop making comparisons with India. This message is for all Pakistanis. Yes, you had the upper hand over India back in the day but that’s irrelevant now. Stop comparing Babar with Kohli. India and Indian players can’t be your reference points forever. Put your head down with an eye to the future.

It’s definitely not the end of the road for Pakistani cricket but it’s time for deep introspection and honest decision-making.

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