By Obaid ur Rehman.
Pakistan Cricket Team will be off to England on 18th June for a full tour right after a long gap of 6 years for 4 Tests, 5 ODIs and a T20 where a couple of ODI Matches will also be played against Ireland as well. As usual, Pakistan is touring England alongside with a lot of News, issues, controversies and other notable discussions. Selection of players, problems related to injuries, players’ controversies and conflicts with boards have the major point of concern in the last couple of weeks. Instead of touring with peace of mind, unfortunately Pakistan Cricket Team proceeds with multiple and notable odd scenarios.
Muhammad Hafeez’s knee-injury has also raised a lot of questions on the governance of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). His knee injury is right now pretty much better and he is training in the nets, but for me, the major issue is that what is PCB’s Medical Board is doing out there. Why it could not judge earlier that Hafeez’s injury would become that much serious that Hafeez even had to consider going to England for treatment. That’s another chapter that his recent MRI Scans have shown improvement but its Medical Board’s careless that due to insufficient concerns and care, Muhammad Hafeez even had to skip a couple of matches of T20 World Cup and a couple of training sessions for England tour as well. That also puts a lot of question marks that if our players, especially bowlers, keep on getting unfit on regular scales, then what is PCB’s so called Medical Board’s role is doing to prevent our players from injuries.
Muhammad Hafeez has been suffering from Knee Injury for 6 Months.
Inzamam-ul-Haq after being chosen as a Chief Selector has been very strict with rules and regulations which is obviously a very good sign particularly under such circumstances when Pakistan Cricket has witnessed disciplinary issues on various occasions. Ahmad Shahzad’s and Umar Akmal’s exclusion even from Fitness Boot Camp and squad for England tour thus created a lot of hype in Media. Perhaps that was expected and it was meant to happen. Behaviours of both the players, on and off the field, have been reported on several and multiple occasions.
Talking about Ahmad Shahzad, then it is to be noted that he made his come-back in 2013 after attending disciplinary sessions to improve his behaviour and attitude. He has then shown impressive performance particularly with the bat and kept his place in playing-eleven since then. Umar Akmal if compared to Ahmad Shahzad could not really put up match winning and effective performances which is why he is now only considered to play the T20s only.
My point is that if you want to punish some player for disciplinary reasons, then it must be processed, but your approach and timing should be more appropriate for it. As far as Ahmad Shahzad is concerned, we should not forget that the problems which we were once facing in choosing an opening pair, have been settled down a bit with the presence of Muhammad Hafeez and Ahmad Shahzad in top-3 spot. A player, yet inspite of having disciplinary issues, has been performing enough and is atleast able enough to be selected for an upcoming mega tour of England where we will be needing him. If you so wanted to ban him then why did not you ban him when our ex-coach Waqar Younus, a year ago, suggested to put a ban on Ahmad Shahzad along with Umar Akmal due to disciplinary issues.
The country always comes first and we must give priority to country’s interest and then to think about something else. Such actions on disciplinary related issues could have been postponed and these players could have been held accountable after England-tour, so that best possible eleven could be selected during on-field battles. I’m not at all in support of these players. Once if their behaviour and attitude is not correct then they must be treated accordingly. But my point is that, if PCB has let them play for one year by ignoring that report of Waqar Younus then Shehryar Khan should have waited for series with England to end and then to decide that what needs to be done specifically with Ahmad Shahzad whose performance is far better than that of Umar Akmal’s performance.
Ahmad Shahzad & Umar Akmal left out for series with England due to Disciplinary Issues.
Inzamam-ul-Haq has also selected Iftikhar Ahmad and Khurrum Manzoor in the Test Squad and once again Fawad Alam inspite of efficient performances in domestic circuit could not catch the selectors’ eye on him. The decision of mighty Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, being the best batsman of Pakistan Cricket, could not pick the best and appropriate batsmen for England tour. I’m making this statement because of his decision of picking Khurrum Manzoor and Iftikhar Ahmad who haven’t got much international experience and Inzamam has selected them for England-tour. Khurrum Manzoor has not wore an International Cap for about 6-7 years and he failed to even balance his bat in Asia Cup a couple of months when even given an opportunity. But yet, now he will score some runs that too on bouncy tracks, probably this is what Inzamam thinks.
Since Muhammad Amir’s return to International Cricket, he has always been a point of discussion on various tables. The major issue was of his visa that either he will get British visa or not because of his involvement in Spot-Fixing Scandal and commiting a crime according to British laws back in July 2010. After the completion of documental process, British Embassy in Pakistan finally made sure to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that Muhammad Amir will be granted the UK Visa and a couple days later, it got finalized that Left Arm Pacer will be travelling to England on 18th June along with his other team-mates.
Muhammad Amir’s chapter regarding to his visit to England is not over yet. He will be resuming his Test career again exactly on the same venue, Lord’s, where he was found guilty of spot-fixing scandal, a scandal which gave huge shock to the cricketing world. British Media is also considered as very sharp and clever. It was exactly the same Media which played an important role in shaking Pakistan’s image in 2006 when Oval Controversy took place and also it played a crucial role in exposing the culprits in 2010 during the Lord’s Test.
Muhammad Amir will resume his Test Career in Lord’s after 6 Years.
Muhammad Amir will be the central focusing point of Media’s attention during his stay in England. A lot of remarks will be made against his past role and his current selection in playing-eleven, particularly he will face a lot of pressure from crowds’ aspect as well. PCB and Amir are well aware enough to deal with the possible scenarios in England. We saw that in New Zealand, crowd, through play cards and ground-management by playing voice of counting of currency notes, taunted Muhammad Amir. Not similar, but a very strong reaction is expected this time as almost everybody might chant on him and use slogans during his presence in the field. British Media will also try to approach him to dig out the past odds and to ask him about inappropriate questions, just to make headlines. PCB has given Muhammad Amir a separate plan to how to deal with such scenarios and avoid any controversy, whereas mature and sensible gesture has also been shown by ODI Skipper Azhar Ali as he said that they will always back Amir and will deal any awkward scenario in England as a unit and a team.
Pakistan Cricket Board seriously needs to change its layout and infrastructure. Just look at the other cricketing nations where they have brought their cricket to. If compared to them, we are yet at least 8-10 years far behind them. It is really very disappointing that inspite of having once a scary name in cricket in the near past and huge talent within our country, yet we could not extract the modern players and batsmen like Virat Kohli and AB DeVilliers due to poor and pathetic PCB’s infrastructures. In Pakistan, politics exists almost in every institution and also we as individuals and citizens are being badly surrounded by politics. It is cricket which we believe to be our identification and a source for promoting our name in international community, but our cricket also got politicized and its condition is worth criticizing. With all the doors seem to be closed for revival of Pakistan cricket, yet I hope that one day, our next generation would be proud of our green boys.
The writer is Islamabad based Journalist and a Sports Analyst. He can be reached at; www.facebook.com/obi.malik www.twitter.com/obaidrehman1990