Wednesday, March 10, 2010

With Great Power Comes Great Inconsistency

What is it with Pakistani cricket?
When Pakistan are on their game, no cricket fan can help but enjoy watching them. They're capable of producing simply breath-taking performances when they're up against the wall (admittedly more in the shorter format). Just look at Shahid Afridi in the World T20 last year.
And yet, with great power comes great inconsistency. Maybe it's an artistic temperament. Whatever the explanation, the same team that overcame Sri Lanka last June might turn around and be skittled for 70 runs the next day. Umar Gul, after taking 4 for 15, might turn around and go wicketless for 50 runs.
Now I'm an Irish sports fan. I'm as used to a talented team blowing games, or an untalented team winning games as anyone. I've watched Holland knock us out of every football tournament in the 90s, and seen Padraig Harrington finish second 4 million times. I know frustration. But I've got to admit, the Pakistan Cricket Board has me on this one.

For a start, after the team lost 5-0 in Australia in the ODIs, after a disastrous Test series, the Board started to investigate whether there had been match-fixing involved. No, lads, youse were just rubbish. Nice as it would be to blame the dismal performance on greedy players and cunning gamblers, it was just some bad cricket against a superior team.
There were some highlights to the tour - Shahid Afridi giving the ball a couple of chomps while the 27 TV cameras watched him with interest.

But the PCB has gone further than anyone could have predicted, and for the players involved, it's not a laughing matter.
Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan, the in-fighting captaincy-swappers have both been handed indefinite bans from playing in any format, while Shoaib Malik (another stand-in captain and Naved-ul-Hasan have been banned for a year. Kamran and Umar Akmal have been fined and put on six-month probation, along with Boom-Boom Afridi himself.

This is by far the most drastic action taken by a national board in anyone's memory, and yet people are still scratching their heads a bit. Yousuf and Younis had some rough times as captains, no doubt, but this measure has effectively ended their careers - no one saw that coming. Kamran and Umar were both embroiled in controversy when the former lost his place in Sydney, and they can count themselves lucky with the bans. Or maybe, as a cynic like myself would suggest, the fact that they're two of the best batsmen in the team has helped them a little bit.

Pakistani cricket has never been a calm affair, nor has the captaincy ever been an easy job - when the Irish dumped them out of the 2007 World Cup Imzamam-ul-Haq was having effigies of himself burned back at home, and no one's still quite sure what happened to Bob Woolmer.
I haven't figured out if the PCB are to be applauded for this radical move or not - Pakistani cricket needs a fresh start alright, but with jester Afridi still around will that ever happen?

He can hit the ball a mile though.

1 comment:

  1. 'Now I'm an Irish sports fan. I'm as used to a talented team blowing games, or an untalented team winning games as anyone.'

    New Irish national anthem courtesy of Duckworth and Lewis sums it all up: