Saturday, December 19, 2009

Captain Confused

With the end of yet another happening year drawing close, you can be forgiven for complaining of suffering from migraine. Yes, you read it right - migraine. The most baffling of decisions have happened over the past few weeks, leaving no option but to look for those prized tablets of aspirin.

Mohammed Yousuf, despite his laidback attitude, seems to be in the news all the time, making Pakistan cricket one of the most talked-about topics in Pakistan as well as on the international circuit. The last two weeks have been no different either. First, lets start with the team announcement for Australian tour. Even before the PCB confirmed Yousuf as captain, he made several statements regarding Australian tour and team composition which hinted he had assumed himself as the captain already. But that's a natural thing for a captain - to look forward. So let's not be critical on that front.

But the squad composition for the Australian tour is highly debatable. With the squad to be trimmed to 15 for the tour Down Under, it was always going to be a tough call considering that no less than 18 players were in New Zealand. With Sarfaraz Ahmed and Yasir Arafat easy to leave out, the count was down to 16. And that is where the spice started. The captain favored inclusion of Shoaib Malik who had scored 46 runs in four outings in New Zealand. Iqbal Qasim, the chief selector, was in favor of Fawad Alam citing that Malik has already had enough chances and has failed to live up to them. After hours of argument, the chairman intervened and decided to include both the players to keep both the parties happy.

What followed was extremely baffling. Malik was dropped from the third test match. Not only that, he is also not playing in the ongoing warm-up match against Tasmania. Its shocking how Yousuf wants to persist with Malik and still not give him a chance to recover his form. Its a one-man short team then. Should we expect him to be in the playing XI on the Boxing Day? Who knows, with Yousuf in charge, you might as well not bet your money against that happening. And what about Fawad Alam who has performed considerably better and has shown a lot better commitment than Malik. According to Yousuf, Fawad Alam deserves to be shown the door after failing in the only test he played in New Zealand while Malik, the ex-captain, deserves to continue despite repeated failures in UAE and New Zealand.

The second decision that shook everyone off the ground came two days later. Mohammed Sami, out of nowhere, was inducted in the team as the 17th player. The reason for this was that Yousuf had asked for reinforcements as he felt a four-man pace attack would be overworked on the tough tour of Australia.So then what became of the 15-man-squad policy that PCB had adopted to ensure its already-aggrieved finances don't have to bear the cost of extra players? And who exactly is a part of the four-man pace attack? Aamer, Asif and Gul. That's fairly easy to recall. Remembering the fourth one though is as big as winning a grand lottery. A certain Abdur Rauf. What exactly is he doing with the team anyway? He played the warm up match in New Zealand, got injured, still stayed with the team, didn't play any tests, and got the flight to Australia! And excuse me for my lack of knowledge, but what exactly has Mohammed Sami done to warrant a comeback? An average of 51 would make any test batsman proud. Unfortunately though, that's his bowling average. And with just 30 wickets in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam trophy, he is nowhere near the top bowlers this season. The reason for Sami's selection ahead of other bowlers, the media is told, was his experience of playing Down Under. Two tests. Five wickets at an average of 57 and 4.2 runs per over. Impressive experience I must admit. Even the injury-prone Shoaib Akhtar has a better record in Australia!

The headache does not end there. If an extra fast bowler was needed to share the workload, what about the poor Kamran Akmal? For the New Zealand tour consisting of one warm up match and three tests, there was a reserve 'keeper in Sarfaraz Ahmed. For the Australian tour which also extends to five ODIs and a T20 in addition to the three tests and a warm-up game, there is just one Kamran Akmal. Don't be surprised if Pakistan beat their record of 17 dropped catches on Kiwi soil here in Australia. An average keeper at best, Kamran would have all the more reasons to drop a few more due to exhaustion.

Talking of sharing the workload, lets not even get to the openers. Yousuf was so much in the mood to dump young Khurram Manzoor. Just two openers for the tough tour? Either Yousuf is really bold to have confidence in Salman Butt and Imran Farhat, or very stupid to rely on the talented yet extremely inconsistent duo. You choose.

So with a 17-man squad in Australia, its recommended that you should not expend your energy predicting Pakistan's starting XI for the Boxing Day test. 'Cause if you do, you might as well sign an agreement this Christmas with your chemist for a regular supply of painkillers.


  1. wow. love it! and agree with 100%..
    lets wait and see how this 17-man squad does in Australia!

  2. well analysed and written. I hate him whenever he says we do not have experience batting line up and need reinforcements. I also fail to understand Exclusion of fawad alam and bringing misbah from no where and then faisal iqbal was ignored.(It can only happen in pakistan).Salman butt 20 plus test Average araoun 20-30s,imran farhat same shoib malik same(FAILED performers).
    If we analyze yousuf performance aswell MAJOR centuries against DEPLETED westindies and 30 average against team like australia and south africa and regarding MISBAH (few good innings otherwise failure.
    I personally do not enjoy watching fawad alam in onedays and t 20 but i feeel he is much MUCH better in test cricket and his defence is much much better then other pakistani players.LOgically UMER AKMAL ,faisal iqbal and fawad alam should be on the the top of the list BUT logic for yousuf HAHAHAHAHA.THen i also fails to understand umer gul selection as his average in test and onedays is above 30(not atalllllllll a good average)so good choice was abdurehman but then again MR yousuf intervene and ruining someone career:)
    Selfish defensive and delusion MR yousuf.

  3. Mohammad Sami's inclusion is controversial...even the injury prone shoaib akhtar is much better than him as stated above...

  4. Excellent piece yet again. I agree on most of the points mentioned. I also agree with most of Zedoo's comment as well except the only disagreement regarding Umar Gul/Abdur Rehman. Abdur Rehman I believe isn't a great turner of the ball and is a container than a striker. And Saeed Ajmal and Kaneria are already in the squad. And Umar Gul has been impressive in spells in test matches, just that he needs the captain's confidence which is lacking in the current situation.

  5. To call him a captain is a disgrace to real captains such as Steve Waugh and Graeme Smith.

    Yes, Mohammad Yousuf is the bomb and he is the only class Test batsman we have - but he never has been a leader in any sense of the word, and I don't see him succeeding unless he starts applying his experience inteligently and asserting his personality in his own, not necessarily authoritarian, way.