Articles of the year 2011

Wake up time
Published on March 13, 2011

The Match against New Zealand shook us out of our reverie dreaming of an easy win, alas was not to be, and we were suitably shocked at the target set us by the New Zealanders.

However it was the general apathy on the ground that made us look so ordinary. The body language showed the anguish of Afridi, clearly, a man unhappy with his team. It is time he cracked the whip, and should start by dropping Kamran. Two dropped catches behind the stumps are two too many. At this level of game, every run matters, and a wicket is to die for. As they say in Sports: "winning isn't everything, It's the only thing". Kamran has lost his Captain's confidence, and must pay the price. He has done nothing to warrant his place in the team—worse, he has given ample reason to be left out. His batting has been forgettable, and his performance behind the stumps is less than ordinary. Pakistan needs every man to be trying his maximum, and they must understand they are playing for the National team. This is not a club or a village side. It does not get any bigger than this, and a place in this team is to be savoured and is dreamed of by millions of youngsters, so dropping three catches in a match would be the sacrilege in their eyes, not to mention tears in the eyes of the old-timers.

Sport has taken hold of our Nation, in this land where the people have so little to look forward to, in our bleak pathetic lives faced with crushing poverty and hardship, this is our ray of sunshine, where we can look around us with pride and achievement knowing that we have bested the others.

The defeat at the hands of New Zealand has come as a wake up call, and should serve to put the management on alert, to drop any excess baggage and that every member of the team should have peaked by now. The fingers spinning, ball swinging, fingers itching to snap up the snick. These are the exciting aspects of the game, which has accelerated to a new pace, almost a generation away from the cricket of old. But with the new pace the management has also changed, and so must Pakistan move on, for us the wins are that much more precious, having so little comfort for our poor people, that we cherish these little victories, and we would be ecstatic with winning the cup.

Unfortunately our Management of the players leaves much to be desired and we have placed merit well below competence. This is a bad omen and our Patron—the President of Pakistan must realize that the success of the Pakistan cricket means so much to our people that amongst all this gloom and doom, we need this victory. Admittedly it does not improve the GDP of the country, but the feel-good factor is highly cherished as it is a rare commodity in Pakistan. The politicians with no knowledge or interest in the game it would be better left out and have the cricketers to handle the affairs of cricket. Far better to leave our team as eleven orphans rather than hand their future to persons who are part of the bookie culture. These players are children, they need to be monitored and protected from the bookies and some members of the PCB as hinted during the program and the London enquiry. This is not a PPP team that can be granted amnesty for political reasons. In sports/ especially cricket there can be no politics, that is why it is crucial that a cordon sanitaire should be thrown around the Pakistani camp. Keeping the unwanted out. Unless they are already in!

The good news is that the fans are now alert to the sharks swimming around our team. The penalty for a dropped catch or a missed stumping will have gone up many times. The threats are swirling and the chances of a bad performance have just become prohibitive. No bookie can give a lifetime insurance- so for the next match with a whole nation watching it will be difficult / dangerous for any player to under perform. People like Imran and Miandad cannot be fooled by sloppy fielding. The fix will be when we least expect it.

So all our Nation can do for the time being is to pray and watch carefully.