After watching the Pakistani pacers bowl in Australia and New Zealand, it seems that Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis belonged to an alternate timeline rather than to this one. There were hardly any threatening deliveries when the going got tough — you know, the yorkers and the bouncers — and most of the time, the one-dimensional bowling attack lacked variety. Even former Australian Skipper Mark Taylor pointed that out when he saw the lineup and whether Pakistan had missed out on a right arm pacer. His fellow commentator Waqar Younis who started this three left-armers trend defended it by saying that Pakistan has selected its best three fast bowlers and to me, that was a either a white lie or a stupid analysis.
How can one dismiss as many as half a dozen left-handers with left-arm pacers, is beyond me; may be the coach had some idea when he devised the plan – if he devised one. What Pakistan needs in the pace department is a fresh perspective instead of tried and tested players who don’t deliver yet get selected. This dilemma is similar to the one we had a few years back where Umar Gul was directionless and the selectors clueless as to who to select and who not to. Rahat Ali may have impressed the captain but he is not amongst the top three bowlers in the country. In fact, he might not be in the top 10 if the selectors search for talent that is in front of them. Why are they ignoring Tabish Khan is something only they can answer? Is Imran Khan not a better bowler than Rahat? If he is then why isn’t he in the playing XI as he provides change of angle to the skipper. Yes, Sohail Khan has fitness issues but he is more than handy with the bat and even he deserves a place in the side over Rahat, yet he warms the bench more than often.
Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq must also realize that Junaid Khan’s bowling has improved and he shouldn’t be spending his time as an expert on TV when he can deliver on the ground. Mohammad Amir needs to understand that there are many bowlers waiting for their chance and instead of crying over dropped catches, he must go the Wasim-Waqar way and dismiss bowlers without the help of the fielders. Wahab Riaz must also grasp that being fast is his weapon but he should be fast and furious, not fast and curious because that’s exactly how he bowls when entrusted with a responsibility. May be there was no plan when the bowlers were out there or they didn’t seem to follow one — in either case, the team needs to regroup ahead of the remaining two Tests of the series where Australia will be wary Pakistan and their fighting ability.
Then there is the strange case of Azhar Mahmood, the bowling coach who was always in need of a coach during his playing days. He was a handy all-rounder when he donned the green shirt but coaching is a different ball game and one needs to understand that a good bowler doesn’t necessarily mean a good bowling coach. If Yasir Shah isn’t bowling well, that doesn’t mean he has to be dropped to make him learn a lesson; he could be taught the tricks of the trade so he can bowl better without being dropped. Azhar could always ask his colleagues for advice because even he knows how much does an axe hurt the morale of a player, especially when it can be avoided.
Pakistan needs to put on a better show where the bowlers can get an edge, the fielders can hold on to the ball and the batsmen can do the captain proud. The board should never have agreed to a day-night Test match starting the series because the players were neither used to Australian conditions nor the day-night scenario in Australia. It seems the management was willing to say yes to everything that came their way, as has been the case for the last 20 years. While other cricket boards think about their players, their welfare and their development, in Pakistan we have captains of Tests and ODI side who are playing without signing the central contracts. Bravo PCB… it’s about time you realize that organising cricket is as difficult as playing on the field; it was never a child’s play, nor will ever be.