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Meet cricket’s Dumb XI

There are good players, there are bad players… and then there are dumb players! He ...

Meet cricket’s Dumb XI

There are good players, there are bad players… and then there are dumb players!

He came, he ran and he couldn’t bowl — that’s Pakistan’s latest goof-up Wahab Riaz for you who has been a national embarrassment for a long time. He made his ODI debut nearly a decade back and since has been part of the team despite more being a support bowler to the opposition than to his own side. He not only bowled 4 no-balls in an innings (that’s insane!) but also couldn’t complete his run up against Sri Lanka in the Dubai Test even after 5 tries. He may not find a place in any other team in the world but there is one team that would include him any day. Meet the Dumb XI, the team that only houses those players with a low IQ and who can surprise their supporters by doing things that others would think twice before attempting. Hope you agree with this ‘Boom Boom’ selection!

MEET CRAZY CAPTAIN & HIS DEPUTY

Shahid Afridi (Captain)

There are two kinds of people in Pakistan — those who are fans of Shahid Afridi and those who aren’t. For his fans, he remains a bigger cricketer than Imran Khan while others argue that he never performed well in World Cups, except for when he was made the Captain. His fans believe that it was due to his Boom Boom hitting that Pakistan won the 2009 World T20 while his haters think that it is due to that performance he managed to play until 2016 when he should have retired a long time back.

Well, Shahid Afridi has a long name but had there been a little space, he would have inserted ‘Controversial’ somewhere between Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi. What else would you call a person who bit the cricket ball in front of dozens of TV cameras hoping that none would catch him; had he been severely reprimanded for damaging the pitch during a Test match against England at home, the chew-ball incident could have been avoided. But hey, the all-rounder chose to listen to the ‘advice’ of a junior colleague (Younis Khan, as per his own admission) rather than think as a mature cricketer with nearly a decade of experience. Add to this his sudden comeback and retirement from Test cricket in 2010, his hitting antics in South Africa (he hit a spectator with the bat!), at the Karachi Airport and his comments about “more love in India” or “no talent in Pakistan” and you get a cricketer who thought less before doing.

Ben Stokes
(Vice-Captain)

Ben Stokes is the Problem Child of English cricket. On one hand, he is the most talented cricketer to be part of England cricket team since Ian Botham and on the other, he is as Stupid as Stupid could be. A few weeks back he was arrested over a drunken street fight outside a nightclub; he threw 15 punches in a minute and sent a 27-year-old to the hospital with facial injuries. All this came after he was named the Vice-Captain of England for the Ashes. Now his selection has been suspended.

He had been reprimanded last August for using “obscene, offensive or insulting” language during England’s Test match against the West Indies and that offence — his third within a year — pushed him within one point from a ban.

THOSE WHO LET THEIR BAT DO THE TALKING

Aamer Sohail (Pakistan)

It was due to Saeed Anwar that Aamer Sohail managed to play for 10 years — he was always the replacement opener when Saeed was injured (World Cup 1992, Carlton & United World Series 1996, etc.). When the two became an opening pair, Aamer was usually the first one to return to the pavilion and one such return of his is embedded in every Pakistani’s mind — that in the World Cup Quarter Final in Bangalore, 1996! After tearing the Indian bowling attack with Saeed Anwar, Aamer hit Venkatesh Prasad for a four and quite impolitely told him to go and retrieve the ball. The next ball castled Aamer’s wickets and he was back into the dressing room, with India back in the game and eventually reaching the semi-finals. During the ICC Champions Trophy earlier this year, his comments regarding Pakistan’s victories drew strict criticism from Indian players Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh who dismissed his allegations that Sarfraz Ahmed was winning matches because it was all scripted. Duh!

Ahmed Shehzad (Pakistan)

You don’t need to say much about this “Poor Man’s Virat Kohli” who rarely scores yet features in the Pakistan team most of the time. For someone who featured in the only loss of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, his holding the Cup was taken as an insult to those who actually helped Pakistan win. He has had disciplinary issues all his career and has been banned, reprimanded, suspended and what not. Be it his altercation with Tillakaratne Dilshan in an international match or teammate Wahab Riaz in Pakistan Super League, Shehzad has always come out as someone with issues that in his mind are as big as his own ego.

 

Ijaz Ahmed (Pakistan)

Chasing 223 to win an ODI against South Africa in 1994, Ijaz Ahmed was 98 not out when Pakistan equalled the score in the 45th over. With just one run required to win and 2 to complete his century (his second in as many innings against the Proteas), Ijaz Ahmed was bowled off a no-ball. Pakistan were declared the winner but Ijaz Ahmed went back to score the two runs that weren’t there! He was always in form in the final match of the series/tour and the selectors retained him. Followers of the game still remember his constant nodding while batting, where he appreciated bowlers from the other side, giving them the confidence they so much wanted. Add to this the countless times he ran out his partners or got run out himself and you have a dumb Cricketer suited to bat at number 3. During the tri-Series in Australia that Pakistan won, he once tried to complete a single without a bat (he had dropped it) and jumped into the crease in Superman style, only to be found short of his crease.

Inzamam ul Haq (Pakistan)

While all the players mentioned in this list didn’t look dumb, Inzamam ul Haq did in the early part of his career, until his match-winning innings in the Semi-Final of the 1992 World Cup. During England’s tour of Pakistan in 2000, he refused to do pushups, asking the coach that he will score a century if he is given a reprieve (he crossed 80 in both innings). Then during his final Test appearance, he tried to hit South African left-arm spinner Paul Harris for an imaginary six, ending in an embarrassing stumping, and a few runs short of breaking Javed Miandad’s then record of most runs for Pakistan. He remains the only batsman to lose his wicket by ‘falling’ on his stumps, obstructing the field, hitting a spectator (of Indian descent); he once hit a spectator with a bat for insulting him; he got almost every one of his teammates run out at least once. After turning Chief Selector, he gave a clean chit to Umar Akmal ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy who was sent back for his terrible fitness.

Umar Akmal (Pakistan)

Reckless. Careless. Stupid. Incompetent. These are the synonyms different coaches gave to Umar Akmal. Mohsin Khan kicked him out of the Test squad for being reckless; Dav Whatmore didn’t welcome him back in whites for his careless approach; Waqar Younis supported him but later termed him stupid; Mickey Arthur called him incompetent and unfit for the national team. He is fond of taking selfies, dancing on camera, fighting with traffic wardens and failing the fitness test, yet he got selected for more than six years, raising questions about Pakistan’s selection process. Be it his decision to not keep wickets in Australia (in place of Kamran Akmal), failing badly in a Super Over against England, not acknowledging Junaid Khan’s leave of absence in a domestic match or criticizing the coach for insulting him in a language he didn’t understand, Umar Akmal has been there, done that. In fact, people would remember him for his helpless look on getting dismissed that looked a lot like that school kid who was asked a question he didn’t have an answer to.

THE ONE TRUSTED WITH KEEPING WICKETS

Zulqarnain Haider (Wicket Keeper, Pakistan)

The rise and fall of Zulqarnain happened within a few months; he played a courageous knock of 88 runs on his Test debut against England in 2010 and won an ODI match against South Africa the same year. However, he couldn’t handle the fame claiming that players in the team didn’t like him for winning a nearly-lost match and that he received life threats after the win. The thing that makes him get a place here is his ‘Now You See Me, Now You Don’t’ act where he disappeared from the team’s hotel in the United Arab Emirates and reached the United Kingdom to seek an asylum! The British denied him the asylum but he didn’t return to Pakistan until the then Interior Minister Rehman Malik assured him of security. He was later fined by the PCB for breaking protocol and ditching the team when he was the only wicket-keeper in the side.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE!

Wahab Riaz (Pakistan)

What else do you expect from a bowler who regularly finds a place in the national team despite having been hit for more than 8 runs per over in 14 of his total 27 T20 Internationals; he went for 110 runs in 10 overs once that too without taking a wicket. Yes, he once bowled fast and pressurized Shane Watson but remember, he didn’t take his wicket and Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup just like it did 4 years earlier (on both occasions Wahab Riaz was on fire!). He has played 79 ODIs for Pakistan and on more than 31 occasions, he has ended the innings with more than 6 runs per over, that is not only poor but pathetic. He has taken 5 wickets in a Test innings twice in 7 years, but continues to don the whites!

Mohammad Asif  (Pakistan)

He was the senior bowler in the side when Salman Butt asked him to deliberately bowl a no-ball and get rich, in a Test match against England in 2010. With nothing to lose (in his mind), Asif came in and delivered a perfect no-ball much to his captain’s satisfaction. Little did he know that the Law Enforcement Agencies in the United Kingdom were monitoring the match and voila, all three culprits (Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif) were behind bars in no time. Asif’s name is included in this list because it was not his first offence — he had been detained at the Dubai Airport for carrying drugs (in his wallet) and was withdrawn from the tour of the West Indies (along with Shoaib Akhtar) by the Board for reasons unknown. In a separate incident, he was at the receiving end of Shoaib Akhtar’s bat during a dressing room brawl before the inaugural match of World T20 in 2007; that info was allegedly leaked to the media by a ‘Boom Boom’ Cricketer.

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (India)

Indian cricket team hasn’t been blessed with aggressive fast bowlers like Pakistan, so when Sreesanth made his debut, he was hailed as the solution to their pace problem. However, there was an issue with the pacer from Kerala and that was his mood swings. One day, he was dancing in front of South Africa’s bad boy Andre Nel after hitting him for a six; on another day, he was crying like a school kid after Harbhajan Singh slapped him after an IPL match. So when he was caught in a spot-fixing scandal during IPL 4, his detractors wanted to dance with joy while his fans cried like school kids!

Abdur Rehman (Pakistan)

Before there was Wahab Riaz with his 5 unsuccessful run-ups, there was Abdur Rehman with his three no-balls in Asia Cup 2014. Bowling against Bangladesh, the left-arm spinner bowled not one or two, but 3 consecutive waist-high deliveries that went for 8 runs, without a ball being bowled. He was banned from bowling further in the match and that proved to be his final One-day International for Pakistan. Two years earlier, he had served a 12-week ban for smoking cannabis while playing for Somerset. Rehman himself is to be blamed for ruining his international career due to his own stupidity, hence finding a place in this side.

Shane Warne (Australia)

He is undoubtedly one of the greatest spinners of all time but Shane Warne has always been a troublemaker. He was banned for a year in 2003 for testing positive ahead of the World Cup and in his defence, he blamed his mother for giving him the wrong pill, something his protégé Yasir Shah claimed happened to him as well (not the mother, but wife). Either it was too dumb on his part or too intelligent but when you are found to have committed sex offences, admitted taking bribes from bookmakers and been fined for using obscene language five years after retirement from the international stage, you are certified a dumb.

THE MANAGEMENT

Mickey Arthur — Coach (South Africa, Australia, Pakistan)

Pakistan Cricket Board selected the worst-performing Coach in Pakistan Super League’s first edition to handle the national side and the repercussions of that decision are now coming forward. Arthur’s reign with the Proteas was a great one but as Coach of the Aussies, he was a disaster and that’s what we inherited. Yes, Pakistan drew the series against England, reached the Top Position in Tests, won the ICC Champions Trophy but the players must share the credit because had it been entirely up to Mickey, Pakistan might not have done this well. His reaction to Wahab’s inability to bowl a proper delivery is his own doing because he kept getting him selected ahead of Junaid Khan, Sohail Khan, Rumman Raees and even Usman Khan Shinwari. Why is the question only he can answer!

Intikhab Alam
(Manager, who else!)

People are born either batsmen or bowlers but Intikhab Alam was born a manager. It was under his regime that Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992 and World T20 in 2009 but the credit must go to the Captains — Imran Khan and Younis Khan — and the players. Rashid Latif blamed him for turning a blind eye towards Match Fixing when it was starting to take place in the mid-90s. Intikhab Alam seems to be the ideal choice for the Manager of the Dumb XI.

Omair Alavi

omair alavi
The author is a freelance journalist. He may be contacted at [email protected]

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