The selection committee of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced 36 probables for a summer training camp to improve the fitness and mental toughness level of the players for the series against Sri Lanka and the next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Pakistan are to play seven Tests, 13 One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 international matches before the World Cup.
First Pakistan will tour Sri Lanka in August this year and then will play the “home series” in the UAE against Australia from October to December.
The chief selector, Moin Khan, has warned that players would be dropped if they did not gain the required fitness level. It’s a good move from the PCB to keep players fit and in practice in the long off season as without 100 percent physical and mental fitness Pakistan cannot even dream to win the World Cup.
Dropping Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik is a brave move, but recalling Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, Taufiq Umar and especially fast bowler Mohammad Sami has surprised the fans and critics. Taufiq’s last Test appearance came against Sri Lanka in July 2012. He played his last ODI in May 2011 against Ireland. Yasir played his last Test for Pakistan in August 2010 against England. His last ODI appearance came way back in November 2007 against India.
Sami played his last Test in July 2012 against Sri Lanka. He took only one wicket and conceded 92 runs. In his last One-day International, in June 2012, he gave away 75 runs in 9.4 overs and failed to take any wicket.
The conditioning camp may be helpful for the players to improve their fitness and skills, but it’s not a permanent solution as only a limited number of players can be invited to the camp. And they, too, will get training for a limited period.
There should be a plan for all the domestic players who are to replace the seniors from time to time.
It is our bad luck that Pakistan’s domestic structure is not up to the international standard and has failed to provide quality players who can compete with top players of the world and cope up with the pressure of crunch situations.
The players who score record numbers of runs and take wickets regularly in domestic cricket fail to deliver the goods when chances are provided to them at the international level.
The board is more responsible for this situation than players themselves. What can a player do when he is not used to the conditions he faces at the international level, especially the green tracks?
In the domestic matches, the batsmen face little bounce and movement, so it is too tough for them to tackle high bounce and greater movement when they play abroad.
When they play on the bouncy tracks in Australia, England or South Africa, they fail miserably. They get out mostly behind the stumps or in the slips.
The board never provides any opportunity to domestic players to play on fast and grassy tracks. It’s hardly surprising then that there have been numerous calls for the appointment of a batting coach but so far the board has refused to listen. They have appointed head coach, bowling coach and fielding coach but not quality batting coaches who can tell the batsmen their weaknesses and improve their skills.
India appointed former South Africa Test opener Gary Kirsten as the chief coach after their team’s humiliating first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup and in four years, India came so strong that they won the World Cup in 2011.
It is also important that the senior players should be rested for matches against low-ranked sides so that they may remain fit and fresh for the tougher oppositions.
The second advantage of the senior players’ exclusion would be that the junior players would gain some international experience.