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Standing tall in the shortest format

Pakistan cricket team won the Twenty20 series against New Zealand after losing the One-day International ...

Standing tall in the shortest format

Pakistan cricket team won the Twenty20 series against New Zealand after losing the One-day International series 5-0. With the win, Pakistan secured the top position in the ICC T20 team ranking. Interestingly, Pakistan stands on sixth and seventh positions in the ODI and Test rankings, respectively.

No other team has such a huge ranking difference in the three formats. India are on top in Test, second in ODIs, and third in T20s.

South Africa stand second, first and sixth in Test, ODI and Twenty20, respectively.  New Zealand are fourth, fourth and second, respectively.

The gap between the T20 and Test status shows that Pakistani players don’t have the skills for the longer version of the game. Test cricket needs temperament, skills and patience, while the shortest version mainly requires power hitting.

We are specialist in the shortest format of the game and if in future ICC organises a 10Ten tournament, Pakistan will be among the favourites. The simple reason is that due to too many T20 leagues, our batsmen have lost their temperament. Now they want to hit every ball and can’t wait for a bad delivery.

Test cricket is dying in Pakistan and the mother of our problem is our domestic structure, which is afflicted by politics and favouritism. It has failed to produce technically sound players. If we want to compete at international level, our domestic cricket should be made highly competitive.

Reducing the number of teams in first-class tournaments can improve quality. Fewer teams need fewer players so they will have to put in extraordinary efforts to enter a first-class team.

The management should concentrate on the betterment of Test cricket that is real cricket. Test series on the UAE pitches can’t attract fans and sponsors.

Pakistan traditionally have not had a good run in Test cricket. Especially since the early 90’s, we have been considered good at ODI cricket and just competitive enough in Tests.

Under the mature and calm leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan became a very strong Test side. In 2016, Pakistan became the number one Test team following an impressive 2-2 draw in the four-Test series in England. There was a huge difference between Pakistan and other teams who secured the top position. Pakistan had not played at home for seven years, missing the benefits of home ground and crowd.

But it was a short-term success story as Pakistan failed to retain the top position. The year 2017 was not a great year for team Pakistan in Test cricket and the number one team slipped to seventh.

Decline came in both batting and bowling departments as the team’s overall average dropped from 29.35 to 26.16, while the strike rate dropped from around 50 to 43.24.

After the retirement of Misbah and Younis Khan, a huge gap has been created in the middle order. The four-day domestic matches in Pakistan are not widely followed. The simple reason is that people have no interest in a game played between WAPDA and NBP or other departments, unless both teams have huge stars. The matches are mostly tedious and non-competitive, and the ground conditions are pathetic.

Twenty20 cricket provides an action-packed atmosphere on the ground and usually attracts crowds. Many cricketers around the world have turned to T20 cricket in a bid to prolong their careers and pocket millions of dollars.

Pakistan cricket has suffered a lot due to the ill-planning by some individuals. If the PCB officials have any dignity left in them, they should work for the betterment of the sport rather than their own vested interests. It has been said time and again that the domestic structure of cricket in Pakistan needs a radical overhaul. Only then will we be able to fully overcome the issues facing the sport.

If attention is not given to domestic structure, the Green-shirts will keep struggling on fast and bouncy tracks as they did in New Zealand.


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Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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