Pakistan cricket makes news for wrong reasons in 2007 | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Pakistan cricket makes news for wrong reasons in 2007

Matching the political turmoil in the country, another tumultuous year laden with controversies ended on a disappointing note for Pakistan cricket.

cricket Updated: Dec 24, 2007 19:18 IST

Matching the political turmoil in the country, another tumultuous year laden with controversies ended on a disappointing note for Pakistan cricket.

It was a period that most Pakistan cricket fans would like to forget quickly. The irony was that 2007 was notable more for off-field news with the retirement of batting stalwart Inzamam-ul-Haq and the death of coach Bob Woolmer in mysterious circumstances, plunging the team into disarray.

Both events came in the wake of Pakistan's shock first round exit from the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies brought about by an upset defeat to minnows Ireland.

The team bounced back to reach the final of the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa before losing narrowly to India. But successive Test and ODI series defeats to the Proteas at home and India away ended 2007 on a bitter note.

It was after 28 years that India managed to win a Test series against Pakistan at home.

Given what unfolded during the year, it is not surprising that Pakistan cricket fans remain concerned about the future.

It was a year when Pakistan cricket had several opportunities to dress itself in glory but none of these were taken with the national team winning just one and losing four out of eight Tests played.

In one-dayers, it managed to win only eight out of 23 matches.

"The turmoil which hit our cricket in 2007 highlights the need for radical steps to be taken to put things right. But unfortunately the Board is avoiding taking honest and strong decisions for the future," former captain Mushtaq Mohammad said.

The unsatisfactory results were on the cards following a series of selection shenanigans earlier in South Africa where Pakistan lost the Test series 1-2 and were drubbed in the one-dayers.

If this was not enough, in September maverick fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar brought more infamy to Pakistan cricket by striking teammate Mohammad Asif with a bat after a practice session before the T20 World Cup.

The team management sent him back as a disciplinary measure and Akhtar had to serve a 13-match ban and pay a fine of 3.4 million rupees for four violations of the code of conduct for players.

But the paceman appeared not to have learnt from his past indiscretions despite promises to turn over a new leaf when he made a comeback on the Indian tour.

In India, he made the headlines more for his off-field activities than his bowling and the result was Pakistan's defeat in the series.

Akhtar and Mohammad Asif were forced to miss the 2007 World Cup because of fitness problems but had some good news when the World Sports Arbitration Council cleared them of doping charges on technical grounds after an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency filed against their exoneration in December 2006 by Pakistan Cricket Board.

Hardly had the humiliation of a first round exit in the World Cup sunk in, when came the news off Woolmer's death in Jamaica after he was found unconscious in his hotel room a day after the defeat to Ireland.

The death highlighted the contempt with which the outside world viewed Pakistan cricket.

The international press made every effort to prove the involvement of Pakistan cricketers and the match-fixing mafia in the death terming it as murder.

The players were treated as suspects before they returned home and Inzamam took his final bow.

The master batsman, who gave yeoman service to the national team since 1992, was allowed a chance to make a final appearance in the second Test against South Africa but fell short of Javed Miandad's record of the highest Test run aggregate for Pakistan.

His successor Shoaib Malik, after enjoying one-day success against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi and in the Twenty20 World Cup, soon learnt that captaincy is not a bed of roses with two back-to-back series losses.

Under fire for his captaincy and form, the authorities have backed Malik as captain for 2008 but questioned the contribution of the Australian coach Geoff Lawson.

On a brighter note, Misbah-ul-Haq arrived as a worthy successor to Inzamam belting 464 runs in India after getting a second chance at the age of 33.

Misbah formed a formidable middle order with Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf but the captaincy issue did not help with Younis playing musical chairs.

After the World Cup, Younis refused to accept captaincy which then went to Malik.

But in India, he reluctantly led the side in the final two Tests after Malik was injured.

On returning home, Younis did a turnaround saying he was ready to lead the side but the Board said his decision had come too late.