This was supposed to be the preview of the India-Pakistan game at the World Cup!
Unfortunately, I now have to write about the captaincy crisis in Pakistan and the moves by the Indian board to get Indian cricket back on track.
As far as the captaincy crisis is concerned, I don’t think we have heard the last of the Younis Khan saga. The Pakistan Cricket Board does not have too many options for the post of captaincy and chances are that they will try to convince Younis one more time. I feel that it was wrong of him to refuse the post especially for the kind of reasons he has given.
He claims that he was pained and upset by the backlash that followed Pakistan’s exit from the Cup. What did he expect? The team was in the weakest group. The Irish loss is particularly disappointing when we now see how every other team is mowing down the Leprechauns. The anguish of the fans was expected, and Younis as well as the rest of the team must take this reaction in their stride.
Younis is the only person with experience as a vice-captain, and I don’t think the board is considering the other Y, Mohammed Yousuf, too seriously at the moment. I am not aware of the characters involved, but there is a feeling that Yousuf is not the man for the job. More importantly, he is the batting mainstay of the team, and there is the danger that added responsibility might affect his batting.
Sadly, the problems of Pakistan cricket do not end here. There has been no team-building activity and, with the departure of Inzamam, even the middle order looks shaky. The captain, coach and selectors must take the blame for the complete absence of openers and even youngsters who are groomed and ready to fill the middle order slots.
Youngsters like Salman Butt and Yasir Hameed were kept out for reasons that were not entirely cricket related. I hope these youngsters are re-inducted and even groomed for leadership. Till that happens, the board will have to prevail on Younis to take charge.
Meanwhile, the Indian board has taken an extensive look at the reasons behind the Indian team’s failure, but I hope the diagnosis is appropriate with the examination. To blame Greg Chappell for India’s exit was a bit far-fetched, especially when I know where he comes from. He wanted to build a team rather than a group of individuals and he wanted to create a culture of aggression.
The Indian board must try to get fewer teams to play the Ranji Trophy rather than lessen the number of teams in the Elite stage. The idea is to concentrate the best players in fewer teams, and unless that happens, there is no point tinkering with the structure of the competition.
The endorsement issue is the naughty boy syndrome, and the cricketers are being rapped on the knuckles for their poor performance. However, this move will neither improve nor worsen the way the Indians play. The steps that need to be taken have to be cricket-related and not related to the non-cricket activities of the players.
This World Cup continues to be the most insipid edition of the tournament till date. The ICC needs to make it shorter next time around. The whole focus has already shifted to the semifinals and everybody is just waiting for the Super Eight games to end - which is not the way the game’s showpiece event should be viewed.