The Asia Cup is already underway, but the format is such that the serious business begins later. Everybody is looking forward to Thursday’s India-Pak match . It seems difficult to see a final without India, because they look in better shape than either Sri Lanka or Pakistan.
I was impressed when I saw Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Pakistan two years ago, and he has impressed me even more as captain. He now looks ready to lead the side in all forms of the game, and his teammates seem to be responding well to him. It’s a young, fearless side led by a young and fearless man.
The same optimism cannot be shown as far as Pakistan is concerned. Right from the moment Inzamam-ul Haq forfeited the Test match in England, Pakistan cricket has gone from one crises to another — World Cup exit, drug scandals, Shoaib Akhtar’s ban and now Mohammad Asif’s detention.
This is what happens when institutions are not strong enough — a mini Musharaff takes on extraordinary powers and acts like a dictator. It was wrong to ban Shoaib for five years in the first place. Now, the world will be watching to see how the PCB handles Asif’s case, because drugs possession can be seen as a greater misdeed.
It’s sad that after Shoaib let himself down with indiscipline, it’s now the turn of Asif. He was a truly natural new-ball bowler. If he had worked hard and been disciplined, he would have been world’s most dangerous bowler. Instead, he is now awaiting a verdict for possessing drugs.
At a time when talent is hard to find in Pakistan, Asif’s case has been a serious blow to the team. I am also not in favour of Shoaib Malik being given a two-year tenure as captain. Even when I was established as captain, I was always made captain only for the series ahead. Such long-term planning is another example of how high-handed and arbitrarily cricket is run in Pakistan.
A captain can only earn respect if he is doing his bit as a player. Shoaib is a good cricketer and seems to have a sensible head. However, the question is, does he automatically select himself as a batsman? Unfortunately, the answer is no, and till he changes that he cannot lead with authority.
Misbah and Salman Butt deserve to be regulars, but their repeated omission while others were getting repeated chances should be investigated.