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Monday, Dec 16, 2019

Turbulence in Pak a blow to world cricket

Majid Khan's critical outburst against the PCB is proof that if the ICC were to select a nation for producing off-field drama, Pakistan would run away with the award, writes Amrit Mathur.

cricket Updated: Jul 01, 2008 23:59 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times

Majid Khan's critical outburst against the PCB is proof that if the ICC were to select a nation for producing off-field drama, Pakistan would run away with the award. When it comes to consistency in this department, Pakistan is in a zone of its own.

Usually, they hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. During the last World Cup, the team lost its coach in circumstances that remain mysterious till date. Despite an investigation by the Scotland Yard, nobody knows what actually happened to Bob Woolmer.

Pakistan cricketers were respected for their fighting spirit. Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Inzamam-ul Haq were exceptionally gifted, proud cricketers who raised the level of Pakistan cricket and gave it respect.

That spirit has all but disappeared and the team, even with the win in Dhaka, seems to lack spunk. The current team looks an unruly bunch of tired and jaded cricketers. Pakistan cricket, searching for inspiration and new stars to ignite a revival, had hoped Salman Butt would fill the role but the left-hander did not put his hand up.

Sohail Tanvir stood out with his deceptive left-arm pace in the IPL but the others remained benched most of the time. Shahid Afridi swung his bat wildly and missed. Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf did not matter and the rest, Shoaib Akhtar, Misbah-ul Haq, Mohammed Asif and Kamran Akmal were largely peripheral.

Shoaib has done everything except play cricket — his versatile nature has dragged him into a wide range of controversies related to drugs, defamation, indiscipline and physical assault. His successor Asif can't shake off controversy either but the recent break in Dubai would have given him an opportunity to reflect. Senior pro Younis is another odd character. In a permanent sulk for various reasons, he threatens to walk out every few months.

Cricket officials are equally quick on the draw. Salim Altaf was sacked in a manner Vijay Mallya would approve --- he was shown the door on the basis of tapped telephone conversations and leaked e-mails.

Imran Khan, the original King Khan, is an unsparing critic of their domestic cricket so much so that his views on General Parvez Musharraf seem mild in comparison. As the system fails to deliver results, Pakistan cricket is sustained by instinct and individual brilliance, and talent springs up suddenly, like for instance Tanvir. But now, at least for the moment, the supply has dried up.

Cricket's growth is also stunted by the size of the Pakistani economy and media. Traditionally, an India-Pakistan clash had raw, compelling intensity and Sachin Tendulkar vs Shoaib Akhtar was cricket drama at its magical best. In this light, if Pakistan is weakened by turbulence of any kind, it hurts India and world cricket.