To say that Pakistan cricket team had a disastrous tour of Australia would be an understatement. The men in green were completely dominated by the Australian team in both Test and ODI’s. The tour highlighted some of the alarming issues of Pakistan cricket team that despite being highlighted and worked on, time and time again, refuse to go away. Certain problems that have forever been associated with Pakistan cricket were present throughout the tour and were some of the reasons that led to the team’s downfall.
- Problem with the mindset
For the past few years, Pakistani players have played with an approach of “better safe than sorry”. Instead of trying to get the batsman out, our bowlers have waited on the back foot and tried to restrict the flow of runs in hope that the opposition batsman will make a mistake. Similarly, our batsmen have tried to defend their way out of tough situations, rather than trying to counter attack. While in many cases this approach yielded positive results, Australia is a team that is always looking to attack hence, using restricting techniques against them was never going to work. In the second and third ODI where Mohammed Hafeez was leading the side, there were glimpses of Pakistan trying to push the match rather than wait on the back foot but once Azhar Ali returned, it was evident that players had resorted back to familiar tactics.
- Fast bowling
While many fans still believe that batting is Pakistan’s biggest problem the fact is that since the 2015 world cup, the standard of Pakistani bowling has declined significantly. One of the primary reasons for this decline has been due to the below average performance of the fast bowlers. A lot of hopes were associated with Mohammed Amir however, the fast bowler failed to create an impact especially in the test matches. Other fast bowlers like Wahab Riaz, Hassan Ali, Junaid Khan and Sohail Khan failed to produce a match winning spell and were brutally attacked by the likes of David Warner and where the fast bowlers did create some chances; they didn’t get any support from the fielders; which leads us to our next problem.
- Fitness and fielding
Fielding has always been the Achilles heel of Pakistan cricket since its inception. In the past, the bowling line up of the team was so brilliant that even if some opportunities were missed the team had the tendency to bounce back. In the modern day cricket, though, giving players like David Warner and Steve Smith extra chances can only result in big totals which are out of the range of our batsman. One of the primary reasons why the fielding standards of our players are not up to the mark is the poor fitness of the players. Even though, a lot of players had improved their fitness due to the training camp at Kakul, they failed to maintain their fitness levels coming into the Australian tour. Players like Imad Waseem and Umar Akmal had clearly gained some weight and overall the fitness levels were clearly not up to the requirement. The problem was further aggravated due to the team management’s unwillingness to test the bench strength. Despite having Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz in the squad, Mohammed Amir was made to play every game despite the fact that he was clearly not looking hundred percent.
In the past, I have always stated in various articles that Azhar Ali should be given time to properly establish himself as the captain. However, after this series, it is pretty clear that Azhar Ali’s future as the ODI captain is bleak. In tough situations, teams often look at their leaders to inspire but both Azhar Ali and Misbah ul Haq failed to deliver in this department. In contrast, when Azhar Ali didn’t have extra responsibility during the test series, he batted brilliantly and showed his class in the longer format. On the contrary, it is pretty clear that his batting style is not exactly tailor made for the shorter version of the game. With reports already surfing that Sarfaraz Ahmed will be appointed captain soon, it is safe to say that Azhar’s tenure as the captain of the limited-overs side is over.
- Selection problems
Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, and Yasir Shah could all have been in the ODI squad but the selectors and the team management continued to stick with Mohammed Rizwan. Akmal and Shehzad were particularly in hot form and with the return of Sarfaraz Ahmed due to personal issues; Akmal was a perfect choice to return to the side. Similarly, the selection of Umar Akmal continues to pose questions marks. Many people will argue that Akmal had performed brilliantly in domestic cricket but by this point, Umar Akmal has wasted far too many opportunities to be given another chance. On many occasions, he has failed to deliver for the team and it is now time that selectors move on and try some other new players.
By now, you might have noticed that none of the above-mentioned problems are new for Pakistan cricket, in order to succeed, it is important that Pakistan learns from its mistake and do not repeat them. But more important than discussing problems is to find solutions so stay tuned to GenY as we look at how Pakistan can correct its problems in a future article.