My priority list for PCB
Zaka Ashraf must arrange more international tours, bring Mohammad Yousuf back and retain a captain.
Undoubtedly, the new Pakistan Cricket Board management has been proactive in solving problems. Unexpectedly, it has been our new PCB Chairman who has come to the rescue.
Zaka Ashraf seems to be more serious about his priorities than the previous management, but there remain issues that need immediate attention. So here's my list of what should be top on the priority list:
1. International tours
For more than a year, the Pakistani cricket team has not played at any venue outside of the Asian continent.
Other than hosting a series in the UAE, we have had no practice on international pitches like Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand. Hence, we have had no real preparation to defend our fragile batting line-up and equally brittle bowling line-up.
Great teams like Australia do not have a laid-back approach like ours. They apply the principle of 'practice makes perfect' in their team strategy and play persistently and continuously with minimal gaps between each series. On the other hand, Pakistan has taken a two month gap till the time they play their next series against Sri Lanka - this is, again an Asia tour series and not on an unfamiliar international pitch.
Zaka Ashraf should concentrate more on arranging international matches outside of Asia to evaluate the real strength of our team.
Reviving international cricket in Pakistani grounds is undoubtedly important, however, the first priority should be to play on international pitches more often. A tight schedule of matches and more stringent evaluation methods should be in place; we must give our players a run for the money they are being so generously paid.
2. Bring Mohammad Yousuf back
They say experience is the father of wisdom, and the best way to replace experience is to learn from it. Why doesn't the Pakistani cricket team use this as their motto? We can bring forth fresh talent and train them under the leadership of our experienced players. When the situation, timing and circumstances are right, we can make the change.
Unfortunately, we have the habit of awkwardly removing our experienced players first, and then replacing them with inexperienced players, only to realise our mistakes after failure.
We promoted Mohammad Yousuf as captain, then banned him for an indefinite period, lifted the ban, brought him back and dropped him again for no reason.
If reasons of fitness and form are brought forward, the smarter route would have been to give him time to rebuild himself. At the time, however, Yousuf played better than the likes of Misbahul Haq and others. A world class player, Yousuf, despite these unfair actions against him, is willing to give Pakistani cricket yet another shot.
The current line-up is not capable of scoring big in the international arenas just yet, and what we need to realise is that we need Mohammad Yousuf.
3. Retain one performing captain
When M S Dhoni lost the series in a clean sweep against England and Australia, and then lost the Asia cup title, everyone was expecting the BCCI to immediately remove Dhoni and bring in a new captain. However, they unexpectedly decided to retain him.
The same happened with Ricky Ponting, later replaced with Michael Clark, who was strategically brought in and trained under Ponting’s supervision. The case with Pakistan, however, is completely different. The Pakistani cricket team changes captains like we do our clothes.
We need to learn how to retain our captains and give them the status and respect they deserve. We must encourage a sense of loyalty from the team towards their captain; this will, in effect, put an end to locker room politics.
To succeed as we have in the past, efforts at constant improvement must be made. It is only once we realise our deficiencies can we build on our strengths.
Read more by Raja here.