Pakistan cricket: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!
The team may be inconsistent and not have any big names, but what it does have is durability.
The 2003 cricket World Cup in South Africa was the last global tournament to host a Pakistani team full of superstars; steady openers, lethal fast bowlers and a world class middle order.
Many pundits and spectators thought the team would recreate the performances of the1999 World Cup, in which the men in green made it all the way to the final. Little did they know that this time the team would not even make it past the first round!
Waqar’s boys lost to three cricketing giants -- Australia, England and India -- while their game against Zimbabwe was washed out. The two wins they managed were against associate cricketing nations; Netherlands and Namibia.
What made this worse was that all the games lost, lacked team spirit and were massively one sided. The batting was irresponsible, the bowling was wayward and inconsistent while little can be said about Pakistan as a fielding side over the years. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), being in a tough position, was bound to make some big decisions after this debacle. As a result, most of the existing squad was dropped and new faces were brought in.
They say a good team is one which has a good mix of veterans and youngsters. Pakistan’s squad selected for the Sharjah Cup in April 2003 was full of inexperience and debutants. Pakistan went unbeaten in the tournament and showed immense mettle, proving all the nay-sayers wrong. It was a great achievement and marked a new era for Pakistani cricket; the era of unpredictability.
This PCB experiment had both its pros and cons. An advantage of this decision was that talented Pakistani youngsters got international level experience and a chance to prove their worth. However, Pakistani cricket, as a whole, developed a trait that it hasn’t gotten rid of till date; inconsistency.
With lack of senior players to guide the youngsters, Pakistan would often crack under pressure and throw away games that were in their complete control. But still, every now and then, Pakistan would put on a show and make it seem as if they were invincible. After all, Pakistanis are the bravest people in the world.
This past decade has been a testing one for Pakistani cricket indeed; controversies related to player discipline, performance enhancing drugs and spot fixing have made it to international headlines. During this period we have seen many potential cricketing heroes making a mess of their careers, contributing to inconsistent results of the team.
Furthermore, to make matters even worse, the 2009 Lahore attacks on the Sri Lanka national team put an indefinite end to international cricket in the nation. It is perhaps an amazing feat to still be considered as heavyweight in the world of cricket after all these incidents.
That said, Pakistan cricket has been given one too many chances, and it is time for the team to realise and pull its socks up. Albeit, Pakistan cricket has had its highs in this decade, they have made it to the knockout stages of several global cricketing tournaments and were able to win the 2009 world T20 cup.
The question is, has the experiment carried out by the PCB back in 2003 paid off? Do the pros outweigh the cons?
In my opinion, they surely do!
Pakistan cricket may be inconsistent and may not have any big names imprinted on its green jerseys, but what it does have is durability. It is resilient and has proved to the world that even the worse of controversies cannot hold it back and it will always be a major cricketing force.
If you ask me, this past decade has been a blessing in disguise.
Off late, Pakistan has developed great team spirit and the dressing room environment has never been better. The players put in their 100%, play for the star on their jerseys and stand united. They say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Pakistan has certainly proved this right by their efforts on the field.
The recent tour of South Africa might have been a failure but the team has shown great strength as a unit and has avoided controversies of any sort.
There is still a lot to learn and a great deal of hard work to put in. If things continue in this fashion, I reckon Pakistan cricket to be stronger than ever in this next decade.
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