Where Pakistan fails and South Africa succeeds
While teams like South Africa learn from mistakes, Pakistani cricket seems to never learn from frequent mess-ups.
Members of the South African team will be visiting the Emirates for the first time. Jacques Kallis is the only player on the team who has already visited the UAE, back in October 1999. A lot has changed in the cricketing world in those 11 years.
South Africa’s journey
Soon after South Africa’s last visit to the UAE, a gentleman, fighting leader, cricketing mind and great human being received a lifetime ban over allegations of dishonesty. Hansie Cronje may have paid the price, but the effect it had on South African cricket are evident.
After South Africa’s 2003 World Cup defeat, the team not only fired Shaun Pollock as captain, it also went on to take the brave decision of appointing a young skipper with a grand vision. Graeme Smith might not have done wonders as a captain, but he hasn’t backfired either. Imagine, after eight long years, Smith will stand as captain in his second world cup.
The next stage has already been defined. Johan Botha was well-groomed under Smith's captaincy to continue in both the limited overs format and test cricket. Another important point to note is that Smith is still a wonderful T20 player, as one of the most successful opening batsmen. Also, Shaun Pollock remained an active part of his team, even after his removal as captain.
The developments mentioned above are not about a developed nation like England, or a totally professional setup such as Australia. These are from a country which is still learning and developing in many ways. However, the chances of something similar happening in Pakistan are slim. There have been a host of changes in the Pakistan team, though sadly, almost all of them were negative.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan…
Cricketers think that they are no longer fit for a specific format of the game; thus, they announce their retirement. However, in a few weeks’ time, they realise that the team may need them, and label themselves “available if needed”. Some even retire completely, only to be selected by the board and put on the next flight to join the team. It is difficult to count the number of captains being appointed.
On top of everything else, a report from a reputable justice recommended restricting some players from becoming captain. The players who were annoyed about not being selected for a specific format of the game joined a neighboring country’s so-called “unofficial league”. And how can we forget the self-proclaimed, autonomous selection committee, which selected a player for the test team, that too as a captain, although he had no recent performances to prove his worth. There have been so many similar mess-ups, one can’t keep track of them.
Things have changed for everyone. At a time like this, when most teams are prepared for the upcoming world cup, the Pakistani team is still unsure about who the captain will be. Although news from the two T20s was not good, we can hope that the ODI series starting today in Abu Dhabi tilts towards victory for Afridi's eleven. It might give this team something to build upon, and to our nation something to smile about.