In the streets of Bihar, a young kid with long hair called Mahendra Singh Dhoni is becoming exceedingly famous for his ability to hit the tennis ball. In Pretoria, a pale skinny Abraham Benjamin de Villiers chooses cricket over rugby, golf, tennis and hockey. In a small Dunedin backyard, scruffy-haired Brendon Barrie McCullum is playing cricket with his elder brother. Change is in the air, unbeknownst to those who, thousands of miles away, sit in the lavish headquarters of the PCB in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. Fearless, brash and aggressive, the trio would usher in a new era; an era of big bats, massive hits, and huge scores. When Dhoni hit that winning six in the 2011 World Cup, the cricketing world knew it was time to change. Same, when De Villiers smashed a hundred off 31 balls and when McCullum stunned in the 2015 World Cup.
Scores of 250 suddenly became inadequate. In came men in the ilk of the trio who changed the game. Attack became the best form of defence. Pakistan, though, refused to change their stubborn ways; sticking to the tried and tested method that had provided them with so much success in the 90s. Sometimes it is difficult to let go, especially when the nation continues to live on the memories of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. In doing so, Pakistan have allowed the rest of the cricketing world to outgrow them. A team that once prided itself on mercurial and raw talent is now solid but unspectacular. All because we refused to move on and clung onto a relic and buried our heads in the sand. Coach Mickey Arthur has said time and again, in no uncertain terms, that Pakistan have to change. Yet old habits die hard, and it will now be a long and painful process; one that Arthur has been unable to kickstart despite being at the helm for more than nine months now. It is clear that Pakistan must now learn to walk again before they can fly. But learn they must, before it is too late.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2017.
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