The last time Pakistan beat Australia in a Test match Benazir Bhutto was still very much alive and in her second stint as prime minister, current coach Waqar Younis was our premier fast bowler and teenage hero Mohammed Aamer was still in diapers. Fifteen years is a long time to wait for a victory against the Aussies but if there is one thing Pakistan cricket fans have learned it is the virtues of patience. Today, the euphoria is justified. Tomorrow, we must examine why we are so afraid to lose that we often end up throwing away matches where victory is assured. (In fact, had there been even 20 or 30 more runs to get on Saturday perhaps we would not be writing this editorial.)
First, the positives. Pakistan has undoubtedly the best bowling line-up in the world with pacers Mohammed Asif, Mohammed Aamer and Umar Gul hunting down opposing teams like bulls charging a red cloth. Salman Butt, in his first match as captain, did not lose his batting form as so many skippers have done in the past and made some interesting bowling changes, like trusting part-timer Umar Amin, that paid off. Our fielding wasn’t a shambles and that in itself is quite an achievement. Like the disastrous defeat at Sydney against the same opposition last year, we panicked in the hunt for victory. This time, though, we didn’t give up.
But now is not the time to be intoxicated by the scent of victory. None of the structural problems that afflict Pakistan cricket have been solved. The Pakistan Cricket Board is still led by an out-of-touch chairman who favours short-term fixes over truly revolutionary changes and removes and recalls players for no explainable reason. Our batsmen lack the technique and discipline to perform consistently and there is a severe lack of experience in the team. We have the talent to beat the best teams in the world; now it’s time to channel that talent so that we consistently win. Not all our problems are self-inflicted. Through no fault of its own, our cricket team will remain pariahs in the cricketing world until the security situation is sorted out back home. We should be overjoyed at beating Australia. But we should reflect on the fact that we had to do it in Yorkshire.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2010.