Miracles do occur even nowadays. Be it cricket or normal life. That’s what we’d seen yesterday, when the most un-predictable team Pakistan defeated the most boasted one in the final of ICC Champions Trophy. A number of cricket pundits were of the view that the final would be played between India and England or India & some other team; none except Ramiz Raja had foreseen Pakistan as the competitors. The way Pakistan lost to India in the beginning was again a repentance of what we used to see during last couple of years. I was among those who were dreaming a final between the two, just because we needed to crush the ‘fear’ aura, come out of our refuge and prove our mettle in the international cricket. By the grace of Almighty Allah, it’s happened, now.
ICC Champions Trophy was the most remarkable in the sense that the winners had won against South Africa, England and India, i.e. No. 1, 2 & 3 teams in the ICC ranking. So, it’s no joke. We have proved that learning a lesson is important, but, acting upon it is more significant. Time and again, we’d discussed the core issue of coaching. Even I second those who say, there is no need to appoint a foreign coach, as the language problem and other issues do not allow the budding players to learn what they should. However, this time it seems as if the coaching staff has become successful in mending the ways of players in the right direction.
Here are few suggestions, keeping in view of Pakistan’s performance in the ICC Champions Trophy:
- Ouster of seniors
Just like my senior of UBL Sports, Sikander Bakht, the former Test cricketer, I do believe that seniors like Muhammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Wahab Riaz have gone past their prime time; they should be expelled or in soft words sent home. Sikander was quite right while commenting in the ICC Champions Trophy that even if some of them scores a half-century or so, you should say thank you, goodbye.
Doing something good, after a lapse of several months is not what we require from any player, esp. seniors who have earned name and fame. For Azhar Ali, I think there might be some reconsideration, though he plays Test cricket in ODI, as well. He did it in early matches of ICC Champions Trophy.
- Prepare the substitute wicketkeeper
Sarfaraz is heavily burdened and for quite some time no other wicketkeeper is seen in action, for reasons. By the way, we have a fine choice in Muhammad Rizwan, but, he has been restricted to T-20 only and even in Twenty-20, he has been used as a fielder, rather. This is a serious issue. We must prepare him or someone better than him to act as a substitute for Sarfaraz Ahmed, the most energetic wicketkeeper of the ICC Champions Trophy. And by the way, we MUST NOT opt for any of the Akmal brothers.
- Reconsider the Opening
Although Azhar Ali made some tremendous performance in the final of ICC Champions Trophy, yet, he is not a ‘Hard-hitter’ as one should be in the capacity of an Opener in a One Day International. So, unless we have another aggressive Opener, we have to continue with him, but, he is better in Test on permanent basis. If Sharjeel Khan is not cleared, why not some other players is sought?
Salman Butt was a good Opener. If Muhammad Amir has been accepted for any reasons, why not Salman and Muhammad Asif, then?
- Lessen the workload from the shoulders of Sarfaraz
Sarafarz has proved his worth as captain in the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy. However, in my opinion, Sarfaraz should be restricted to ODI and T-20, while a new captain should be there for Test. Since Abdur Razzaq is fitter than any young All-rounder, I strongly propose his comeback as the Skipper of National squad in Test. He is still capable enough to lead Pakistan and win encounters, smoothly.
- Talent-hunt at the grass-root level
PCB has only recently started a drive of searching for new talent at school level. I think they must think, plan and execute a massive grass-root level talent hunt all over the country.
- Refresher camps for the National squad
Our players need to be taught and corrected for their routine faults, errors and blunders. There should be a refresher camp for a day or so, under locally hired coach, like Haroon Rasheed, the most qualified in this field so that the cricketers learn to improve by overcoming their habitual shots etc.
Last, but, not the least, Pakistan should keep going on the same way, with the same team-effort, good management and great enthusiasm to progress speedily.