Our boys in green have once again let the Nation down, driving me to make a resolution never to watch our team play. I cannot promise to keep this resolve indefinitely, because I will probably break it at the next international fixture – thanks to the fact that like most Pakistanis, my whole family is cricket crazy.

The golden era of our cricket came to a close two decades ago (shortly after winning the World Cup), to be replaced by a sordid tale of intrigues, avarice and politics involving the management and players. One of the richest cricket boards in the world became a prized destination for inept officials, who pulled out every stop to keep their job, no matter how it affected the game.

There was a time when our national squad consisted of talented young men coming from educated backgrounds. Many of these players graduated from university and club level cricket. They were equipped not only with talent, but with passion and a thorough knowledge of the game and its ethics. I remember that one of the top clubs in Pakistan was known as the ‘Eaglets’ and it was this institution that produced some legendary players in the nineteen fifties and sixties. I consider myself lucky to have stood by the Eaglets’ Nets on Warris Road in Lahore and watch these icons hone their skills.

Then came a time in the post 1992 era, when cricket ceased to be the domain of the ‘elite’ and began picking up youngsters, who had begun their game in the streets. These players had amazing talent, but lacked the grooming and temperament that makes a reliable and good team member. Many of these young men were school and college dropouts and used cricket as a means of economic prosperity. It was this ‘chink’ in their outlook that seduced them into getting involved in ‘spot fixing’ scandals. They callously ignored the notion that cricket was a ‘gentleman’s game’, where players like Majid Khan never hesitated to walk off the wicket, knowing that he had nicked leather, when he could have got away with it by standing his ground and putting the umpire in doubt.

I remember the humility and natural courtesy of names like Fazal Mahmud, Mahmood Hussain and Imtiaz Ahmed. I knew these players since childhood, because each one of them was closely known to my family. I fondly recollect watching the Muharram procession approaching Karbala Gamay Shah, perched on the canvas roof of his police jeep, while the King of Leg Cutters stood beside me in uniform doling out candy for my benefit. A few years ago I had the opportunity to interact with some big names in Pakistan Cricket. I was appalled at their arrogance and the attitude that reeked of ‘I know all.’ As a student of history, I felt apprehension rising within me because of the irrefutable fact that anyone who considered himself to be a ‘know it all’ was more than likely to be someone, who was the most ignorant of the lot.

The T20 World Cup match with the West Indies was an event critical to Pakistan’s qualifying for the semifinals, but regretfully our national team appeared to think otherwise and played street ‘bat and ball’- not professional cricket, to lose the opportunity in an abysmal manner. Watching this match reinforced the belief that drastic measures were needed to put our team in shape. These measures required focus on physical fitness, technique and above all, the ability to think through the game without coming under pressure. The training must be ruthless so that chaff was sifted out and only the best remained to be groomed and molded into world class players.

READ MORE: Clear negligence

n    The writer is a freelance columnist.