At long last, what the nation had clamored for came to pass. Good sense dawned on the ‘wise men of Gotham’, who handle our cricketing affairs and our regular wicket keeper cum batsman was inducted into the playing eleven. The man’s performance against the mighty South Africans was enough to justify this decision, a reconfirmation of which manifested itself in the young man’s performance behind the stumps and as one half of the opening pair, in the game against Ireland.

While the media continued to chalk up controversial bits about the hostility between the Head Coach and this particular player, it is time that this nonsensical bit of journalism should stop. I for one was happy to see the senior of the two gentlemen enthusiastically hug the hero of the match – a hug that would finally bury any controversy.

What endeared Sarfaraz to people like me was the manner in which he handled the interview after being declared the player of the match in two back to back games. His decision to speak in Urdu was the best national image projection that we could have done. I would have been happier though, if Ramiz Raja had done the same (with translation for the English speaking crowd).

Another interesting aspect of the match was how Umar Akmal repeatedly abstained from playing scoring shots, so that his partner could score his century – the first for Pakistan in the ongoing tournament. While some critics of the game might not condone this, I for one am inclined to give young Umar a pat on the back for what he did.

As far as our bowlers are concerned, there are a lot that we can be justly proud of. They have the ability to put life into dead pitches, generate bounce and turn from nowhere and make the ball swing magically both ways in the air.

In my reckoning, the game of cricket does not thrive on talent alone. A professional cricketer must pass through different stages of education regarding the game and evolve into a great player. This becomes all the more important in our case, where the bulk of our cricketers pick up the game in their early years by playing in the streets. They therefore lack the basic grooming and correct social behavior on and off the field that is an important part of this game and which can be acquired through formal coaching and mentoring in national academies. Given the talent that these men have, I have no hesitation in saying that if trained in an organized manner, they can dazzle the cricketing world with their skills.

I have been a great critic of the Cricket Board and will continue to be so unless intervention at the highest level cleanses it of political hangers-on and weak Chairmen. We have great players, now leading quiet lives, who were once superstars with the bat and the ball. Their understanding of the game, practical experience and leadership qualities make them ideal candidates to lead the PCB. One example is the legendary Majid Khan – cricketer and gentleman par excellence. Such is the man’s sportsmanship and integrity that I have personally seen him walking away from the stumps towards the pavilion knowing that he had nicked the ball, when he could have waited for the umpire’s decision and a possible benefit of doubt. I have picked Majid at random, for all his former team mates and contemporaries have what it takes to reform PCB into an effective and controversy free organization.

We now await the big quarterfinal game (again in Adelaide) between Pakistan and Australia. I am looking forward to this encounter because we appear to have finally found an opening pair that clicks and batting rhythm to go with it. We have gone into this stage of the tournament as underdogs and this fact injects the possibility of upsetting predictions in favor of the Aussies. Our ability to rise up after a poor opening performance adds to the team’s mystique, generating pressure on the opponents. So, from all of us at home, it’s a heads up and best of luck for Team Pakistan.