Pakistan’s World Cup 2015 campaign ended as it should’ve, with a best-eight playing in this elite cricket competition. Anyone who thought that our team could’ve done better, either suffers from unreasonable patriotism, or believes the bookies made us lose. It was naive to think that this band of creaking joints and clueless greenhorns could maintain their giant-killing act throughout the tournament. For a brief moment in the quarterfinals, we made Australia antsy, got our foot in the door, and then chopped it right off with poor fielding, no surprises there, that’s how we have played ODI cricket of late.
Having said that we should be pleased with the bottom-line, Misbah’s men did their limited best, and Pakistani fans can live with that. For starters, we didn’t implode in a knockout game. Pakistan made the middling score it was capable of against a red-hot Australia, and then let loose the fired-up Wahab Riaz hoping for a miracle. Unfortunately, the team reverted to its butterfingered self, and it was death gong from there.
History, I feel, will be kind to Misbah-Ul-Haq. Long after the taunts of ‘tuk-tuk’ have faded, he will be remembered as the wartime Churchill of Pakistan cricket. As captain and batting mainstay, he inherited a rolling stone on its way down, and arrested the slide. Speaking of ODI boots, Shahid Afridi has also hung up his. To Shahid’s legion of fans, the man has been entertainment personified; a single-minded rebel against conventional batsmanship. Unfortunately, after his early batting heroics, Shahid started believing in his own hype and stopped progressing. His generation of pinch-hitters, including Dilshan and Sehwag, added nuances to their bludgeoning ways, but not him.
The real question, then, is what makes an ideal ODI skipper? Safraz Nawaz and friends value a ‘big heart’ over everything else. Unfortunately, a big heart with an ordinary technique is still a poor cricketer. Umar Akmal, arguably, has the biggest of hearts, but that extra blood drawn away from his brain makes him do foolish things. If Imran or Miandad are the benchmarks, then the next captain should be a big match player, able to both absorb pressure and change gears at crunch time, right now, its slim pickings on all counts.
S.MUBASHIR NOOR,
Islamabad, March 25.