THE Pakistan cricket team’s disastrous tour to South Africa ended on Sunday with the visitors losing the one-day series 3-2, which followed their Test series whitewash at the hands of Graeme Smith and his men. The nearly two-month, nightmarish campaign by Misbah-ul-Haq and his men has brutally exposed their inadequacies in technique and resolve to counter a top-ranked team such as the Proteas. More importantly, the lopsided contests have raised serious questions about the quality of cricketing talent that is being produced at the domestic level and is subsequently selected to represent the country. To say that Misbah-ul-Haq and his men were ill-prepared to tackle the tough challenges posed by the South African team would be an understatement. In fact, the team’s poor show coupled with the chaos in the ranks was ample proof that both our players and the team management were taken completely off guard by the opposition’s strength. Not discounting the fact that about a dozen Pakistani players in the current team were touring South Africa for the first time, we are compelled to put the blame squarely on seniors such as Younis Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul and skipper Misbah himself, who were certainly not alien to the conditions and should have led the way with their performance — but it never transpired.
By virtue of this flopped campaign, Pakistan cricket once again finds itself at a crossroads — and fast approaching the Champions Trophy in June. Even going back to the drawing board won’t really help. For Pakistan to become a force in world cricket, nothing short of an overhaul would suffice. The induction of new blood is key, which should be followed by a comprehensive plan to groom the talent on modern lines and on livelier tracks.