LONDON: Pakistan won the ODI series in Sri Lanka but the team’s fall in the rankings is down to its inability to move with changing trends and the lack of young talent in the squad, according to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shahryar Khan.
The 1992 World Cup winners were ninth in the ODI rankings following a home-series win over Zimbabwe in May but the 3-2 win in Sri Lanka moved them ahead of the West Indies and closer to Champions Trophy qualification.
Pakistan were knocked out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals and whitewashed by Bangladesh earlier this year. Prior to the win against Zimbabwe, Pakistan had lost its last five ODI series.
“I think the major factor [for the team’s slump] is that the modern game has moved on and we’re stuck in a time warp of the 1980s and 90s playing way,” Khan told Dawn in London
“Secondly, I don’t think we were introducing enough young players with fresh legs. We’ve seen Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Sami make a comeback and we would’ve gone back much further if the selectors had their way without me acting as a barrier.
“We are producing enough talent but it’s a matter of chancing the future with the devil I know rather than the one I don’t. They wanted the Sohail Tanvirs, the Taufeeq Umars and the Nasir Jamsheds because these are the people that are known to people, Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis.
“But when they opt for that, they find me a barrier. Eventually, I’m getting my own way.”
The captain and coach’s reluctance to try new faces and persist with the known names was down to the importance of winning games – or the fear of losing them – according to Khan.
The PCB chairman did laud the performance of new ODI captain Azhar Ali – who took over from Misbah following the World Cup – as well as Sarfraz Ahmed before adding that Malik “has proved his worth” following a comeback that Khan had “reservations about”.
PSL looking ‘dicey’
Khan was not so convinced about the fate of the Pakistan Super League though.
Pakistan’s planned Twenty20 league might get pushed back yet again due to unavailability of grounds in the UAE and lack of established options.
The tournament was due to be held in the UAE next February but all major venues will be used for the proposed six-team Masters Champions League.
Qatar, which hosted a women’s ODI and T20 tri-series in 2014, was touted as a possible replacement but with just a single international-standard venue, the tournament might get postponed.
“I’m not a great T20 man so I’ve left this project to Najam Sethi and the others. But at the moment, it’s looking dicey. And at this late stage, to go to Qatar and put everything right for February, it’s going to be difficult.
“My theory is that if you can’t do something well, don’t do it.”
Khan added that he wanted to host the tournament in Pakistan even if it meant not getting the top-quality players who would refuse to visit due to the security issues.
Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and Karachi were named as possible hosts by the PCB chief who said that financial incentives would have worked well in getting known names to play in Pakistan.
“I thought we should host it in Pakistan but they don’t take my advice on this.
“You won’t get your top players like Kevin Pietersen, Glen Maxwell and AB de Villiers but you might get Dwayne Bravo, Jason Holder, Elton Chigumbura and quite a few Sri Lankans who are short of money.
“Give them a bit of money. That way you’ll fill up the stadiums and you not only have foreign players playing in Pakistan, but you’re setting the stage for a bigger PSL next year when you’ll have access to the UAE grounds.”
Selecting a new ‘home’ venue
Pakistan's future ‘home’ series are also facing a similar dilemma and the PCB is now looking into having Bangladesh and South Africa as possible venues from next year.
Pakistan will host England and India in the UAE later this year but Khan confirmed that the two alternatives were being looked into as they provided options and better cricketing atmosphere.
“The UAE is fine but it’s expensive and we don’t get too big a crowd there. Bangladesh is a very good alternative. It has excellent grounds and the crowd is friendly. South Africa is another possibility and they are very keen to host us. We’re talking to both boards.
“At the moment, due to the political situation, it’s not possible to host our matches in India but from a cricketing point of view, there’s nothing against it. If relations improve, we could consider it.”
Scotland and Ireland were also options, according to Khan, but the unreliable weather has made them weak contenders.