The farce

In what seems like a complete farce, an unnamed source from PCB has told APP that the captain of the Pakistani Women’s Cricket Team, Sana Mir, is likely to lose captaincy as well as her place in the team after Pakistan's dismal performance in the ICC Women's World Cup in England, saying: “She [Sana] failed to lead Pakistan in a proper way. Her own performance too was not satisfactory.”

Ms. Shamsa Hashmi, Secretary Women’s Wing, has also been reported in the news to have called the captain’s performance as “not very encouraging”.

The facts

I followed all of Pakistan’s matches and it is not true that their performance was “dismal”.

First of all, ours is one of the youngest and least experienced teams who qualified for the World Cup. The qualification itself is an achievement for our team.

They played against teams who had been playing for decades before our team was formed in the mid-90s; with facilities and resources many times those that were available to our women’s cricket team.

Even so, they almost beat South Africa, and restricted India to their lowest score of 169 runs in the tournament (in contrast India made 281 against England, ranked number 2; and 226 against Australia, ranked number 1).

To teams who were better matched, Pakistan lost by small margins – to the West Indies, by 19 runs (D/L method) and to Sri Lanka by only 15 runs. The bowling and fielding ranged from brilliant to good in many of the matches; the batting, however, was weaker, made more brittle by Bismah Maroof’s injury.

Bismah Maroof’s injury and replacement exposed the lack of depth in reserve players, which the top teams have and we do not. The batting also showed just how utterly ineffective the coaching had been.

Diana Baig, who made her debut, shone among the younger players with her bowling and enthusiastic fielding.

But the Pakistani star of the tournament, despite losing all the games, was the captain, Sana Mir.

For the PCB to indicate that Sana Mir should lose her position in the team sounds at best like a bad joke. And at worst, a craven attempt to scapegoat the most valuable player.

With an average of over 30 runs in 5 innings, Sana had the highest batting average and performed with the bat and the ball, even in games when the rest of the batting side collapsed like dominoes.

Sana also took six catches, one of which was Nissan Play of the Day. She took the highest number of wickets (3), two catches and made the highest number of runs (45) against Australia – the top ranked team in the world. (In contrast the second highest batting score from Pakistan in that match was 21).

Sana Mir’s was the best and most consistent performance all around; the ICC statistics speak for that.

She is the only Pakistani woman cricketer to be ranked number 10 all-rounder in the world, and number 12 bowler in the world. No one else from Pakistan is even ranked in the top 20 in any ODI category. Sana Mir is also the 6th all-rounder and the only Pakistani woman who has a record of 100 wickets and 1000 runs.

Sana Mir’s consistent performance and captaincy in a high pressure environment indicate strength and maturity of character, which cannot be quantified in numbers but are obvious to anyone who has seen her play and heard her speak. She received high praise from the tournament commentators, who said that of all the captains, they thought Sana led her side the best.

For the PCB to indicate that Sana Mir should lose her position as captain and a player in the team, therefore, sounds at best like a bad joke. And at worst, a craven attempt to scapegoat the most valuable and accomplished player.

The questions

Who in their right mind fires the best performing and highest ranked player after a loss?

Is this how you take care of young women who are doing the best they can, with the modest resources and facilities you have provided them? Is this how you recognise the courage and achievements of those who represent you? ? Is this how you expect to improve and grow your team?

If all the blame for the losses is on the captain then what is Mr Najam Sethi’s role? What is the Chairman’s role? What is Ms Shamsa Hashmi's role? What is the coach's role? What does management draw a salary for if everything is the captain's fault?

Yes there should be a review and quite a bit of soul searching. All the players, including the captain, should learn from the mistakes so that they can improve and grow.

But the management cannot and should not be allowed to get away with heaping all the blame on a single player – the captain – and firing the coach (who was also engaged by the management). PCB's top management – Mr Sethi, Mr Shehryar Khan, Mr Aizad Sayed and Ms Shamsa Hashmi – should review its own performance first.

Has PCB provided the players all the resources, facilities, coaching, training and other support to expect them to win world cups?

I suspect the answer is 'no.'

Therefore, according to ethical standards of management, it's the PCB’s top brass, not the captain and not the team, that should be held accountable for these losses.

Note: In the earlier version of the article it was stated that no other Pakistani woman cricketer is ranked in the top 20 in any category. Two other Pakistani players, along with Sana Mir, are ranked in the top 20 in the T20s. The error is regretted.

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