THE Pakistan cricket team’s lacklustre show in South Africa where they were whitewashed 0-3 in Tests besides losing the ODI and T20 series has dismayed our cricket-crazy nation and compelled the critics to call on the PCB to adopt urgent corrective measures.
Though the team’s graph in international cricket in the past two years had remained quite impressive with wins in England, Ireland and Zimbabwe, it is now back to square one with successive defeats against New Zealand in the UAE and now South Africa, which have raised serious questions about Pakistan’s ability to withstand quality opposition, especially in the longer version of Tests.
The truth is that at no point during the African Safari, except in a couple of ODIs which they won, did Sarfraz Ahmed’s men look competitive enough or show resilience or even appeared like putting their act together to challenge the hosts.
Despite the talent, despite a bevy of coaches accompanying the team, despite substantial exposure, it was the same old story of embarrassing batting collapses, dropped catches and poor bowling while fans kept waiting for that moment of defining overseas triumph.
There is serious work to do with both bat and ball if fortunes are to change.
Green, fast-paced tracks ought to replace the featherbeds at home and in the UAE which have given a false feeling of superiority to the players.
While many have seen through the façade, the board continues to gloat over the team’s successes at ‘home’ which eventually leads to fiascos such as the one in South Africa.
The bowling, too, is one-dimensional. Pakistan need the tangibles as well as the intangibles to graduate from a good team to a great one.
Sound techniques, calm temperaments, unwavering attitudes, innate match awareness and a knack of winning the key moments are special qualities that define great teams and which Pakistan seem to lack.
With an average team age of under 30, they are young enough to start putting these qualities together if they are determined to turn things around before the World Cup in May.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2019