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'Pessimism among Pakistan's fans has nothing to do with results'

Updated May 29, 2019

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Squad selection and poor form means that Pakistan go into yet another major tournament with questions marks on the team's ability. — AFP/File
Squad selection and poor form means that Pakistan go into yet another major tournament with questions marks on the team's ability. — AFP/File

It’s very rare to come across a piece of writing that speaks directly to you — I came across not one but two such pieces, in a single day and on a single platform.

The gist of Ahmer Naqvi’s op-ed in Dawn says “what’s wrong with choosing hope over despair?” Then Kumail Zaidi’s comment piece asks ‘mopes’ why can’t they let fans be fans and buck their team up? Both tremendously well-put optimist takes.

But as a bona fide purveyor of pessimism on matters of Pakistan cricket, I take it upon myself to plead our side of the case. And I say “our” because I am just one of the many millions on this side of the divide.

You see it’s been wrongly established that Pakistani fans only want their beloved team to win, and every time they don’t – which is often – all hell breaks loose.

We’ve been portrayed as a bunch of uncompromising supporters when the roots of our pessimism are not even buried in results. In fact, either of the two obvious outcomes have nothing to do with our grief.

The point here is that there may even exist a hypothetical scenario where fans like me would have no qualms in losing and crashing out of the World Cup. That would of course be when we know that the team did its homework, picked the best possible line-up and gave its 100 per cent, only to see its 100 per cent fall short of the opponents’ 100 per cent.

A defeat at this point would still disappoint us but won’t deject us.

Now let’s analyse the state of affairs come this World Cup. When the original roster was composed earlier this month, it was clear that this side was picked not on the basis of any scientific method or empirical evidence but reputations and hopes (read Mohammad Amir’s inclusion). It was clear that analytics and yoyo tests had taken a back seat to eye tests.

A drubbing at the hands of England later, the selectors panicked and brought in Wahab Riaz. That would have been fine had this Wahab Riaz not been discarded in the summer of 2017.

But after two years of relying on Usman Shinwari, Inzamam and bunch binned all their years’ worth of plans and strategies and inducted an ageing pacer. The realisation that he has 'pace' hits them out of the blue.

This might work for a casual fan but for the hardcore ones, the ones who take the sport seriously, the ones who want some logic and homework behind every team decision…it is a slap in the face.

We take no pleasure in playing killjoys but the fact remains that not once has this team gone into a tournament at full strength and without major question marks hanging over its team selection.

Not once has it given the fans a fair crack of the whip. If they had and then they had failed, we would have had no complaints. It’s the ubiquitous cloud of “what could have happened” that has turned us into the gloomy Gus that we are.

We will not change until there is evidence that Pakistan cricket team is being run like any sports team should be, instead of just rolling the dice and hoping that Lady Luck smiles on us.