ON all counts, the Pakistan cricket team’s tour of Australia was more of a case of professionals versus schoolboys.
The visitors were comprehensively out-batted and overwhelmingly out-bowled by the hosts. Pakistan was trounced by a team that was operating on a different level altogether. Not only were the Australians at their zenith in terms of performance, they also executed their game plan with utmost discipline.
Meanwhile, Pakistan lost back-to-back Tests at Brisbane and Adelaide that followed the comprehensive T20 drubbing. The absence of a strategy was evident throughout, starting from the unceremonious removal of Sarfraz Ahmed on the eve of the tour. He may not have fared well at the World Cup, but he is a better leader any day than the clueless Azhar Ali.
The PCB also blundered by putting all its eggs in Misbah-ul-Haq’s basket. With no prior experience, Misbah selected raw teenagers Naseem Shah and Moosa Khan to be the bowling spearheads, a move which hugely backfired. Inexplicably, Misbah left out experienced batters such as Fawad Alam, Sami Aslam and Abid Ali from the team and continued to back Haris Sohail and Iftikhar Ahmed for the Tests, both of whom were unable to survive the Australian onslaught.
Pakistan’s dependence on leggie Yasir Shah must also end now and slow bowlers Mohammad Asghar, Umar Khan and others must be considered. Babar Azam’s exploits as a batsman of exceptional quality remained the only real high point. The brilliant right-hander was undaunted by the strength of the opposition. The same, however, could not be said of Pakistan’s other top order players Azhar, Asad Shafique, Imam-ul-haq and Shan Masud.
The PCB may be engrossed in preparations for the first home Test series in a decade, but it must realise that teams need to develop their players according to the challenges of the moment. The PCB should always keep in mind the importance of professionally grooming players, regardless of whether it’s a home series or an away tour. The game is more competitive now than ever before.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019