COMMENT: Have faith in fresh faces and shun negative approach to achieve glory

Published January 21, 2021
India celebrates winning on day five of the fourth test match between Australia and India at the Gabba in Brisbane on Jan 19. —  Reuters/File
India celebrates winning on day five of the fourth test match between Australia and India at the Gabba in Brisbane on Jan 19. — Reuters/File

TO be gobsmacked at what the Indian touring team to Australia has managed to achieve in the end is a lot milder expression. In fact, to be truthful, they having won the series 2-1 after being shot out for a humiliating 36 in the first Test at Adelaide have once again showed us that where there is a will there is a way.

India’s memorable three-wicket win at the Gabba in Brisbane while chasing a record total and that too without their star players such as Virat Kholi, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and with acting captain Ajinkya Rahane leading the charges brilliantly says it all about their magnificent achievement.

It is a lesson for those who fear to back new names and fresh faces. Pakistan must take a leaf out of what India achieved in Australia.

Fresh faces do bring the desired results if used sensibly. We here have horrendously missed out on that recently, wrangling on personal likes and dislikes at the expense of the game.

Frequent changes at all levels, be it captaincy and playing the right team combination as the situation demands is the order of the day. Unfortunately, and unforgivingly, our team selectors and coaches have lacked the courage to take bold and timely decisions despite failures in South Africa, Australia, England and lately in New Zealand.

One man band or team seldom tastes success or experience the feeling that the victory brings. One of the major reasons of Pakistan’s failures at Test level recently has been their over-dependence on Babar Azam’s success. His below par outing on English pitches and his injury in New Zealand obviously dampened our team’s chances and those who wholly and solely relied upon him failed to deliver despite opportunities.

I was perplexed at the selectors’ decison of leaving out Asad Shafiq from the tour of New Zealand. A man of such vast experience of playing in foreign lands should never have been overlooked. He has been put on the backburner yet again and I don’t take that as a good sign. Having said that, I am utterly pleased that new chief selector Mohammad Wasim, having set the norms aside, has picked a largely inexperienced but talented bunch to take on the South Africans who, I still believe, are a strong outfit. With strong men like Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Cock, Temba Bavuma, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and others featuring in their line-up, the Proteas can be a handful when on song.

If performance at domestic level is taken as the criterion for selection, then Tabish Khan should have been inducted in the team long time ago. The highest wicket taker in domestic cricket by some margin, Tabish, I feel, has been a victim of erratic, discriminatory and biased selection over the years. Not just me but quite a few other knowledgeable critics who have known the setup in Pakistan cricket for long, know well what goes on in team selection. Fawad Alam is a case in question and so is Tabish. Where others failed at the domestic level, they delivered day in and day out and yet escaped the blinkered vision of our so called selectors.

I am sure that after having achieved results which certainly have not been encouraging at the international level, we as a cricketing nation need to view the whole situation to reassess the pitfalls of the policies which our selectors adopt and maintain, and how their arrogant and naïve stance have cost the team and the country over the past few decades.

I want to say to these selectors and coaches that don’t find excuses like quarantine, lack of practice and opportunities and all that. Look into your own shortcomings and follies for your misdoings and the injustices done towards deserving players and you would know what fair-play is all about.

Look at India, their disasters and their glorious comeback and to England or New Zealand who faced similar situations like we do today but with a will to succeed and the gumption to strengthen their performance, they enhanced their stature and achieved top rankings that they truly deserve.

Pakistan, with so many uncapped players — in fact nine of them — can not do any worse than those who have consistently failed us series after series. So have trust in them and the young team that will face South Africa, and things might change for the better.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2021

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