A CATASTROPHIC ODI series whitewash at the hands of a third-string England side should pave the way for some serious introspection by the Pakistan players, team management and the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Pakistan were dismal, outclassed in every department by England, who were forced to name an entirely new squad just days ahead of the series after some players in the initial squad tested positive for Covid-19. The only signs of some fight from Pakistan came after the series had already been lost, in the third ODI on Monday, where captain Babar Azam and the other batsmen finally hit form and got in the runs. Pakistan’s batting had been blown away in the first two matches and despite posting the highest total against England at Edgbaston, it was the bowlers who came up short on Monday.
There can be excuses made, most notably that Pakistan’s training sessions in England, following their quarantine period, were affected by rain. But still, it raises questions about whether the players, coaches including Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis, and the selectors are doing justice to their jobs of carrying the hopes of an expectant cricketing nation.
Days before the team’s departure for England, Younis Khan, the team’s batting coach, quit and his absence was sorely felt as there was no one to address the batting woes after Pakistan meekly lost the first ODI.
The team now has to rebound quickly with the Twenty20 series starting this week against an England side back to full strength with most of their big-name players returning from coronavirus-enforced isolation. It’s a series of significance and will show where Pakistan stand heading into the T20 World Cup later this year. With increasing calls for heads to roll, anything other than a win in the T20 series will ratchet up the pressure on the coaching staff. However, that shouldn’t overshadow the underwhelming ODI performance or discount the fact that it is time for some deep soul-searching while identifying and rectifying, at all levels, the areas where decision-making has been found wanting.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2021