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What if Hafeez fails?

Published May 16, 2012 10:57am


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In August 1995, Ramiz Raja returned to the national team fold after 28 months on the sidelines. Pakistan had played 15 Tests and 44 ODIs during Raja’s absence. Now, this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary; a veteran coming back to a team for an Indian summer is commonplace the world over. But, this being Pakistan, his comeback had to have a tinge of the extraordinary: Raja was appointed captain on his return to the side. The captaincy would reside with Raja for the Test and ODI series against Sri Lanka (both lost), before Wasim Akram became the captain. Salim Malik, Moin Khan and Saeed Anwar, amongst others, had already captained Pakistan during that year. This was Pakistan’s preparation for the 1996 World Cup.

Sports teams – particularly in cricket – have used periods of success (almost always borne out of stability) as their foundations for further success. Pakistan followed the 1992 World Cup with an era of anarchy that Maurizio Zamparini would have been proud of. The number of captaincy changes from Imran’s lifting of the crystal dome to the commissioning of annoying nationalist songs by soda companies was in double figures. Every loss had a consequence; and more often than not it was the removal of the captain. Pakistan continued to lose because of instability, and remained unstable due to a lack of success on the field. It seemed like the Pakistan cricket fraternity was acting out a tragicomedy based on the works of Joseph Heller.

This was also a formula that the board applied to perfection in the aftermath of the 2009 World T20. A successful tournament or phase for Pakistan seems to become a millstone around the neck of the people responsible for that success. As if the public and board think that if a team shows the ability to provide joy once, then it is imperative upon them to never provide sorrow again.

Thank God, we don’t do that anymore.

In completely unrelated news, Mohammad Hafeez has been named as the new captain for the Pakistan T20 side. He has replaced Misbah-ul-Haq who was disappointed at himself apparently, or something along those lines.

Since his comeback in 2010, Hafeez averages 39 with the bat and 26 with the ball in Tests. His corresponding figures for ODIs are 37 and 34. While these numbers might not be earth-shattering, they are pretty decent for a Pakistani opener, and when allied with his success with the ball, they do present the picture of a key component of Pakistan’s recent success. In many ways he is the epitome of Team Misbah: a promising youth drafted into the team before his time; then he became the player Pakistan specialises in – someone who was not a regular but never completely discarded; he worked on his game outside the interest of the typical fan, and returned a better player. The current team are ambassadors of the NCA and the domestic game – both institutions that are given far less credit than they deserve. Moreover, it helps that he can be talked of as a “clean man” in non-ironic tones.

His numbers, though, are skewed by his performances against the minnows (averages 36 with both bat and ball in Tests and in ODIs, if Bangladesh and Zimbabwe aren’t taken into account). Even more frustratingly, he remains guilty of his oldest faux pas. Osman Samiuddin described him during the 2011 World Cup as the man most likely to win the award for “most authoritative and prettiest 20s and 30s”; and a year on he remains true to that description.

In the cold light of the day, the decision seems logical. Eventually, the board has to build for the AM (After Misbah) era. Misbah, after all, is old enough to have attended the Lahore Resolution, so to bank your future on him would be naïve. But shouldn’t this be done in a more agreeable manner than by dropping him from one form of the game, however ill-suited he may be to that – even though, his return to the team, and to prominence, was in that format (Yep, it is pretty confusing).

In a more prosaic country and institution, this would be nothing more than a passing of the torch. In Pakistan cricket, though, this is the PCB showing its hand – publically admitting to not being fully supportive of their captain. What will that do to the carefully manufactured team morale? What happens if Pakistan performs badly in the World T20 under Hafeez? What happens if the team’s performance in other formats dips – and one of the reasons for that is this decision? How will the players react to seeing the first crack in the castle’s wall?

Pakistan have never been devoid of players wanting to be top dogs, what makes us believe it has changed in the past 12 months? Is this decision, or rather the way it has been dealt with, going to help the national team? Is Mohammad Hafeez worthy of signalling the beginning of the end of Team Misbah? I think the answers to all these are pretty obvious.

The lid has been lifted. The contents of the Pandora’s box have nothing stopping their escape now. How many times does history have to repeat itself before the persons-in-power take heed of its lessons?

The writer is a sports nerd, and does not believe that opinions other than his own are valid. He can be found presenting his opinions as fact on his blog and twitter.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (58) Closed

AB_Jaf May 16, 2012 01:13pm
Well Hassan, Good view point and you gave the reasons from the past as well, but looking at the current bunch of players, Hafeez is the right choice for shorter form of the game. We still have issues for the long form of the game as Misbah wont be able to continue for more then 2 yrs, so we must find some alternate for it also.
Mansur (Namibia) May 16, 2012 02:39pm
I agree with writer. As Mohsin said it should have been done after world cup but, the PCB is used to spoiling the balance when everything was going good. Recently Pakistan had won the Asia Cup, now the team was jelled. Let us hope for the best.I think Misbah is the best captain, best player at the moment in all forms of game, Misbah did play slow in a few matches but at that moment he thought it as his strategy, did everyone forget that It was Misbah in first T20 final who brought Pakistan within a stroke of winning it when all others including Hafeez had failed.
Kashif May 16, 2012 03:02pm
The writer is a sports nerd and not a sportsman. I am disappointed at this article.
ADf May 16, 2012 03:03pm
What's ur point man seems to be confused Either Afridi or Hafeez Both are gamble which pakistan has to take
zeeshan khan May 16, 2012 05:57pm
captaincy should not be thrust onto someone, it is a grooming process take the example of australia after ALLAN border retired they already had STEVE WAUGH ready, steve waugh retired they had ponting ready, HAFEEZ should be given a long term as captain so that he can prove himself.
Rizwan May 17, 2012 12:00pm
"What if Hafeez fails?" now thats funny. It implies as if Hafeez has even an iota of success of any kind around his career. Hafeez has been nothing but an abject failure, even after 8 longs yrs in international cricket, all he's to show for his performance is a paltry 30s & 20s batting average - pathetic to say the least. He has failed to correct very obvious & fundamental flaws in his batting technique and still can't judge the ball correctly. And after being a complete failure in transforming himself into a a steady & reliable openining batsman, he is now trying to bill himself as a potent off spinner. Well here's a news for you Hafeez - your first & foremost job in the team is to give a solid opening stand and you've failed in that field miserably. A complete waste of space & existence is how I would describe him as a cricket player. Its funny that this pathetic loser has been appointed captain of T20 team now. What leadership credentials does he bring to the table?
Jawwad May 16, 2012 03:13pm
To add to your comment what if Misbah refused to pass on the torch and PCB's hand was forced to make this decision?
cricketcola May 16, 2012 02:46pm
don't know about Hafeez though but the pessimism you have exhibited through the title has definitely failed you!
Yes May 16, 2012 05:28pm
Far too many heavy high culture references. We get it. You're smart. You read. So do many of us. Write like a normal person, for normal people.
Khan May 17, 2012 08:04am
Hafeez is a good choice. He has the experience and knowledge to lead the team. He is known as 'the professor', people in the team highly value his opinion. As long as they all gel together under his command and perform, we will keep on winning. Go Team Pakistan!
ali May 16, 2012 06:10pm
Misbah is still fit and capable to lead Pakistan through the world cup.The pressure of captaincy has not hindered his performance as a batsman.The new chairman is a rookie as such he is dependent too much on his more experienced advisers, in any case Hafeez is not a bad choice but he should be able to perform both with the bat and the ball plus handle the pressure of captaincy.IF he does that he will succeed if not he will fail, only time will tell.
Bilal May 16, 2012 05:03pm
Pointless article. Hafeez hasn't even started yet, he must be given a chance to prove himself. With the current team structure, Hafeez is a good choice.
Siham May 16, 2012 02:52pm
One question: What if Hafeez succeeds? Your article is way too biased against both Hafeez and Misbah. You probably should have compared his figures to all the previous T20 captains and then concluded that this decision may cause a "crack in the castle's wall."
kashif May 16, 2012 06:38pm
confused article, hafeez is the only choice, afridi should pay more attention on his batting. no other option left for pcb i am sure hafeez will be better and more responsible player after getting this resposibility.
Khan May 17, 2012 07:59am
Hafeez is a good choice. He has the experience and knowledge to lead the team. He is known as 'the professor', people in the team highly value his opinion. As long as they all gel together under his command and perform, we will keep on winning. Go Team Pakistan!
Azim May 16, 2012 07:27pm
I think this DAWN news paper is an INDIAN FUNDED NEWS PAPER , its a vry nice article to demoralize Pakistani Player
Notnormal May 16, 2012 07:57pm
Normal people have the masala news channels to get their news from....don't worry!
Rizwan - US May 17, 2012 12:05pm
Giving someone else an advice is different than handling the situation itself as captain of the team. I believe Hafeez is not the right choice. He is an ordinary player with a mediocre average with both bat and ball.
Atif May 16, 2012 08:49pm
The author does not state, what should have been done instead. Should Misbah have been persisted with in T20s? For how long? Should there have been another captain instead of Hafeez? What merit does that have? Hafeez is indeed a man of pretty 20s and 30s; unfortunately, even those were not coming in the T20s recently. However, he is a solid performer with the ball so that should give him confidence. PCB, however, should have nominated him until at least the T20 WC.
Kos May 16, 2012 08:50pm
Without Misbah the pakistan team will not be able to bat through the full 20 overs against Sri Lanka. Mark my words!
shabut May 16, 2012 09:01pm
An article with too many assumptions is not worth an article. The article also fails to answer the question, What if Hafeez Succeeds.
Yasser May 18, 2012 07:04pm
I am actually glad that Hafeez has been made the captain. This means he has no place to hide any more and all his shortcomings will be scrutinised that much more. The guy is a club cricketer at best. Sadly, there is no one around who is captaincy material - maybe Younis Khan.
Taqi Quli May 18, 2012 06:59pm
Hafeez is appointed for 2 T20s only and why you drafted the future failure which may depends on multiple reasons out of Hafeez hands. Give a big break. No matter how our team look like on paper, but we have the ability to pull things from nowhere. Team unity is the key and Inshallah again our team will perform well in the coming series. We have the young side for the limited overs especially for T20 but the experience from T20 and ODI will mould best the team for T20 WC this year.
parveez May 16, 2012 10:47pm
Hafeez is not a good choice,he is not responsable, how many times he score 30s and then give his wicket away.
ali May 16, 2012 11:45pm
give him a chance at least before predicting his failure. if he fails then bash on him but give him a chance first!!!!
Ammar May 17, 2012 12:44am
The innocent guy hasn't even started yet and you are already focusing his failure.
uanwaar May 17, 2012 02:38pm
then we will have Afridi as captain... Yahoooo
MTT May 18, 2012 05:36pm
Good article! Appointment of Hafeez as T20 captain does point to end of team misbah. Bad decision by PCB.
ksaleem1 May 17, 2012 05:19am
No need to read this article. The title says it all. How can you comment when you have not given a chance to Hafeez. He is a good cricketer but this stuff is absolutely negative.....................At least let him start his job & the we will see if he fails or...........
Optimist May 17, 2012 05:36am
Pessimist- confused- jumping from one to another topic with no relevance to the title.
@Ahmed_Zulfiqar May 17, 2012 05:39am
Senseless and disgraceful decision to change the skipper before such a big international tournament, and that too with a glorified bits and pieces player who has never done the deed against a top side, in any format. Top article, and agree on all points raised by the author.
arham May 17, 2012 06:44am
totally pointless,he has not started yet.....
Guest May 17, 2012 07:26am
Cano not Agree MORE with you Bilal , counting the Chickens Before they even hatch is the Nature of Our so called Enlightened Super Educated Media writers , No matter even if they had held the ball or the Bat in their entire life BUT they are EXPERTS
rorolia May 17, 2012 07:31am
What was the point of this article? Just because Misbah's ego is too much to gulp the fact he should have retired from T20 himself, we should just keep hoping that old grandpa will willingly pass the torch himself?
Aniket May 17, 2012 07:32am
Dear Hassan, Empathies from India. Neither the Pakistani cricket establishment, nor the common cricket fans are operating with a long-term, objective view aimed at the betterment of cricket in Pakistan. Even as you focus on the qualities (or lack thereof) of leadership and team spirit within the team, your fellow countrymen who are not looking beyond pettier things such as batting and bowling averages, and driven by a blind followership of their team, hang you out to dry. Life is not easy for people like you in Pakistan. My thought process is similar to yours, but my similar articles about India and Indian organizations usually get appreciated. On rare occasions they don't. I can understand your predicament.
kashif May 18, 2012 04:56pm
agreed hafeez is not gifted player but he is hardworking, afridi and shoib shouldnot be the captain again afridi should pay attention to his batting and shoib malik too controvertial in past and his place in the team is still a question mark others are too young to be leader hafeez is very good choice and he has enough experince to deal with this responcibility.
zohaib rauf May 17, 2012 11:08am
either the writer is a punk, or either he wants cheap publicity - the way he is writing the article to ignite a spark
S.Hussain May 17, 2012 09:35am
An unorganized article. There exist no similarities between the appointment of Ramiz Raja as a captain, and Hafeez's appointment. Too much jibber jabber with no real content.
Saqib Ali May 17, 2012 10:11am
baseless and time wasted article... sorry but article should be to the point.
Bilal May 17, 2012 01:02pm
Pointless waste of ink, I "envy" these "bloggers" whose minds r so free all the time, no matter whatsoever, which is evident in the article. Must be so peaceful living such a naive fantasy life. "He can be found presenting his opinions as fact on his blog" haha funny, half the people in pak these days, who can write a bit of english, have "Blogger" as their status (That doesn't necessarily make you one!) Regarding the article "Mr.Sports Nerd" ur glass is half empty which is evident by the negative title. I don't know if Hafeez will fail or not but U have definitely failed here. (As suggested by most of the comments)
Waqas Haider May 18, 2012 07:56am
First of all captains are no appointed by keeping in mind that if he fails what will we do ... Had it been the case there would have been no change in captaincies if you dont give chance to new people you dont improve . We should appreciate boards decision and stop criticizing . This is the problem with our nation . If the board would have kept the same captain then we would have problems too and now that board has changed the captain we are having problems too . He should be given complete authority and safety and chance to improve as a captain . He is captaincy material and he is agressive too . Shahid Afridi is not trust worthy he can come out with anything either he can surprise you with his excellence or he can humiliate you with his inconsistent behaviour and form . A poor article it is really .
MKQ May 17, 2012 05:57pm
thank you for stealing the words out of my mouth!!!
MKQ May 17, 2012 06:06pm
my God.....why are some ppl sooooooo negative??? for God's sake!!!! this is the perfect time to test mohammad hafeez out in light of the approaching t20 world cup.....sure he may not have good batting averages.....but what does that have to do with his captaincy skills?? have you ppl forgotten the instrumental break throughs he has provided us with in critical matches? misbah himself averages best during his captaincy tenure, so why not give m.hafeez a chance?? a change was in order.....and this had to be done sooner or better choice than afridi or the professor......and the professor it was! grow up and let the man do his job......or atleast try!!!
Mr.T May 17, 2012 06:26pm
abay yar phalay khailnay tu do, ay pakistanioooooo, captain bana nahi, agar magar shoro ho gaya hai, or bhai khailnay do us ko fail ho gaya tu , misbah t20 harwaya, world cup harwaya, india say har gaya...
Ubaid May 17, 2012 07:04pm
Who else u think should lead the team or we should play without captain?
Ali567 May 17, 2012 07:55pm
Hafeez is a regular opener in all three formats, something we haven't had in a long time. He is generally well thought of in the team, hasn't been involved in any controversy and has been one of Pakistans most successful club captains with Faisalabad wolves. He also comes across as level headed. Wouldn't he be the obvious choice for captain. I think this is actually a very smart decision by the pcb? Why raise the obvious question about failure or success before the trial. At present it's a valid decision. Pseudo intellectual article that adds little value or opinion and no stAtement whatsoever. Had to write this reply because reading that amateur article wasted 2 minutes of my life I'm never getting back
Saif Ali May 17, 2012 09:46pm
how long we will be experimenting by changing captains?? A decade ago India was afraid of playing Pakistan but today this situation is with Pakistan. They have improved by selecting players on merits.
Hamza May 17, 2012 09:50pm
What if the author's computer screen had bursted while writing this speculative article?
Baba Sidni May 18, 2012 12:40am
Well at least you think forward. What if Hafeez failed? Well Pakistan as a nation is comprised of 180 million people. Give the chance to someone else. I think baba Miandad, who must be now a granddad, would still be willing. Give him a chance, he got a better average, and is experienced too.
khalid May 18, 2012 03:27am
this is nonsense article, why talking so negitive about new captain. be optimistic. don't write these kind of thoughts. we hope that pakistan cricket do good again. i am also very disappointed.
A Gondal May 18, 2012 04:35am
The title should be; "What after Hafeez fails".
naina May 20, 2012 11:48am
m glad for haffez but m scared bcoz misbah is like the quaid of team nd he leds the team best but best of luch haffez i like hafeez very much best wishes..................................
fahad May 21, 2012 07:07pm
that's the prb with pak cricket..when someone new gets selected for the job instead of supporting them they are being criticized..and if they prevail then the same people will praise them...double standard
sharukh May 23, 2012 07:19am
It is time to accept others and continue our effarts as nation. If some one is good we should accept him and not involve ourself in Conspiracyif he is not from our area. I my self strongly belive that we have not accept each other by heart. We should not thing that we are always right and other in wrong direction. May Allah Bless us and show us the rightious direction. Take care you all
LAHORE May 23, 2012 09:06am
Khabeer Ul Tanwir May 25, 2012 03:35pm
When Misbah was appointed the captain, many cricket experts and writers wrote against the decision. There was only one person Jeff Lawson who rated Misbah as the best available cricket brain in Pakistan and today Misbah has silenced all his critics. He averages around 80 in test matches and we lost not a single series in his tenure. Same is the case with Haffez, Hafeez has been a permanent member of the team from more than 2 years and performing well in all 3 formats thus he should be also given chance to prove himself !!! totally biased article !!!
ray Jun 02, 2012 02:45am
writer is on target...he knows pakistan it is indivduals with their own agendas and no team concept.
Gabbar Singh Jun 02, 2012 10:51pm
Haha it's my opionion fellas so don't take personally, M Hafeez is superseded and my vote is with Shahid Afridi or Shoaib Malik Both have experience and .....