Time to infuse new blood in Cricket team

After capitulation of Pakistan cricket team in 2003 and 2007 world cups played in South Africa & West Indies, Pakistan did well to qualify for semi final of 2011 with ease. Team was looking in good touch but unfortunately in semi final they met their nemesis India. Pakistan failed to beat India In any previous world cup encounter and 2011 was no different when after a hard fought encounter India prevailed over Pakistan

After that Semi Final, it was expected that some major changes will be made in team’s composition as majority of senior players who have past their prime will retire voluntarily. Board was also expected to take steps to replace old warriors with new players. Sadly it did not happen. PCB bosses fearing defeat were unable to drop seniors. At the moment reliance on seniors also proving futile as teams performance continued to go downwards.

Pakistan among international fraternity was popular for carrying a young team but current team with average age of 30 plus is the oldest team to represent Pakistan in its history.

After 2011 world cup Pakistan team played most of its one day matches in favorable conditions but even in these conditions team lost more and won less.

Most of the cricket playing nations already infused fresh blood in their teams and are now well and truly on the path of rebuilding team for future.

Following the example of other cricket boards, Pakistan cricket Board (PCB) should also come out of its deep slumber and act now. With less than two years left for the 2015 world cup to be played in Australia, regarded as a difficult destination for Asian teams, I think board should start searching for appropriate replacements of seniors’ immediately

Pakistan’s opening pair which seemed settled in earlier part of year now seems disturbed as weaknesses of both batsmen Mohammad Hafeez & Nasir Jamshed exposed against quality bowling during recent South African tour . Team’s Middle order is the major area of concern. Younas Khan and Misbah Ul Haq served country well in past are now struggling. Age catching up these stalwarts and even their presence unable to prevent team from defeats in recent encounters, I think they should be replaced soon with more youthful player. Shaoib Malik is another player about whom selectors and management need to decide. He is part of team since 1999 but barring a few years, he always struggled to make the playing line up. Time now to say good bye to a player who after such long association still not a permanent playing member

Wicket keeping department also required rethinking. Those cricket playing teams who use different wicketkeepers for different formats have a strategy according to which they select experienced keeper in test matches and young wicketkeeper in one day. In Pakistan we do reverse and select aged wicketkeeper for one day internationals and younger keeper for test matches. Kamran Akmal after remaining in wilderness for nearly two years was brought back in team once again during the recently held series against India. Since his return, his performance with gloves looked patchy and his batting form is also dicey.      

After the recently concluded tour of South Africa,next assignment will be the Champions trophy tournament to be played in England. I think board should take brave decision and participate in Champions trophy with a youthful team. Players like Hammad Azam, Anwar Ali and few others who were dropped without providing enough chance to prove their mettle should be recalled

It will not be easy to find replacement for ageing seniors but PCB have to start the search and in my view this is the right time to act. PCB should form a pool of 10-15 young players based on the performance in various domestic one day championship and start their grooming.

PCB entered into an agreement with Wasim Akram to search bowlers. I strongly suggest them to use a similar strategy to unearth hidden batting challenge. Bowlers have somehow cropped up from our system but it is the dearth of quality batsman that is hampering team’s progress. I hope PCB utilize services of Javed Miandad and few others to throw up few quality batsmen for the national team

To prepare team for next world cup, Pakistan’s selectors must identify problems immediately and try to fix them quickly by taking bold decisions. 

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