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Evolution instead of Revolution – Pakistan Cricket

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Oleaks sports always bring you with the latest news on all kinds of sports globally. In typical Pakistan Cricket Board style, an early exit from the World Cup saw the face of the national team completely changed. The PCB doesn’t do things by halves and they certainly didn’t do this time.

First to go was Waqar Younis – The Burewala born Pakistani coach, did not seek a contract renewal, he was not offered one and he has not interested himself either and resigned from his post, resulting in former South African coach Mickey Arthur being appointed as the head coach of the national squad.

Shortly after the departure of Waqar Younis, many believe, as a stop-gap captain for a younger man to take the reins in the long term. And when in Feb 2017 when one of the legends of modern era Shahid Afridi renown as “boom boom” of world cricket retired from t20 cricket, a new and young blood captain Sarfaraz Ahmed who also captained Pakistani under 19 cricket team was shown trust and handed over the captaincy of  t20 side.

After the retirement of Misbah ul Haq former Pakistani skipper, he suggested Azhar Ali take over as captain. And soon after he was appointed as ODI and test captain another player potentially being groomed for captaincy was Sarfaraz Ahmed. So he was appointed as vice-captain.

The PCB did not stop there; they promptly dismissed the entire selection committee. Inzamam ul Haq former Pakistani test cricketer and member of the 1992 World cup squad was appointed as the head coach of the national side. Inzamam replaced Haroon Rasheed who failed badly in his tenure, as Pakistani team was not able to go through even from the first rounds of Asia and World cup.

The first job for the legendary batsman was to select the squad for the upcoming England tour and in typical Inzi fashion, he left many eyebrows raised.

Inzamam, after the successful tour of England, opted to leave out several ‘big guns’ for the next series and although some of these players were officially ‘rested’, Inzamam sent a clear message to the Pakistan old guard, that he will not be selecting teams based on personalities nor reputations.  Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Umer Akmal, Kamran Akmal, and Wahab Riaz were a few of those to be axed.

Despite what can only be described as a minor revolution of the national set-up, the same underlying problems exist in Pakistani cricket, which the PCB has failed to address.

First-class cricket in Pakistan is non-existent. For the most part, the games will be played in empty grounds and will attract little or next to no media coverage. Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan, claims that one of the major reasons for the lack of interest is that the teams do not represent cities or towns – something the local fans could relate to, but instead represent national corporations like Pakistan International Airlines and Habib Bank.

Not surprisingly first-class teams in Pakistan have not yielded many international players.

Players are more often not spotted playing for schools and local clubs and brought straight into the National squad. This thing also has happened in the past; Waqar Younis, Shahid Afridi, and Wasim Akram are a few of the players who barely played first-class cricket and became full internationals.

Without a long-term structure in place to develop the game at a domestic level, Pakistan will have to continue relying on ‘talent-spotting’ at schools and at local club competitions – a very ‘hit and miss’ strategy.

Greater investment at the grassroots level (i.e. youth academies, first-class teams and first-class coaches) may not reap rewards initially, but it will ensure that future players are given the best possible environment in which to nurture their talents.

But the good news is that with the establishment of PSL many young guns and raw talents have been discovered which includes the current number 1 bowler of the world Hasan Ali and one of the best young allrounder globally right now Shadab Khan. Other players include Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali, and Sharjeel Khan…

In the last decade, this is the only positive thing happen to Pakistani cricket.

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