Worst-ever performance by a visiting Pakistan team in Australia

Will we continue to hear hollow slogans?By Abdul Mohi ShahISLAMABAD: Down and out with utter humiliation in Down Under suffering innings defeats both the Tests of the just-concluded two-match series has left every Pakistan cricket fan confused as to whether at all our team is capable of delivering in a testing situation or just hollow slogans are all we continue to hear ahead of such important tours.Not an element of a real fighting spirit was witnessed on whole tour. On the contrary it was the worst ever performance seen by the visiting Pakistan team-losing all possible four matches on the heels of whitewash it suffered against Sri Lanka in the T20 series back home. Seven out of seven for Misbahul Haq’s team has made one feel that there is something seriously wrong with execution plans. Either there were loopholes in team selection or there are telling shortcomings in the preparations and implementation plan for such a demanding series.Admitted that Pakistan have never won a Test series in Australia, the best they could have done was to draw level and that too courtesy to some exceptional performances first by Imran Khan in 1976 and then by Sarfraz Nawaz in 1982. But on many occasions they came close to upsetting Australia and the fight they put up in these outings got applause and backing from all around. This time, there was no such thing that could have earned respect for the losing side rather experts like former Australian captain Rickey Ponting called for discouraging such one-sided series. Too meek a performance by an outfit that didn’t lack quality but surely lacked true substance required for such occasions.Playing in Australia, no doubt, has never been easier for the sub-continental teams and even the best of batting line ups have struggled in the past.Even the strongest of the batting line up like India has shown the tendency of caving in on fast bouncy tracks Down Under.Slowly but surely Indian cricket overcame that issue with the right planning and strategy chalked up for such tours. Now India is one team that provides Australia a real resistance whenever they travel to the country. The worst thing about Pakistan cricket is that it always creates hype ahead of the tour and promises so much but when it comes to converting those hollow slogans into practice, they always left all in shock and disbelief.It was no different in the just concluded series. We have heard so much but never have seen anything significant on the field. One major reason that always haunts professional followers of the game is Pakistan cricket system’s inability to groom and nourish players for such demanding occasions. There is absolutely no system at all in the country that can groom a talent into a match winning stuff. National Cricket Academy (NCA) is nothing more thana Kindergarten, teaching only the basics to teenagers. The quality cutting has never been there neither there is any urge to attain that. Look for instance at Indian’s recent surge. Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jaspreet Bumrah, Umesh Yadev and even off spinner R Ashwin had never been a match winners to start with. Over the years, the system, coaches and support staff have made them one. Now any one of these can win a Test match for the team. All these bowlers were never so impressive at the outset of their career. Same is the case with their batting line up. The system and coaches have the ability to sharpen skills of a talent and make him ready for such a big occasion.In Pakistan we keep on banking on the same coaching staff time and again without realizing that he or they have no or little capacity to contribute. The best example is of Waqar Younis. The former bowling great has never been a good and dependable coach. Even when he was head coach he lacked the stuff that could justify his position as a trainer and strategy maker. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) not only hired him again but the board officials were seen hoping against hope in his success that never came and would possibly not come.Mere saying that the four youngsters-Naseem Shah, Shah Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hussain and Musa Khan have great future is not enough. What required from bowling coach is to bring the best out of them and fill in the gaps that are missing in their armory. Sadly there Waqar seems just a silent spectator.One cannot deny Misbah’s contribution for Pakistan cricket but wearing too many hats often de-shapes your look and ability to perform.So much has been said about domestic cricket by the pundits who look at the brighter side of this newly-evolved first class structure, yet they are not ready to give respect to this newly implemented format. We may not see top ten of the batsmen in ongoing first class season getting any opportunity to flex their muscles internationally.Sami Aslam, Imran Butt, Kamran Akmal, Imran Farhat, Ashfaq Ahmad, Faizan Riaz, Zeeshan Malik, Salman Butt and Fawad Alam are some leading performers with bat in the on-going first class cricket. Admitted that a few of these are tried and tested but these still can be a better option from those blown away in Australia.

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