cricket
'Karachi-less' tour
better than no tour at all
Even one bloody incident will be enough to send the Aussies scurrying back to their initial stance of cancelling the tour for good
By Imran Farooqi
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has at last succeeded in making some headway regarding the much-awaited and proposed visit by Australia. The recently-held meeting in Kuala Lumpur -- which one fervently hopes was perhaps the last of the series of discussions that have taken place of late on the issue in various parts of the world -- has offered a tiny hope that the Australians might undertake the tour after all, setting aside their reservations that are mainly based on information provided by the foreign missions in Islamabad.

Is T20 cricket getting too hot to handle?
Australia batsman Michael Clarke and bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark have all put their priorities above IPL. They feel playing for Australia is of more importance than making money in India
By Muhammad Shahbaz Zahid
The Twenty20 form of the game has been on the rise since its inception years back in England. The home of cricket launched this exciting new format and its popularity sky-rocketed from the word go.

Is the Australian tour of Pakistan finally on?
I don't think I would go, I just dread to think what would happen if someone got hurt, let alone killed. It's just a situation you'd never want to find yourself in: Andrew Symonds
By Khurram Mahmood
Finally some ice has broken and Cricket Australia (CA) appear to have agreed to send their security team to Pakistan to check arrangements for the security of the touring Australian team at the stadiums here, the hotels and the travelling distance between the hotels and the playing arenas.

cricket
Pakistan cricket: The aesthetic fallacy
What we should suggest, although no one will ever ask us, is to propose that when the going gets tough, the tough should run for cover and when the cookie crumbles it is not wise to stick around and hope for a few crumbs
By Dr Nauman Niaz
They are just sticking it in -- now another controversy riveting and equally painful sees us through Pakistan cricket's sleazy scene. Allegedly and regrettably, the PCB, as usual without doing their spadework got Australia's tour to Pakistan insured. Now, in case if Australia defaults and stays back, the top heavy PCB would still be picking up the expenses, likely to give a heavy premium, close to couple of million US dollars to the insurance company.

A look at Pakistan's One-day International world records
Pakistan's two giant Ws enjoyed great monopoly in world records relating to the bowling department. The feats of most ODI wickets in a career and on a single ground belongs to the great Wasim Akram
By Ghalib Mehmood Bajwa
The recent Pakistan-Zimbabwe ODI series concluded with highly lop-sided results in favour of the home team. Pakistan won the five-match rubber quite convincingly without any degree of resistance from the visitors.

 

 

 

cricket
'Karachi-less' tour
better than no tour at all

By Imran Farooqi

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has at last succeeded in making some headway regarding the much-awaited and proposed visit by Australia. The recently-held meeting in Kuala Lumpur -- which one fervently hopes was perhaps the last of the series of discussions that have taken place of late on the issue in various parts of the world -- has offered a tiny hope that the Australians might undertake the tour after all, setting aside their reservations that are mainly based on information provided by the foreign missions in Islamabad.

These agencies tend to blow things out of proportions and normally portray a very bleak of picture Pakistan in Western countries, specially in the US and Europe.

The relatively peaceful general elections must have added a lot of weight to Pakistan's contention that the country is safe for a cricket tour. However, Australia's reluctance to play in Karachi in particular and in Pakistan in general is really unfortunate. As per the original itinerary Ricky Ponting's men are scheduled to play one Test and two limited-over games in the southern metropolis.

The trip will materialise only if Pakistan are able to remove Australia's concern over the security arrangements being made for the home series -- the first in a decade.

Being the biggest and most populous city of the country Karachi certainly deserves to play host to the world's best Test and one-day outfit. And even from security's point of view this mega city is as unsafe as any other part of the world in general and South-East Asia in particular. Bomb blasts and suicide attacks have become a routine thing in several Asian states, but it is only Pakistan that suffers most in such cases.

In the past also teams from different countries have refused to play in Karachi citing security fears, and the PCB had to agree to their 'request-like' threats to save the series from turning into a non-event.

Although a 'Karachi-less' tour is always better than a no tour at all, the PCB bosses must put to use all their resources and sources in the ICC and the BCCI and do all they can to convince the Aussies to stick to the original itinerary and play in Karachi -- a prime venue of the country that has been neglected regularly in past for no reasons whatsoever.

Cricket Australia must be approaching this trip very cautiously and will be monitoring the post-election situation in the country with a great deal of care and anxiety before they reach a conclusion about going ahead with their sub-continental assignment. Credit is certainly due to the PCB officials for working tirelessly to get the series back on the track despite knowing that all their efforts may go down the drain in case of any mishap. Even one bloody incident will be enough to send the Aussies scurrying back to their initial stance of cancelling the tour for good.

However, the concerns expressed by some of the Australian players, specially all-rounder Andrew Symonds, does give an indication that even if all remains well in Pakistan in the aftermath of the elections the tour may still be called off.Symonds has already made it clear that in all probability he's not going to come to Pakistan, and has hinted that some other players, too, might opt out of the tour owing to the 'risk' associated with touring an unstable place like Pakistan.

However, if the Aussies do decide to make the trip, most of their senior pros might pull out, leaving Pakistan locking horns with a second-string Australian side. From the PCB's point of view it would not be a very pleasant state of affairs.

On their part Pakistan would never fancy being caught in a situation where their players take rest perforce. The Future Tours Programme makes it mandatory for all teams to fulfill their commitments. In case Australia opt out of the tour they will have to pay a fine to the PCB to compensate for the losses it would suffer because of the tour cancellation.

But if the Australian government intervenes and does not allow its team to board the Pakistan-bound plane for safety reasons, the ICC won't be able to push Cricket Australia to pay the penalty. And though the Pak-Australia rubber in insured, the loss Pakistan will have to deal with in terms of cricket will be immense.

In contrast most of the Australian players, should they cancel the tour, will get some well-deserved rest before trying their luck in the Indian Premier League which is scheduled to get underway from April 18. They are currently involved in a taxing tri-series with India and Sri Lanka, and will be looking forward to some rest before they travel to India for the IPL's inaugural Twenty20 edition.

There is hardly any doubt the cancellation of the tour will serve as a welcome break for them as most of the current and former Aussie stars will be seen in action in the 44-day multi-million dollar event. A Pakistan tour will then mean a shortened trip to India for some of those players. And that would not be an ideal situation from the organisers' point of view, who would like to launch the IPL in style and with all the might they can muster.

With so much money at stake the Indians would never like to see below-strength teams contesting the showpiece event. The BCCI -- under whose patronage the event is going to be held -- may, in all probability, not be willing to support the PCB on this very issue. The series in Pakistan will certainly take some shine off the Twenty20 event, and this could be the last thing the BCCI would like to see happening.





Is T20 cricket getting too hot to handle?

The Twenty20 form of the game has been on the rise since its inception years back in England. The home of cricket launched this exciting new format and its popularity sky-rocketed from the word go.

After that, other nations adapted the version for their domestic structure. South Africa were the one who promoted T20 cricket up to a new level. Their Pro20 league was a major hit and attracted huge audience.

More countries followed the same route and Pakistan, one of the leading cricketing powerhouses, also successfully hosted domestic T20 competitions. That tournament certainly paved the way for local youngsters to showcase their worth and revealed talented players for future for this cricket-loving country.

The highlight came when the inaugural World Twenty20 event was staged in South Africa last year. The tournament turned out to be the biggest blockbuster of the year and presented a showcase final match between arch-rivals Pakistan and India -- a fairytale ending to any tournament one can hope for.

And things have never been the same since then. Now, on a regular basis, T20 matches are the highlight of tour schedules between all Test-playing nations. That certainly helps the organisers to attract more crowds towards stadiums and generate funds.

But not everything generated from this T20 phenomenon has been positive.

Though cricket has been promoted because of its fast-growing recognition, a war has erupted between financial supremos in the world of cricket.

This war relates to the fact that who can attract more star power towards their respective leagues. It's about who can pay the players more. And it's about who can promote the game better amongst other things.

The scenario was created when an Indian TV company, one of the leading broadcasters in the country, was impressed by the success of T20 cricket. Having all the financial backup, sponsors and broadcasting rights in their kitty, they decided to launch their own T20 league.

That league was named the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and it created a major stir in the cricketing world. People said this was a big opportunity for the players -- both international and local -- to showcase their talent in front of the whole world.

But nobody knew that the idea of staging this tournament could explode into an ever-lasting debate.

The problem that rose was about the tournament's recognition. The ICL wasn't approved by the richest sporting body in the world -- Board of Control for Cricket in India -- and that angered the BCCI in the first place.

Everyone knows that the BCCI likes to do things its own way. They knew that ICL could be a threat to their supremacy in India and they immediately started to oppose the league terming it as 'the rebel league'.

But that didn't affect the ICL organisers' morale. They continued working on their project and stood tall against opposition.

Things took a new twist when BCCI issued statements that they would ban players from representing India or local domestic teams in future if they opt to play for ICL.

Then, BCCI teamed up with other cricketing boards to back them on this issue and were successful immediately. The ICL, which wasn't recognised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) either, was in tatters at that moment.

But they didn't stop here and finally did manage to stage the tournament. The event saw former and present players taking part in the tourney from all over the world. Local players from the Indian domestic structure also took part in a large number.

The tournament, though, wasn't much of a success as it didn't have the backup from ICC and national cricketing boards. It was telecasted on a single TV channel only and as the organisers didn't have authority to stage the matches on different grounds (BCCI had banned them from doing so), they had to hold the entire ties at a single stadium.

The end result saw many players getting life bans from their respective boards. They are now ineligible to play in national colours or even in domestic leagues. The ICL, one can say, put brakes on their careers.

As the BCCI had started to counter the staging of ICL, they had to show something and prove their worth that they were a force to be reckoned with. This they did by announcing their own T20 league -- known as the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The IPL, these days, has been making all the headlines in the cricketing world. Born to oppose and knock down the ICL in the first place, this official T20 league has the backing of all national cricket boards plus the ICC.

To cap that, it also ensures safety for the players. Cricketers participating in this tournament -- local or international -- won't be barred from representing their national teams or their respective domestic outfits.

The most delicious part of the tournament's recipe comes when players' salaries are brought into the equation.

The IPL, which has eight franchises, recently held a players' bid ceremony. The players were to be purchased by the franchises after calling up suitable bids for them. The franchise making the highest bid for a particular player then got him to play for them. The team will pay the winning bid to the player annually.

The IPL, one feels, will be a major breakthrough in the world of cricket. It guarantees to blow away the ICL fever and seems sure to attract more big names. Though ICL had enrolled a few big stars themselves too, the restrictions implemented on them and its players seem too much to handle for them.

The inaugural 44-day IPL will get underway on April 18. It will be broadcasted on more than one channel unlike ICL. IPL will attract more sponsors, more facilities will be provided to the players and more stadiums will get the chance to host its matches -- everything ICL was unable to do.

One of the most interesting prospects ahead will be of the Champions League. The proposed league will be played on the format of football's Champions Leagues in Europe and Asia which see top football clubs from different countries compete against each other for the coveted prize.

Likewise, domestic T20 champions from Test playing nations will compete against each other in cricket's Champions League. That will prove to be another crowd-favourite event if all goes well.

But there's something which can be a disrupting factor in the future for the ICC as well as for national boards. As IPL is a cash-rich tournament, it has attracted almost all the top players in the world. And when it comes to money-making antics, one feels that commitment towards the country is put on the line.

For example, Andrew Symonds, the Australian all-rounder, who was the second most expensive player in the IPL bidding process last week, said that he won't be touring Pakistan along with this team. (Australia's tour to Pakistan coincides with the dates of IPL).

Why? Symonds says that Pakistan's political crisis has made him take this decision. But there is nothing to worry about on this issue these days. Australia, who were thinking of pulling off from their tour because of the same reason, have now finally decided go on with it.

Pakistan saw successful elections being held last week and it surely must have erased all the concerns from Aussies' minds. Our nation has proved that it's a safe place for anyone to visit and touring parties won't have any problems here.

When Cricket Australia is ready to change its mind, why not Symonds? That's where the commitment comes into play.

Australia batsman Michael Clarke and bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark have all put their priorities above IPL. They feel playing for Australia is of more importance than making money in India. Then why is Symonds against it?

The only thing that comes to mind is the fact that he (Symonds) would like to play in the IPL and make good cash. If it wasn't for that, he surely would have said "yes, I will go to Pakistan and playing for IPL isn't a priority for me."

The second issue of concern is that of tour schedules and IPL dates. The ICC has confirmed that they won't put IPL into its calendar. And that would create a lost of hassle.

Players participating in the IPL would now feel that if their team's matches are scheduled at the same time as of IPL's, they will be in trouble. They won't be able to decide whom to play for.

Players' burn-out and fatigue factor will be amongst other things of great concern. The international cricket calendar of almost all the teams is packed up and with a lot of cricket to be played over the year, as FTP lays out, players' injuries and burn-out are likely to happen on a regular basis. That would hamper their own future and their teams' progress would also be affected.

These are some issues the cricketing masterminds and all the concerned boards have to look after. Though the popularity of cricket is on a rise and its progression is faster than ever, one has to make sure that T20 phenomenon doesn't get too hot to handle.

 

The writer is a staff member at

'The News' Karachi

[email protected]



Is the Australian tour of Pakistan finally on?

Finally some ice has broken and Cricket Australia (CA) appear to have agreed to send their security team to Pakistan to check arrangements for the security of the touring Australian team at the stadiums here, the hotels and the travelling distance between the hotels and the playing arenas.

This was decided between the Pakistan and Australian cricket boards in an ICC meeting in Kuala Lumpur last week.

Earlier, the board and the Australian government clearly refused to send their cricket team, even their security team to Pakistan due to the uncertain law and order situation here and suicide attacks in different parts of the country.

If the security team members are satisfied with the safety measures undertaken by the PCB and the government then the Aussies will travel to Pakistan but the duration of their stay will now be 30 days instead of 48 days.

But according to reports if the tour does go ahead, the Australian team will not play in Karachi, especially the Test match. They are interested to play in Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad instead. If this happens it will be an injustice for the Karachiites. For quite sometime Karachi has actually been a safer place than any other part of the country.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) trying its best to save the series and although they are insured to avoid the financial loss, the home spectators will lose an interesting contest with the world champion after a long time.

The management is also trying to make alternate arrangements if Australia finally refuses to tour Pakistan. Sri Lanka and India are the possible substitutes for the home series.

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds ahs shown his reservations about the tour of Pakistan and he has almost refused to visit Pakistan with the words "I don't think I would go, I just dread to think what would happen if someone got hurt, let alone killed. It's just a situation you'd never want to find yourself in."

He said that a few other players were also thinking about boycotting the tour and if they did only a second-string side might visit Pakistan.

The upcoming Pakistan-Australia series has failed to generate the amount of interest it has always promised before. The fight between the two sides always produces sparkling results, and is eagerly looked forward to by all cricket fans irrespective of their nationality.

Pakistan, once rated one of the best cricket playing nations in both types of cricket, are now struggling to get enough Test matches these days, specially home series. Making an issue of the law and order situation in the region, big teams have avoided to visit Pakistan especially Australia. The home side has been sitting and waiting for B Grade teams to come and play Test series.

Owing to the uncertain security situation in Pakistan, the Australians had refused to fulfil their commitment of touring Pakistan around six years ago in 2002 and a three-Test series was played in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Sharjah where Pakistan lost the rubber by 0-3.

In 2003, South Africa were to come to Pakistan for a 35-day tour in September for three Tests and three One-day Internationals. But the South African Board (UCBSA) formally requested that they didn't want to play in Karachi and Peshawar due to security reasons. A security team had visited Pakistan, and after checking the security measures they expressed their satisfaction over the arrangements made by Pakistani police and the delegation cleared Karachi and Peshawar as safe cities to play.

Pakistan had agreed to provide top-level security to the South African team. The visiting side was to be escorted by the Rangers, while paramilitary soldiers were also to be deployed at the hotel and stadium. The Pakistan team made their feelings clear over South Africa's last-minute tour cancellation by wearing black armbands in their fifth and final One-day International against Bangladesh at Karachi.

After getting clearance from their delegation finally South Africa agreed to play in both cities. But just less than 24 hours before their arrival after a bomb blast in Karachi South Africa pulled out of the tour. The South African management offered to the PCB to play their series in South Africa or at a neutral venue. But the Pakistan Board strongly refused to play anywhere else except in Pakistan.

After the 9/11 in 2001 attack, every major team avoided to visit Pakistan. New Zealand left the tour midway through a tour last year after a bomb exploded outside their hotel in Karachi. After the bomb blast Bangladesh played the fifth One-day International at Karachi. The ICC match refree of the Pak-Bangladesh series Mike Procter from South Africa also didn't have any problems regarding the security.

On the other hand two Pakistani players -- Saqlain Mushtaq and Mohammad Akram -- were mugged near their hotel in Sandton on the South African tour in 1998. Saqlain and Akram were crossing the road outside the hotel to eat at a local Indian restaurant, when a car drew up. Two men jumped out and demanded money. As a result of this incident Saqlain needed a neck brace, while Akram was left nursing a severe gash on his bowling hand.

Rashid Latif, then Pakistan captain on that series was in doubt to continue the tour, as it was a major issue. But Dr Ali Bacher, then Managing Director UCBSA, offered his regrets about the incident and gave the tourists assurance that security for the players would be stepped up. For the sake of cricket and good relations the Pakistan cricket team agreed to continue the tour.

So, after a direct attack on their players, if Pakistan could continue their tour, Australia don't have any excuse to pull out of the tour due to security reasons. On Pakistan soil never have any players directly affected by any mishap like the Pakistani players faced in South Africa. South Africa and Zimbabwe recently completed their tour without any fear and they played without any disturbance, they are also human beings and their lives are also important for their families and the country.

After the general elections we hope that the law and order situation has improved and the Australian security team members will be satisfied with the safety arrangements to be made by the PCB and the world champions Australia must tour Pakistan with their full strength so that the home spectators enjoy the series between the two countries after a long time.

 

The writer works in the art department of 'The News on Sunday' in Karachi, [email protected]

 
cricket
Pakistan cricket: The aesthetic fallacy

They are just sticking it in -- now another controversy riveting and equally painful sees us through Pakistan cricket's sleazy scene. Allegedly and regrettably, the PCB, as usual without doing their spadework got Australia's tour to Pakistan insured. Now, in case if Australia defaults and stays back, the top heavy PCB would still be picking up the expenses, likely to give a heavy premium, close to couple of million US dollars to the insurance company.

The PCB is completely directionless, not the people running it. They have direction ending up to their own prosperity. It looks Pakistan Cricket Board's future organisation would have serious concerns regarding its operations.

Irony with most in the management of the PCB is that, in a sequence, has seen themselves as cricket saviours and spouted forth great words of wisdom to a point where they could speak on all subjects with the same aplomb. Cardboard figures but full of so much hot air, it's a miracle they were not constantly getting airborne. As for cricket -- which some demand should be given a burial -- we have been subjected to a handful of dramas that have all the makings of a soap opera, except that a national game, a national cricket board, a national team and dreams of 175 million people are at stake.

With Dr Nasim Ashraf coming in, PCB had a huge opportunity to do the right things, by the book yet it chose to churn out misinformation and times there were blatant daylight lying.

The PCB hasn't been able to discover two half-decent openers and a couple of quality spinners but is ready to wallow in and install a biomechanics lab. The contract is to be given to 'Techno World' for a tender worth 354,052. It's not a big sum when it comes to establishing state of the art facility, nevertheless instead of experts being taken to Australia PCB sent its COO, Mudassar Nazar and Ali Zia from the National Cricket Academy -- none amongst them, one is sure is well-versed with the science of human biomechanics and kinesiology.

There is already a biomechanics lab in Lahore, at the Punjab University reportedly headed by a highly qualified man, a doctor in philosophy in sports sciences from USA. Why couldn't the PCB collaborate with university's sports science department instead of exhausting almost half a million pound sterling? Was it about being sneaky, eccentric or the PCB has plenty to waste? It seems there is lot of money available to a top heavy PCB to take dim-witted decisions.

The PCB has plenty -- its total financial strength as per 31st January 2008 was Rs 2,485,574,390 -- which also includes from foreign investments. 23% of this huge chunk is with Bank of Alfalah, 15% with the Punjab Bank and 8% with the Habib Metropolitan Bank.

Rs 566,050,170 are stacked with Bank of Alfalah, Rs 377,556,160 with the Punjab Bank and Rs 200,694,462 with the Habib Metropolitan Bank. PCB is a lucrative place. With such a financial strength one must not go bonkers to note that PCB Chairman, often handpicked attends to a completely 'Honorary' job, selfless too.

The Board's chairman is entitled to Rs 100,000 per month accommodation allowance, Rs 5,000 per day duty allowance (DA), business entertainment expenses without limit, Rs 40,000 utilities allowance, four domestic servants, executive class travels and 450 per day DA on foreign trips.

The wheels, if at all slow down, start to spin full speed again, aided and abetted by the very people who are supposedly there to protect the game from ruthless marauders. Where could you go except into an unyielding wall? In Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, not more than half an hour or one at the most from the corrupted atmosphere of history, equally fierce and relentless razing of scruples had been in full swing.

In most cases, where there are self-serving policies being put to work, there are also the new pillars of cricket development. Their 'brought up' as the popular phrase goes, may not be Kosher but they have tons of easy money, obscene amounts of it and luckily for them, here every man has his price.

There was a news item recently about the firm that helped the PCB brilliantly organising Zimbabwe's tour to Pakistan. In this account it was mentioned that the security company had made immaculate arrangements including provision of jammers, gates etcetera. And in this regard, the PCB like a fanciful 'corporate' organisation also decided to reward its employees.

The PCB is seriously considering expunging their contract with the previous company and sign a new, more mutually 'beneficial' deal with a 'favourite' enterprise. 'Beneficial' and 'favourite' are the two major pillars of the current PCB, just add the word 'self'.

As conveyed, Director HR, Senior GM International Cricket, GM Administration and GM Infrastructure were given two bonuses (double of the basic salary, as reported) and rest of the lot picked 50% of their gross pay. Allegedly, Director HR's name was not initially amongst the beneficiaries but Chairman PCB exercised his powers to include him on the list for a job well done.

The Pakistan Military Academy and Multan's 'famed' director of the PCB has been rewarded presumably for his attempt to give the Chairman PCB foolproof security cover and beautiful gifts through his friends. It seems too smooth, two fanciful and a brilliant ride to prosperity. In one of the English dailies, however Director Marketing and Communications of the PCB expressed complete ignorance. Bonuses or not, Chairman PCB's favourites are having a bonanza, so it looks.

Intikhab Alam, one of PCB's Board of Governors members a delightful cricketer of his times -- he deserves special attention, not only because of the reverence accorded to his bowling and leadership, but because his use of approach and distinct overtones. On January 25th, 2008 PCB's Board of Governors met at Karachi. Intikhab, as expected was forthright and clear-headed whilst narrating the reasons behind Pakistan's unwanted performance in India.

Reportedly, he thought, it was a result of 'weak management', 'lack of unity', 'lack of decision making' and 'poor leadership'. In his view, as alleged, 'Shoaib Malik has very little leadership qualities' and 'Mohammad Yousuf played very selfish cricket'.

Intikhab has mostly been insightful but he must know the doping scandal didn't do it, horrendous loss to Ireland in the World Cup didn't do it, Younis Khan's refusal to captain Pakistan didn't do it, neither did Shoaib Akhtar's disciplining by the PCB or on a lesser scale defection of Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar to the ICL and the ominous impractical policies does not do it either.

As we plunge from one crisis into another, as one hard hitting decision that takes hundreds of people by surprise rolls into another, we watch quietly, with dead expressions. There is indifference and a strong inner belief that nothing can change and the last thing that will happen is when incapable people are empowered to make the changes.

There is a frightening river of frustration and anger that is flowing in every Pakistani who has not benefited from a system where the power brokers, mostly the directors in the PCB  have become disturbingly more powerful evident from the fact that despite evidences of their moral and other slip ups they have been rewarded with bonuses for organisation of an insignificant -- the galloping disparity -- rewards for non-players and admonishment for people like Shoaib Akhtar, still the country's fastest bowler.

Such decisions are causing the chasm to widen. The anger now comes pouring at the smallest provocation. The sense of alienation has completely trapped the fringe players and their careers, constantly under threat, both from within and without.

No one questions incapability and failure of the management. Ramming it further, the top full PCB required thirteen journalists (including the tickets and US$1050 per person as reported) to travel to Malaysia to cover the Under-19 World Cup. It is just as acceptable as bad traffic or street garbage.

In case of players and their management, people are put through tedious, outdated and largely useless laws and regulations that they have to follow with a forest of signatures on the smallest of tasks (as reported, Shoaib needing to sign up the retainer with the PCB to get contracted with the IPL), yet the privileged ones such as Mohammad Yousuf and Mohammad Asif or a Shoaib Malik don't even have to take out a pen. But this too is accepted without question.  It has been a case of completely failed management. It's time Dr Nasim leaves cricket for someone else to come and do the talking -- accepting failures may well mean redemption.

What we should suggest, although no one will ever ask us, is to propose that when the going gets tough, the tough should run for cover and when the cookie crumbles it is not wise to stick around and hope for a few crumbs. And when nasty things start flying, there is little point in hanging around and getting plastered.

At least all of this holds good for Pakistan's present cricket landscape where disillusion has a deathlike stranglehold over the minds of men and where hopelessness and nepotism is an industry even the best entrepreneurs cannot sell for a song or a ditty or even a crappy jingle.


A look at Pakistan's One-day International world records

The recent Pakistan-Zimbabwe ODI series concluded with highly lop-sided results in favour of the home team. Pakistan won the five-match rubber quite convincingly without any degree of resistance from the visitors.

However, the ODI series would be remembered for a couple of rare world records. Pakistan broke two and equalled one world record during the ODI series. However, in just a few days' time, India and Sri Lankan all-rounder Sanath Jayasuriya snatched two distinctions away from Pakistan.

In the first game of the series at Karachi, a total of eight half-centuries including five by Pakistan, were scored which was a unique distinction. In the third ODI at Multan, all-rounder Shahid Afridi settled the score with Sri Lankan great Jayasuriya in the race of ODI sixes during his knock of 85 in which he hammered six sixes.

Later in the fourth ODI at Faisalabad, Pakistan became a team with most ODI caps. At the end of series at Sheikhupura, Pakistan's tally of ODIs had reached 674.

Pakistan's run of world records began in the first one-dayer at Karachi when five home batsmen Nasir Jamshed (61), Younis Khan (79), Mohammad Yousuf (72), Shoaib Malik (63) and Misbah-ul-Haq (55 not out) -- struck half-centuries. It is pertinent to mention here that there have been 27 instances of four fifties in an innings in the past, nine of them in 2007 alone.

In reply to Pakistan's big total, three Zimbabwe batsmen -- Vusi Sibanda (59), Chamu Chibhabha (52) and Sean Williams (51 not out) also contributed 50 plus scores that made it eight fifties in the match.

The eight scores of 50 or more at Karachi was indeed a new ODI record. The previous record of seven had happened three times -- and interestingly all in the 2005-06 season. The matches between Pakistan and England at Lahore, South Africa and Australia at Johannesburg and India and England's game at Indore -- all produced seven 50-plus scores each.

Pakistan grabbed the most ODI caps world record for a short period. The green flag-bearers won the honour at Faisalabad and finished the series at Sheikhupura on February 2 as the leading team with 674 ODI games.

Interestingly, India, Australia and Sri Lanka launched the three-nation Commonwealth Bank (CB) Series the very next day on February 3 and after playing three games in the CB Series, India regained the world record on February 10 at Melbourne. Australia, with 674 games, is also in the hunt of the said mark.

It means, the said record may turn into a shuttlecock in the future among three teams -- Pakistan, Australia and India, who as per February 20 2008, had 674, 674 and 678 ODI games respectively.

Former Sri Lankan captain Jayasuriya regained the most sixes world record at Canberra during his knock of 27 against India. However, Afridi, who is enjoying a clear edge over veteran Jayasuriya both age wise and sixes strike rate, would hopefully recapture this particular distinction in the next couple of ODIs and that too for a long time.

On the other hand, 38-year old Sanath, who has been dropped for upcoming Windies tour, is certain to say goodbye to international cricket in the near future. It is pertinent to mention here that Afridi has struck his 245 sixes in just 253 games while Jayasuriya consumed far more matches (408) for his 247 sixes. It means Afridi has been enjoying far better ratio than the Sri Lankan.

 

Here is a glance at Pakistan's dozens of ODI world records:

* Former Pakistan skipper Javed Miandad had a couple of interesting and almost unbreakable feats to his credit. His record of fifties in nine consecutive innings is still intact for the last 21 years. No batsman could go past six fifties in successive outings.

* Similarly, Miandad has two more unique distinctions of six World Cup appearances and the longest ODI career of 20 years and 272 days from 11 June 1975 to 9 March 1996. The next longest ODI career is 18 years, 352 days played by Aravinda de Silva.

It is interesting to note here that Miandad is probably the only player in ODI history, who began and wrapped up his ODI career with a World Cup game. Remember, the match against West Indies at Birmingham in the inaugural 1975 World Cup was Miandad's maiden ODI while the quarterfinal against India at Bangalore in 1996 World Cup was his final ODI appearance.

* Asian Bradman Zaheer Abbas, who was the first player to hit three ODI centuries in consecutive innings, was the fastest batsman to reach 2000 ODI runs. He grabbed this distinction in his 45th game in 1983.

* Pakistan had an equal share when it comes to most hundreds in an ODI. It was some ten years ago when Pakistan and Australia struck four centuries (two each) at Lahore in 1998-99. To date, the Lahore ODI remained the only game out of 2681 limited overs matches when four centuries were scored in an ODI.

* Pakistan's two giant Ws enjoyed great monopoly in world records relating to bowling department. The feats of most ODI wickets in a career and on a single ground belonged to great Wasim Akram. He topped both the tables with 502 and 122 wickets (at Sharjah Stadium). Waqar has 114 scalps at the same ground. Wasim also has most four-wicket hauls (17).

* Waqar registered best figures in an innings by a captain when he grabbed 7-36 against England at Leeds in 2001. The unwanted record for best figures when on the losing side goes to Imran Khan, who took 6-14 against India at Sharjah in 1985.

* Waqar had some other incomparable feats to his credit. He has most six-wicket (5) and five-wicket (13) hauls during his illustrious career. Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, who has 455 wickets and 13 four-wicket hauls and is still playing, can catch Wasim Akram in race of career wickets and four-wicket hauls.

* In 1990, Waqar captured three five-wicket hauls (5-11 v NZ at Peshawar, 5-16 v NZ at Sialkot and 5-52 v WI at Karachi) in successive matches which was a peculiar incident in ODI history.

* The Burewala-born toe-crusher took four or more wickets in three successive matches on three different occasions -- (4-42 v Ind, 6-26 v SL and 5-20 v NZ in 1990), (5-11 v NZ, 5-16 v NZ and 5-52 v WI in 1990) and (4-32 v NZ, 4-52 v SA and 4-33 v NZ in 1994) which is also an unmatched feat.

* The record of the youngest bowler to take five wickets in an innings rests with Wasim Akram, who at the age of 18 years and 266 days took 5-21 against Australia at Melbourne in 1985.

* Wasim also bowled more balls than any other bowler in a career. He is far ahead with 18,186 balls than the next bowler Muralitharan, who has bowled so far 16,364 deliveries till the filing of this research-based write-up.

* The left-arm reverse swing master again tops the table when it comes to most runs conceded in career. Wasim gave away 11,812 runs, a little bit more than Jayasuriya's 11,168.

* Pakistani bowlers have as many as eight hat-tricks in ODIs out of 24. Australia and Sri Lanka are jointly placed second with three hat-tricks each.

* Pakistan's Waqar Younis dismissed Sanath Jayasuriya 13 times and Wasim Akram did the same with Desmond Haynes 12 times which is also considered a feat in ODI arena.

* If we do some research in ODI bowling history relating to mode of dismissals, we'll find that the two Ws put Pakistan on top in another table. Legendary Wasim cleaned up 176 batsmen during his career which was most by a bowler. Wasim is followed by Waqar, who uprooted 151 batsmen.

* Wasim also took most wickets (93) caught by a wicketkeeper and through LBW decision (92) followed by Waqar Younis, who won LBW decision against 73 batsmen.

* Troubled pacer Shoaib Akhtar also performed a world record for Pakistan when he hit 43 runs while batting at number 11 against England at Cape Town in 2003. Makhaya Ntini remains second with an unbeaten 42.

* The world record for most runs on a single ground belonged to burly Inzamam-ul-Haq, who gathered 2,464 runs at 50.28 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

* The distinction of most runs in a career without a hundred goes to former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram, who scored 3,717 runs in his 18-year career with a highest score of 86. Wasim's former teammate Moin Khan is at number two with 3,266 runs. His highest score was 72 not out.

* It won't be wrong if we call all-rounder Shahid Afridi as the master of strike rates. He grabbed the top place when it comes to highest career strike rate. Afridi scored his 5,369 runs at a strike rate of 110.95. So far he has faced just 4839 balls for his runs.

* Afridi also topped the list of highest strike rate holders in an innings. He scored his unbeaten 55 runs off just 18 balls with a massive strike rate of 305.55 against Netherlands at Colombo (SSC) in 2002.

* The list of youngest players to score a hundred in an ODI is again led by Afridi, who struck his maiden ton (102) at the age of 16 years and 217 days against Sri Lanka at Nairobi (Gym) in 1996. Interestingly, the next two youngest century makers -- Imran Nazir (18 years 121 days) and Saleem Elahi (18 years 312 days) -- also hailed from Pakistan.

* The honour of most sixes in an innings is shared by Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and ST Jayasuriya, who both hit 11 sixes each in an innings but the Pakistan master blaster deserves to be the owner of this world record on the basis of his better strike rate. Afridi smacked 11 sixes off just 40 balls during his all-time fastest knock of 102 against Sri Lanka at Nairobi in 1996 while Jayasuriya consumed 65 balls for same number of sixes during a knock of 134 runs against Pakistan at Singapore.

* Pakistan's charismatic off-spinner and founder of 'doosra' delivery Saqlain Mushtaq also won a couple of world distinctions for Pakistan. He reached the 100-wicket mark in 53 ODIs, one fewer than Kiwi pacer Shane Bond. Saqlain was also quickest to reach 200-wicket mark. He did so in just 104 games.

* The next two similar feats performed by Waqar Younis, who completed his 300 and 400 wickets in 186 and 252 One-day Internationals respectively.

* The distinction of youngest ODI player also went to Pakistan when Hasan Raza appeared in Quetta ODI against Zimbabwe in 1996 at the age of 14 years and 233 days.

* Pakistan have some unwanted distinctions to its credit as well. The two instances of most number of ducks in a one-dayer also belong to Pakistan.

Pakistan's six batsmen went back to pavilion without opening their account against England at Birmingham in 1987 and then in 1993 against West Indies at Cape Town.

South Africa was the other team whose same number of batsmen got out for a duck against Australia at Sydney in 2002.

* Pakistan conceded a huge 59 extras against West Indies at Brisbane in 1989. 'Generous' Pakistan again conceded the same number of extras now against minnows Scotland at Chester-le-Street in 1999.

* The game between Pakistan and Scotland produced 96 extras at Chester-le-Street in 1999 which is most in a match.

* Most wides in an innings: Pakistan bowlers threw 37 wayward deliveries against West Indies at Brisbane in 1989. The second best figure of 33 wides also belonged to Pakistan who performed this 'feat' against Scotland at Chester-le-Street in 1999.

* Here is another unwanted distinction of most byes conceded in an innings. This 'feat' (20 byes) was performed by Ashraf Ali in 1980 against West Indies at Sialkot.

 

The writer is a staffer at

'The News' Lahore

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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