end up with all the marbles
Doomed to be defeated
The Aussies' ouster from Twenty20 Cup does not fit in their image of champions
By Waris Ali
While the 17-day long second ICC Twenty20 World Cup, which rightfully went into the hands of Pakistan, had granted a new momentum to the shortest version of the game of cricket, it also unravelled, finally, the ranking of the cricket champions Australia in the fastest edition of the game.
The Ricky Ponting-led team failed to give a performance which may be considered to be at par with their status of being the world champions.
Continuing its deteriorating position, Australia could play only two matches in the tournament and lost the both, failing to reach the Super Eights stage. While in the match against West Indies, the Aussies scored a handsome 169 runs target, the bowlers failed to Gayle-led winning drive of the Windies. The same situation was repeated in the next match of the Aussies, this time against Sri Lanka, when the Ponting-led team again failed to defend its score of 159 runs.
Before the start of the second Twenty20 World Cup on June 05, 2009, Australia had played 21 Twenty20 matches during last four years and could win only 11 of them, i.e. little more than 50 percent; which is a very poor performance in view of the cricket champions' skill, professionalism and continued hold over the game since 1999 World Cup tournament.
On the front of Twenty20 version, Australia have been very poor since the very beginning in 2005 when the shortest cricket edition was officially inducted by the International Cricket Council. Among the 10 regular ICC member teams, while West Indies, England, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are the losers because of their victory rate being less than fifty percent, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, India and Australia have the record of winning more than fifty percent games, and Australia lies at the lowest among these five.
When the South African cricket team visited Australia in December 2008 for the 50-day long comprehensive tour till January 2009, they could win the Twenty20 series by 2-0, first by setting a tough target of 183 runs and then achieving a fair target of 158 runs, raising hopes the world champions might soon rule the shortest version of the game, but in the immediate and reciprocal tour of South Africa from February 20 to April 17, 2009, the Aussies were badly thrashed in both the
Twenty20 matches; first when they failed to check the chasers from achieving the target of 167 runs and second when they could not achieve an fair target of 157 runs.
And when paceman Umar Gul recorded the second-best figures in Twenty20 cricket to help fire Pakistan to a seven-wicket win over Australia, despite losing ODI series, it startled me with an analysis that the Aussies were losing fighters on the Twenty20 battleground. The 25-year-old fast bowler took 4-8 in his four-over spell, combining with leg-spinner Shahid Afridi (3-14) to restrict Australia to a modest 108 in 19.5 overs.
Keeping in view the Aussies' might and heroism in all the three world cup tournaments during the present decade, this was a poor situation for them. In fact, the Aussies have been discussed so much during the decade, but only as winners and champions. Aussies can boast of an enviable performance during last three world cup tournaments, which they won by virtue of their prowess and the will to win, the fact which distinguishes them from other world cup winners Pakistan, Sri
Lanka, India and West Indies. But surprisingly, they failed to demonstrate these qualities during the first ICC Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa two years ago, the cricket champions lose to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India and even to cricket minnows Zimbabwe.
Recalling to mind the history of the cricket World Cup tournaments, we find out that victories of India and Pakistan were a chance occurrence; neither of the teams could win all the matches during the tournaments. Likewise, the invincibility of West Indies during the first two competitions comprised victories in just five matches each time, while the Sri Lankan invincibility was dented by the two matches, which fell into their lap without playing a single ball, because Australia and West Indies had refused to play in Colombo on security grounds, thus leaving the points to the lot of hosts Sri
Lanka. But in the case of Australia, we see that they have been unconquerable during both the mega events of 2003 and 2007, though their victory in 1987 was more a chance occurrence and that in 1999 tournament was dented by their defeat to Pakistan in a round match. It was for this reason that the Aussies were the hot favourite of the first ICC Twenty20 World Cup event.
Just in view of this losing record of the Australians, Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq must have declared that Pakistan and India, the finalists of the first World Twenty20 Cup, are favourites to win the second ICC World Twenty20 tournament. And the prophecy came true partially, as Pakistani had really been able to reach the final and even win the Cup. Earlier in 2007, Pakistan had finished runners-up to India in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup. Pakistan's victory against Australia in Dubai last month, despite losing the one-day series, was their 17th out of 20 Twenty20 matches they have played since this popular brand of cricket was introduced in 2005 and shows that Aussies were still weak for tournament.
Much of the answer to the dilemma of the Aussies' losing spirit in the Twenty20 version can be discovered in the statement of legendary Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan who said that he did not watch Twenty20 cricket because "It is just Toolah (chance) cricket. It is not about skills or talent. That is why, I think any team can win the World Cup." A similar conclusion was made by Misbah in his own words that "Any team can win a Twenty20 game." Maybe the Aussies do not consider the Twenty20 games a regular cricket and are not willing to sacrifice their skill in the mainstream cricket for the sake of Toolah cricket.
But that is a lame excuse; the Aussies must have proved their worth in this version also.
By Abdul Ahad Farshori
Lord's seemed to be the home ground for Pakistan as a sea of green flags were being waved and Dil Dil Pakistan rang out once more to celebrate Pakistan's triumph in the 2009 ICC Twenty20 World Cup. This was Pakistanís first major win in 17 years. But each intervening year has made this victory even sweeter for the country. Skipper of Pakistan Younis Khan followed in the steps of his hero, Imran Khan, and lifted the World Cup last Sunday.
Pakistan's victory involved some divine intervention it seemed. It was in simple terms a victory for a united team, a triumph of spirit, courage and simplicity. There were no tall talks, no marketing hype, no super star status, no tags, nothing.
Prior to the World Cup they practiced in a local Twenty20 tournament, just to get into shape for the mega 12-nation event. By contrast virtually every nation had some players featuring in the IPL.
Experts were not taking Pakistan very seriously at the start of the tournament and they were ranked among the also-rans. In the end there were no theatrics. The win came with a leg-bye. Then there was Shahid Afridi standing at the bowling end with legs stretched out and with arms wide open; as the stadium, full of Pakistani fans, erupted in extreme ecstasy. He stood still, no drama, no shenanigans. It was a pose of a winner who knew the value of this victory.
The team bowed down to thank the Almighty, and embraced the win with hugs, unlike some flashy dance steps that the whole world was introduced to by Sreesanth, in the last T20 World Cup win by India.
This victory of Pakistan was nothing but a team effort as all chipped in. Shoaib Malik was there with Afridi when Pakistan won the final. Maybe not in his full swing but the former captain Pakistan stood his ground at the crease and played an essential role in all the victories of Pakistan.
The comeback king, Abdul Razzaq may have failed to pull out wonders from his bat, but equalled it by ripping apart the top order of Sri Lankan batting in the final. Mohammad Aamir proved his worth in the team when he took the wicket of Tilikkeratne Dilshan -- man of the tournament -- in the very first over of the decider.
Then there were the likes of Kamran Akmal and Shahzaib Hasan -- opening pair of Pakistan -- who never failed to provide the team with an aggressive start which was required in the tournament.
Umar 'Yorker' Gul, by far the best bowler of the tournament, who's accuracy through out the event, was unmatched. He even claimed the best ever bowling figures in the short history of T20 cricket; he took five wickets after just giving six runs. A record which came with controversy, when Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori blamed him of ball tempering -- which aggravated the Pakistani camp. The accusation was later dismissed by the match officials.
While lauding the performance of the team one cannot forget to praise the captain, the man who guided his troops to this glorious victory. His role was widely criticised by our own -- Abdul Qadir -- former chief selector, who resigned while the tournament was going on, saying that Younis is incapable of leading the team and blamed the skipper for selecting an underperforming team for the tournament.
In spite of all this, Younis Khan led the team with dignity and grace. He was criticised for calling the whole thing 'fun'. But when he needed to get serious he did. He barely smiled on the field in the semifinal and the final. The Pakistani skipper showed his ability to face things as they come.
Younis Khan was also named the captain of the ICC team of the tournament. Meanwhile, team coach, Intekhab Alam who was also there when Imran Khan lifted the cup in 1992, with this win he completed his double of the World cup. Assuring the world that in spite of being 68-year-old his tactics are good enough to be implemented in the modern slam bang format of cricket.
Thus Pakistan team was able to deliver a long awaited gift to its depressed nation.
Immediately after the victory, the jubilant nation thronged the streets across Pakistan. The flag waving youth blocked the roads, dancing in celebration. ëPakistan Zindabad' was the slogan being chanted all over the country.
People who gathered to watch the T20 final embraced each other. Time seemingly stood still for a while as euphoria took over a nation which was previously depressed by the tension that engulfs the country.
It was after a long time that people of Pakistan got something to cheer for as one, courtesy of cricketing heroes. For many people it may be just another 'cup' but for Pakistanis their team won a lot more than that, they won them hope. Hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel; hope that, if united, we can achieve what we want in spite of all the odds.
When the team dedicated their victory to the soldiers of the country and all the displaced people it showed that their hearts were with the people of the country who prayed for their well deserved success.
By Hameed ul Haq
There is literally a mayhem on the tennis courts these days and the sports authorities are mute witnesses to the travesties of justice being perpetrated by the Pakistan Tennis Federation. After seven years, the PTF finally decided they were going to hold summer tennis camps, one for the men's Davis Cup team, one for the juniors and one for the ladies (only four days camp). The conditions inside the camps have been discussed in this column in the past and need not be regurgitated. But the way things have been manipulated regarding players who have been invited for the camps, has set new standards of victimization and nepotism.
When the camps began, it was found that three of Pakistan's top players were not even present. The Pakistan number one in thirteen and under Kashan ul Haq, the number five seventeen and under Gibran ul Haq and the Pakistan number four men's player, Abid Ali, the eighteen year old who has reached the semifinals of the last three men's national events. Of course, things were manipulated in order to make them ineligible. Kashan was too young, Gibran was not pliable enough and Abid was not a junior and deemed not good enough for the men's camp in spite of his number 4 ranking. Instead of Abid, a Pakistani Canadian ranked Pakistan number 7, in his late twenties was invited. This man had not done anything of note and, because of his age, had no potential. But the whole thing was wangled by the clerks.
He is not even in the Davis cup team but still he is the camp and will travel with Pakistan team to Malaysia and Philippines. They could have sent a junior player with the team instead of a 29 year old tennis player.
Well and good. These three boys were not too perturbed because they had their own, better training programs and were not overly keen to be part of a typical, lacklustre camp. So they proceeded with their own training on the five available courts. The camp required about five of the ten courts, so the courts were not an issue. Suddenly, one day, the boys found that they had been banned from the courts, even though they were not interfering at all with the camps.
The courts had been locked. A national television channel picked up the story and broke it on the national network. When Dilawar Abbas was questioned by this channel, he demurely stated that he had banned these boys because he was afraid these boys would bring politics into the camps! Anyone who knows even a little bit about Pakistan tennis, or what remains of it, would have told him that these boys had never been involved in any politics. What could a twelve year old, Pakistan number 1, do to disrupt a tennis camp?
But wait, here comes the shocker. A few days into the camp, some youngsters of Islamabad Club were quietly inducted into the camp in utter disregard of any merit. Now, there is nothing wrong with inviting youngsters to the camp. In fact this practice should be encouraged. But when all the best players are sitting outside, not even allowed to practice on their own, it takes an incredible amount of cheek for Dilawar Abbas and the clerks to bring into the camp, unknown, unranked youngsters. But then even though this has set the bar for victimization to new heights, it is not unexpected from people who have never played the sport and treat the PTF like it is a golden bird.
The victimization of innocent children for political purposes is the most depraved form of corruption. However, what is most disturbing in this whole unpleasantness, is that the Minister of Sports hasn't taken any notice of this travesty of justice even though it has been highlighted in our media as a national outrage. Perhaps they are too busy with other matters but, is this not a matter that strikes at the very roots of our sports.
If young, impressionable children are victimized so blatantly, what hope is there? If Federations can get away with behaviour such as this and the Ministry is a silent spectator, then God help our sports.
The camps themselves have been a waste of time as evidenced by the players themselves who spoke out bitterly on a national TV channel against the facilities provided to them. Only one fact needs to be highlighted in this whole sordid episode and which clearly points to the motives of the PTF. The junior players were paid US$3 (Rs. 250/-) per day for three meals, refreshments, laundry and transportation. The coach was paid US$5 (Rs. 400/-) per day. On the other hand, PTF officials, some of whom are umpires, regularly charge US$100 (Rs. 8000/-) per day plus expenses for their services at tournaments. Does anything more need to be said?
PTF held two tournaments under the names of Pakistan Open Master Invitational Women's Tennis Championships and Askari Pakistan Open Masters Invitational Junior Tennis Championships. Apart from the fact that the two names are self contradictory -- it cannot be an Open and an Invitational at the same time -- The names of the tournaments are so long but the number of participants are very less. Amazingly, Waqas Malik, who is playing in the junior event, is not even a junior. He was not permitted to play in the last two National events because he was over age.
It had been the intent of this article to focus on the World Twenty20 Cup, but such has been the outrage amongst the tennis community, including many former Davis Cup players, that it was felt that, in the greater national interest, this matter should be brought to the knowledge of the nation. Haven't we learned a single lesson from our past worst performance in year 2008 when Pakistan Davis cup team played in Asia Oceania Group 'C'. This was for the very first time in the history of Pakistan tennis that the team had to play in Davis Cup in Asia Oceania Group 'C'. All I want to say is that due to the misguidance and wrong decisions made by the clerks, Pakistan tennis has been caused a big harm and the future of Pakistan tennis seems to be doomed.
The writer is a former Davis Cup player, coach and non-playing captain.