is a clear pathway that was missing earlier'
Ian Chappel has termed it "the shortest but suddenly the most desirable form of the game". For a cricket-crazed nation like ours, Twenty20 is the latest fad, the hottest thing to happen since, perhaps, Shoaib Akhtar. However, this isn't entirely why cricket makes it to our Special Report this week.
T20, besides establishing its popular appeal through the ongoing World Cup in South Africa, has got the players laughing all the way to the bank. Predictably, it has also stirred a controversy regarding the viability as well as the dignity of the game.
It's not just about the eternal debate on traditional-versus-modern, but with the changing pace of the times, a "snazzier and sexier" (to quote a leading Indian daily columnist) version of the game is just what the doctor ordered. It's decidedly more entertaining. But, again, the million-dollar question being asked today is, whatever will become of the classical Test match? And, whether the charm of the newer version of the game will overshadow the good ol' one-dayers that thrived on their 50 overs? The answer, sadly, lies in the very question itself.
There are both positive and negative aspects of T20. On the one hand it brings out the best in players while on the other it solely focuses on success with no room for losers.
Limited-overs cricket is here to stay. But, it would be a pity -- indeed something of a tragedy -- if these new forms were ever to completely wipe out the elegance of Test cricket
By Kamila Hyat
Crises of various kinds are a favourite topic of discussion these days. While the most current focus is on politics, cricket is never far from the thoughts of many in the country, and the antics of individuals such as Shoaib Akhtar seem intended to ensure it is kept there.
But moving the lens further back from the torrid and frequently unpleasant affairs of Pakistan cricket, there are also other issues to generate debate regarding the sport. The current Twenty20 contest underway in South Africa, and the suggestions made in its run up that this ungraceful form of quick-fire cricket could one day replace the now firmly established 50-overs a side game, has once more brought debate on the issue of limited overs cricket, versus the classical Test match, played out leisurely over five days punctuated by the traditional lunch and tea-breaks, although the tradition of a 'rest' day after the third day, alive till a few years ago, has now begun to all but vanish.
While the issue can still generate heated debate three decades after one-day cricket began to emerge as a major part of the sport, with a component of limited overs cricket added to most contests between nations, the fact is that 50-overs aside, cricket is now widely accepted. And, in this regard, it is important to remember that in another era, the move to limit Test matches to five days rather than contests played out without a stipulated time frame had drawn just as much angst and anger.
But that time has long since faded into the past. The images of the bearded W.G.Grace taking his stance at the crease are now familiar to only a handful of fans. The ambience of the modern game, with the flood-lights and white balls and coloured uniforms that are now so much a part of cricket's culture, is distinctly different.
While purists tend to label such innovations as negative, the fact is that change is essential to all aspects of life. The one-day game, and the revolution brought by a certain gentleman named Kerry Packer in the 1970s has revolutionised much about cricket. The changes may have worked against batsmen who liked to construct innings carefully, run by run, in favour of the 'big hitters' whose cross-batted shots forced many to cringe, but the shortened form of cricket has brought new interest to the game. The excitement of a spot-lit field and the fire of the final overs of a one-day contest, almost certain to end in a result -- or else the still more exciting 'tie', so beloved of bookies -- unless rain intervenes, has brought in new audiences into grounds.
It is also important to remember that without the quite unique demands of one-day cricket, the cheeky reverse sweep perfected to a fine art by Javed Miandad, and emulated by so many others, may never have been seen. And the sight of spinners such as Mutiah Murlidharan or Shane Warne literally mesmerising batsmen desperate for runs may too have passed everyone by.
But, as every cricket captain knows, there are two sides to every coin. The face turned up as the disc of metal spins and falls can spell doom, or triumph.
While limited-overs cricket has created new audiences for the sport, and encouraged the development of new skills among players, it has also robbed the sport of some facets. Crowds at many Test matches are now in short supply, and especially during the opening days of a contest, empty stands are now becoming an increasingly usual sight. Power has assumed preference over technique -- as Shahid Afridi's one-day successes go to show -- and there is less space for spinners, even if the most exceptional among them have proven no rule is absolute.
It is, however, always important to remember that there are reasons that lie quite outside the field of play to explain why certain changes have taken place in the sport of cricket, and indeed, as in other games, continue to do so, sometimes with overwhelming speed. To take just one example, the tie-breaker which today ends a set in tennis is an innovation that dates back barely two decades. Only the Wimbledon Championship, rooted in tradition, has held out against the tide by declining to permit the slam-bam of the tie-break in the final set of a contest.
A powerful force in the ushering in of these changes has been the media, and particularly live telecasts. Indeed, the issue of media rights, the time a match is scheduled to attract peak audiences and sometimes even the colours worn by the contestants are now a critical part of the management of the sport. This, too, has been a factor in the changes seen over the past few decades, as professionalism and the entry of big money into sport has altered the nature of contests.
There can be no doubt that the shorter version of the game is best suited for media purposes and the commercial interests that lie close to its heart.
It is, of course, no coincidence that in the many commercials featuring cricketing super stars, it is the one-day version of the game that figures most prominently. In turn, this attracts further appeal for the limited overs contest. The sedate Test match -- which could finish in three days or remain frustratingly stalemated after five -- simply does not have the same commercial appeal as the razzmatazz of one-day cricket, even if new camera angles and a vast improvement in commentary techniques have added some much needed excitement.
The fact, then, is that in today's high-pace era, limited-overs cricket is here to stay. It also seems inevitable that other innovations will come in, such as double-wicket contests or the 20-20 game.
But, it would be a pity -- indeed something of a tragedy -- if these forms were ever to completely wipe out the elegance of Test cricket. There is, after all, still something magical about following the innings conjured up over days, the intricate twists and turns a longer game can take, and the strategy, akin to a game of chess, that goes with it. To lose this would mean losing a great chunk of the essential spirit of cricket and all that it means to so many.
Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Dr Nasim Ashraf on good governance, the development of cricket, and a culture of professionalism and discipline
By Aoun Sahi
The News on Sunday: The constitution of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is a long-standing issue. Patron-in-Chief of PCB, the president has got it signed. When will it be implemented, and what are the salient features of the constitution?
Dr Nasim Ashraf: I took over as chairman PCB on October 6, 2006, and on October 12, 2006, I had sent a proposal draft of the constitution to the president. We were committed that there would be a fully functioning constitution in which all the stakeholders must be represented and given the right of decision-making. Under the new constitution, there is a fifteen-member governing board. This body has the supreme authority and it will include five members from the different cricket regions of the country, two test cricketers (for the first time in the history of cricket they have been given a seat of table in the governing body), one representative from each department that plays first-class cricket and six technocrats.
TNS: Why are technocrats being included in the running matter of PCB? You think this idea will work?
DNA: Look, today, cricket is a big business and we need to manage it as such. We need expertise not only in cricket but also in financial matters, management, legal matters, marketing, and HR. And, by inducting technocrats, the constitution provides for an opportunity to manage all these areas. We thoroughly studied the constitution of different countries of the world and their cricket boards, before this was finalised. Initially, there was a committee headed by Justice Bhandari. Shaharyar Khan also did a lot of work in this regard. But, ever since I took over, it became my top priority. Now, I can proudly say that the constitution has been finally approved by the patron of cricket board and, in the next few days, the constitution notification will also be issued and implemented.
TNS: Discipline is always an issue, despite your claims otherwise.
DNA: I have proved from day one through my actions that I have zero tolerance for disciplinary cases. I am not concerned whether the team wins. When the doping scandal came out and Shoaib Akhtar and Asif were tested positive on the eve of the champions trophy 2006 in India, without taking any time I asked that they should be sent back home. I appointed an independent committee that found them guilty.
As per rules, the accused had an appeal process. But, again, we appointed an independent appellate tribunal headed by renowned Justice Fakhruddin Ibrahim that exonerated these two players on a technical basis. So, the PCB did what it should, and my commitment towards zero-tolerance stands vindicated. Similarly, if you look at the any other issue, I have always acted according to the rules and not allowed anything special to happen.
TNS: Will Shoaib, after all that happened in South Africa, be given a relaxed punishment again?
DNA: We've never treated Shoaib as a special case. When he left the test camp in Karachi, the camp commandant immediately reported the issue, whereupon the standing disciplinary committee investigated the case and slapped a fine. Again, as per rules, there was an appeals process. I cannot deny anyone that; even if the person is a repeat offender. The appeals committee found, on technical grounds, that Shoaib could not be contacted for a hearing because of incorrect address, and imposed a suspended sentence.
Now, unfortunately, again he has become involved in a brawl in South Africa. I feel that this was most unfortunate because it not only hurt Pakistan cricket but also badly damaged our image internationally. The tour management committee immediately conducted a hearing, recorded statements, and made a decision about sending Shoaib back home. I endorsed the decision and suspended him.
Now, according to the process of the PCB, he has to appear before a full disciplinary committee once the team comes back from T20 because all the players and officials were there. Shoaib Akhtar will also be given an opportunity in the course of the disciplinary hearing to explain his position. And, any other issues concerning the incident that may come up would also be investigated. I will personally monitor the whole proceedings. I can assure you that it will be a fair trial, but no mercy or lenience will be shown and we will strictly decide in the larger interest of the Pakistan cricket.
TNS: What do you have to say about players like Imran Farhat, Muhammad Yousuf and Razzaq who have joined the Indian Cricket League?
DNA: If any one has signed a contract with the PCB, then he will have to play with PCB. This applies to everybody. I cannot have one rule for Yousaf and another for the rest of the team. It is not fair, and we don't work like that. So, they will have to reconsider their decisions.
TNS: What is your take on T20 cricket?
DNA: Twenty20 cricket, which attracted ridicule only a couple of years ago, has established its popularity and is most likely to grow. In Pakistan, we have been playing this form of cricket officially for the last two or three years now. The PCB has been organising a T20 league, but Karachi and other places have long been witness to this form of cricket. The PCB is committed to it because, I think, it has a very exciting future, not only for the players but also for family viewers and individuals who can enjoy the game that will last only about three hours. In my judgment, the future of T20 is more than bright.
The PCB and the cricket boards of other countries have already planned an international T20 champions' league that will help build our own T20 league and also bring in more money and better opportunities.
TNS: It is being said that the PCB earns millions from players but is not spending enough to develop cricketing infrastructure in the country.
DNA: That's not true. As a matter of fact, the PCB is spending millions to develop cricket infrastructure in the country. We are providing for first class grounds with green pitches and proper grass in over 100 districts of the country. Our emphasis is on raising the level of competition in domestic cricket. Unless we achieve that, the discipline and fitness issues in the national cricket team cannot be addressed.
We have already started a programme of regional academies in 11 different cricketing regions. The PCB will provide a trained coach, an assistant coach, a fielding coach, a physio and a trainer in all these academies. This year, we will complete them in Karachi, Multan, Mirpur (in Azad Kashmir), and Abottabad. Next year, we will cover other regions of the country also.
Besides, as per PCB's new policy, salaries will be paid to 20 first class cricketers from every region. We also have launched a massive national talent hunt scheme in collaboration with Mobilink and Geo TV. All our young players below the age of 16 can walk into these trials. They will be given complete coaching facilities and have a proper career pathway from under-16 to under-19 to Pakistan Academy to Pakistan-A, and finally to our national team. Now, one can say that there is a clear pathway that was earlier missing.
Surely he is to cricket what John McEnroe was to tennis and Maradona to football -- brilliant yet exceptionally prone to self destruction
By Adnan Mahmood
How shall Shoaib Akhtar be remembered ten years from now -- as world cricket's quickest bowler ever or as the most mercurial and controversial player to set foot on a cricket field? Surely he is to cricket what John McEnroe was to tennis and Maradona to football -- brilliant yet exceptionally prone to self destruction.
But, isn't all brilliance erratic -- following its own course without caution or restriction? Doesn't this add to the charm and appeal of our stars? Representing all that the average man hopes to be in the real world -- Shoaib is both defiant and rebellious, and his obvious disdain for authority has added to his popularity. But many claim that at the same time this attitude has brought notoriety to Pakistan and cricket. Nothing more so than Shoaib hitting his own teammate with a bat.
This was not always the case as he found fame and adulation easy. He was quick, bursting with energy, and boasted a full flop of hair when he made his debut against West Indies in his hometown of Rawalpindi in 1997, and thus the nickname 'Rawalpindi Express' drawing parallel to Pakistan Railways' most famous express train from the city.
However, with big fame often comes a big ego. The express from Rawalpindi was soon more interested in hitting the 100 mph barrier than helping his team win. While he has since then achieved the target, his contribution towards the success of his team has been sporadic at best. Regular controversies and injuries have limited his continued appearances for Pakistan.
He was sidelined twice by the Pakistan cricket board to counter the throwing controversies and missed innumerable series due to injuries. To his credit, Shoaib fought through all this.
"I respect him for showing the resolve of continually trying to make a come back. He has been written off often, but he has always bounced back. He was first accused of chucking and was then injured for quite some time, and that was the first time his career appeared to be totally over," says Imran, a fellow player in the domestic circuit.
But, Shoaib returned from adversity to continue to hound players from all around the world, including the mighty Australians, with two memorable five fors' against the world champions in 2002. Come the 2003 World Cup and Shoaib's form eluded him once again and so did his fortune. Stories, along with pictures, of his partying ways surfaced amid a huge outcry from Pakistan's unforgiving fans.
Around this time also came a controversial series in India. He underperformed and gave ample excuses to allow teammates to question his commitment. He 'left the field at a crucial stage of the third test, citing wrist injury and back pain, though neither injury seemed to bother him when he came out to bat,' it was later reported.
Troubled relationship with captain Inzamam and coach Bob Woolmer continued to threaten his career, but a better rapport with the board ensured he was never far from reckoning and he made a hero's return in the home series against England. In Vaughn's words he was clearly the difference between the two sides as Pakistan at last won a notable home series.
As if by inevitability, the fairytale was bound to be shortlived. By the end of 2006, Shoaib was embroiled in one of the biggest controversies in a sportsman's career. Traces of the banned substance, Nandrolone, were found in the samples of both Shoaib Akhtar and his then bowling partner and now nemesis, Muhammad Asif. While the initial two-year ban on him was drastically reduced on the pretext of a lack of knowledge, following a public disgust from the international anti-doping agencies, the two were unable to play for Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup.
Shoaib returned for a match in between, but his troubles with team management, injuries and form continued. Following a televised bust-up with Woolmer and a hamstring injury he returned from South Africa with little possibilities of change in his cricketing life.
As if to vindicate all his detractors who believe he is capable of doing more harm to Pakistan cricket than good, Shoaib blew a final chance of redemption. In a dressing room bust-up, either witnessed or catalysed by Afridi, Shoaib hit Asif with a bat on his thigh. Apologies and accusations later, he is still at a crossroads in his career as the board, it seems, has also finally run out of patience.
Coming back to ten years from now -- I shall always remember Shoaib Akhtar for what he was on the day ninety thousand Calcuttans turned up in sweltering heat to pay homage to Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden Gardens in 1999. Instead, they stayed to gawp as a young roustabout from Rawalpindi, bowling like the wind, uprooted their idol's middle stump as soon as he arrived at the crease. It was Tendulkar's first golden duck in test cricket and the first time I saw Shoaib doing his imitation of a dervish dance in the middle. No one can take that memory from me, not even Shoaib, even if he wants to.
By Mustafa Nazir Ahmad
"We have lost our cricketers. We have lost the game. We have lost the art of true devotion. Cricket is meandering on tired grounds. It has left the realm of mysticism, moved from the pure sphere of almost religious leanings to a deceitful arena devoid of myth, fable and legend," writes Tishani Doshi.
Cricket, over the years, has changed from a leisurely Victorian gentlemen's pastime to an increasingly competitive game that involves the whole nation as if pitched in a battle. A game that once boasted of its strong moral values and conventions has been stripped of its essence due to the increasing pressure from the market forces.
Cricket has changed a lot especially in recent years, so much so that it has become a new game altogether. Someone who has seen Bishan Singh Bedi applauding a batsman of the opposing side after being hit for a six or Courtney Walsh giving only a warning to Abdul Qadir who had backed up too much instead of running him out in a World Cup match would struggle with the vagaries of this new game.
There used to be time when people listened to commentary of cricket matches on radio and had their share of fun. In the 1970s, live television broadcasts of cricket matches became the norm. As technology unveiled further, coverage of cricket matches improved greatly with the simultaneous use of as many as 26 different cameras placed at different angles. No wonder, the viewers in the cricket-playing countries were involved to an extent that they almost forgot about everything else; while everyone associated with the game benefited.
The remuneration of players increased tremendously, as they were offered regular contracts instead of match fees. Moreover, they fattened their purses through advertising stints. Not to be left behind were umpires, commentators, match referees and cricket boards. But the pressure the modern life puts on most of us in terms of lack of time also meant that 'boring' five-day Test matches were too much to invest in. One-day cricket started drawing all the crowds with test matches becoming more of a thing of the past.
However, as was predictable, there came a time when one-day matches also became too long for the viewers' comfort. It meant spending the whole day, or the night, in front of their television screens. Well, who could afford such a luxury in these times when most people have to work day in and day out to earn a livelihood for them and their families. So the Twenty20 version of cricket made its entry and became a favourite with the cricket fans, at least most of them if not all, in no time -- you have the result in a little more than three hours, there are hardly any 'boring' maiden overs and batsmen try to score of every possible opportunity instead of sticking to the wicket.
This form of cricket brings out both the best and the worst in cricket. Coming to positives first, Twenty20 cricket emphasises that some of the rudimentary principles of cricket are followed strictly. For example, teams have to put in more effort in the fielding department in order to save every single run. Similarly, batsmen take the first run real hard, so as to pressurise the fielder to make a mistake enabling them to take a second run. Bowlers are expected not to deliver a lot of wide balls and no no-ball at all if possible, as a free hit (on which a batsman can only be run out) to an opposing side spells disaster. In short, Twenty20 aims at bringing out the best in players. It is also involves more professionalism and strategic thinking than the Test match or one-day cricket, as you do not get a second chance. The shortened version of the game does not allow you a lot of opportunities to cover up for an earlier mistake, say a dropped catch.
As far as the negatives of the Twenty20 cricket are concerned, critics argue that it is against the spirit of the game in that it justifies the use of all possible tactics -- mostly unfair -- in order to ensure victory. They also contend that the game is not simply about winning and losing, but the way how it is played. The shortened version of cricket is also unjust, they add, as it does not provide the bowlers with an equal opportunity. Actually they have a point here. The wickets for Twenty20 matches are batsmen-friendly to the core, as has also been the case with one-day cricket for the last few years, providing very little scope to bowlers to prove their mettle. Finally, many perceive -- and perhaps rightly so -- that eventually a time would come when even a Twenty20 cricket match would appear to be too long and people would crave for an even more shortened version of cricket. Times change fast, so one can never be too sure!
One can say that the emphasis on victory in cricket reflects the cut-throat competition of modern day commercialisation. While the game was played earlier for fun and it used to be more of a matter of skill, now it has become assumed a strategic dimension. With technology coming to rescue, the laptop-carrying cricket coaches are employing every trick of the trade to ensure victory for their respective sides.
As a result, the game has now got embroiled in various controversies that have assumed scandalous proportions. The game has degenerated so much that there is hardly any evil or scandal which is not attached to it. The more it is becoming popular, accumulating the number of its fans, the more notorious it is becoming for the negative aspects attached. Use of drugs by the cricketers to match mixing for heavy considerations is only one aspect of scandal attached with the game. Betting to the tune of billions by the bookies, who also manipulate match fixing to make fortunes, has become a routine affair with the game.
The game has become so commercialised that the players as well as the cricket boards in different countries have lost sight of the real spirit of the game and are paying more attention to its monetary aspects. The TV channels are vying with each other to obtain exclusive rights for live telecast of matches and tournaments. The mobile phone companies are competing with each other to earn more and more bucks by floating questionnaire and predictions. In the process, the sportsmen spirit has become the main causality. The game is no more played with a spirit of sportsmanship, but with an eye on monetary benefits accruing out of it.
The cricketer fans in particular and the viewers in general evaluate a player by his performance in a single game, with the result that the evaluation of a player from being excellent to a total flop goes on changing from match to match. The cricketers are subjected to bouquets one day and to brick bats the other day. The selection of players for a match or tournaments has become highly controversial also, with personal likings and dislikings of the selectors weighing heavily in making the choice.
In a nutshell the game has lost its glory and place of dignity that once it occupied, and has assumed a bizarre character. When you read the recent write-ups about cricket, these are the words that recur with disturbing frequency: victory, battle, tactics, sledge-pledges, challenge, ruthlessness, carnage, injuries, war, victory, opponent, etc. All these words being spat out by sportsmen and parroted by media people is not doing anyone any good. It is only highlighting the 'Us Vs Them' syndrome, enshrining the idea of the opponent, the 'other', which is the primary reason for violence in the world today. To advocate this in the realm of sports is on par with handing out spears to youngsters and setting them loose on the streets, telling them to dispose of the world's infidels. Something serious shall have to be thought and done to bring this game out of the morass in which it has fallen, with the only alternative to abandon it altogether.
The need of the hour is to improve cricketing infrastructure, keep the players intact and the game going
By Naila Inayat
"The time has come for India to say that the new generation of cricketers depends only on itself to shape its future."
"Who knows tomorrow one of these young cricketers may prove a better player than anybody who has played so far."
"What we need from the players is a big commitment and not big names."
"People would famously ask where you will get the boys from."
All the above -- and many other -- similar-sounding (read pompous) statements have been variously given by India's only World Cup winning captain and Indian Cricket League's (ICL) Chairman, Kapil Dev.
We often get to hear this debate on 'Indian culture' having taken over our own societal norms and values. Though, this penetration through the media has been rather subtle; in the case of the ICL, we are likely to lose some of our prize players to the big, bad neighbourhood rather unashamedly. There is no confusion that it is the ICL that stands to benefit in the game. To quote Kapil Dev, "We will present you the cream of the country that will soon make everybody proud. Our players are free to play for India any time they are wanted." That says it all, doesn't it?
Having said that, all these high-flown statements don't match the ground realities of the 47 players signed on for this season; only Dinesh Mongia, Himesh Badani, and Rohan Gavaskar are the 'branded'. The ICL might just be another step towards the various Confidence Building Measures we have seen between India and Pakistan overtime, where we have mostly ended up as the losing party.
The ICL is the brain-child of Zee Telefilms, a part of the Subhash-Chandra promoted Essel Group which lost out on the rights to broadcast all Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sanctioned international matches in India until 2011. The Essel Group had launched Zee Sports earlier with the anticipation of bagging the telecast rights in 2006, which was followed by Zee acquiring 50 per cent in TEN Sports the same year.
Cricket in India generates Rs.10 billion in advertising and subscription revenue, and Subhash Chandra -- well aware of his company missing out on the lucrative cricket pie -- decided to form a rebel league on the guidelines of the previous professional leagues outside the established boards, such as 'World Series Cricket' formed by Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer in the late 1970s that played a major role in commercialising cricket. USA's 'Pro Cricket League', formed by Kalpesh Patel, began in 2004 and expired the same year. 'Stanford 20/20' was formed in 2006 by billionaire Sir Allen Stanford in the West Indies. Amongst all these, the 'World Series Cricket' has gained momentum, evolving one-day cricket to a different ball-game altogether, and is still being played with the same zeal.
The establishment of the ICL has given rise to a lot of uncertainties in the sub-continent, especially in Pakistan, with regard to the availability of the players to national sides; the immense loss of talent from regional as well as national levels and, most of all, the 'spirit' of playing for the national side. For, the way things are progressing, it seems this would soon become a non-issue.
The entire hullabaloo makes one ponder more over the future of the Pakistan Cricket than the future of the ICL. Till date, as many as five Pakistani cricketers -- namely Abdul Razzaq, Azhar Mahmood, Imran Farhat, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousaf -- have deflected to the ICL, 'overtly' that is.
That's not the end of the story. The ICL Executive Board is confident of making some vital breakthroughs in the future. With players like Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar on the 'waiting list' this might become imperative, given the kind of competitive game that is being played on and off the field these days.
As regards the future of these players back home, Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board Dr Nasim Ashraf is very clear: "They (the players) will have to reconsider their decisions, if they want to represent the country again.
"We want Yousaf to play for Pakistan," he told TNS.
"Yousaf is the backbone of our cricket team. But nobody is bigger than the game, and PCB will not bend rules for any one in particular.".
Regarding Imran Farhat he said, "I have spoken to him and asked him to reconsider his decision."
As for Razzaq and Inzamam, he said that the board had nothing against them. Razzaq did not find a place in the team because of his form, and his track record for the past one year shows that having played 15 ODIs with his highest score not being more than 30 and averaging less than 20 he needs to make a comeback, put up a fight, and prove to the selectors his class.
Ditto for Inzamam who has retired from the ODI cricket and who, according to Dr Nasim Ashraf, needs to prove his form and fitness regarding test cricket.
"If we allow one person who is not fit, it destroys the morale of the entire team. We cannot let that happen," he declared.
What is most striking is the ICL factor damaging the image of cricket in Pakistan. Whatever the aims of the League may be, on the face of it, its Unique Selling Point (USP) is to give an opportunity to the likes of Azhar Mahmood, Dinesh Mongia, Hemang Badani and many others who failed to prolong their international careers. There is a wide disparity in the facilities enjoyed by the national team and the several regional and departmental domestic teams in Pakistan which is the main reason for the players opting out. The regional players lose enthusiasm, vigour and performance when they get a chance to represent the national side. Rana Naveed-ul-Hussan is the current example of that. Despite the recent ruling by the Delhi High Court against BCCI's decision to stop pensions and Public Sector Undertakings of the employers and players, and the scheduling of stadiums under the BCCI, the ICL stands on top.
On whatever parameters we may judge our players, saying they are 'greedy' or something, the fact is that in today's world where we talk of soft borders and globalisation such things cannot be stopped. You have to improve your domestic infrastructure in order to keep your players intact and your game going.