Pakistan Cricket: Now needs to keep up with the Champions' Status?
By Dr. Nauman Niaz
Pakistan transcended to the Semi-Finals of the T20 World Cup infringing South Africa's unfailing expertise. A roller-coaster ride had seen them walloping the perennial chokers though Graeme Smith would go to his grave not believing that his team ever garroted.
Pakistan's solutions to their perpetual capriciousness came through a hero reborn, Shahid Afridi. Since 1997, apparently for the first time in twelve years he has held close the maturity. As Afridi showed a complete turnaround deleting his staggering audacity and impetuousness remodeling himself as a complete one-day/T20 cricketer, Younis Khan's eccentricity and very mediocre captaincy exposed the weaker links in this Pakistan team.
It is one thing to annex a title it is different to show deserving it. Younis principally is a brilliant human-being and quite frequently and nonsensically brave, saw God picking him up to the pinnacle of grandeur and success. Younis was audacious and stubborn throughout the tournament. With Misbah Ul Haq and Salman Butt not being given opportunities in crunch matches, and a very mediocre Shahzeb Hassan helped unconditional to create his own operating space, clearly indicated that that camp's culture, isn't really filled with congeniality. There were indictors, that spitefulness and rancorousness weren't still alien to an often disjointed collection of individually flamboyant and talented cricketers. That Pakistan won, inarguably didn't allow the steam to seethe through the lids. Nonetheless, Younis is egocentric and more frequently eccentric and he may well not be able to evolve as a genuine man-manager.
Aesthetically, practically and logically it wasn't a Pakistan team having claims to the world title.. South Africa, Sri Lanka and India were at least couple of zillion times better, but it was an incessantly brilliant Umar Gul who often bowled them to unprecedented wins. And if they did it, being crowned as the T20 World Champions, though most of it could be attributed to destiny, still they had to win against Holland, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and Sri Lanka to desert their underdog's status quite manfully. Interestingly, barring Afridi who was at his matured best and Gul, no one else used any rocket science.
Gul reversed the ball beautifully, brilliant enough to add suspicions to Daniel Vettori's team management. And if they could talk about a possible ball-tampering, they should have sunk their shameless faces in the sand. Gul is a steadfast, preserving, hard-working bowler, never appearing in the dope or disciplinary charge sheet; only he has had injured issue, and which seemingly he has battled manfully. He may well not be a great cricketer, as amazing as Waqar Younis or Wasim Akram still he is an outstanding character, a real work-horse who has developed into World T20's best bowler.
The specific context within which we make a final categorization of the new T20 World Champions, we know only too well: Pakistan triumph in England, rendezvous in aesthetic celebration of performance excellence; and realistically it also had a tinge of providence, coincidences, windfall, and of course as it happens in cricket, a stroke of luck. Truth is that Pakistan is the new World T20 Champion.
This team has always been special; it holds a reputation within the Pakistani society that extends beyond the stadia and connects to philosophical discourses that continue to engage critiques and historians seeking an understanding of the project of Pakistani nation building and nationalistic dispensation. Subjective judgements often underpin much of what academics say about the relationships of individuals to society. Each generation has its mission which it can fulfil or betray. This Pakistan team though fulfilled what was expected of them by the Pakistani society almost betrayed their trust through patchy recklessness.
It has been a story of a turbulent but rewarding journey to excellence that would have place within the space of historians. It contains important principles of political and moral philosophy and speaks metaphorically to the tensions, paradoxes and contradictions of newly evolving social consciousness. There were couple of pretenders within the team but it won because there weren't any false prophets.
I interpret events according to my lights and though, at times, I may appear judgmental, in the end, I am subjective. Here I try capturing the mood of Pakistan, a mood still buoyed by the freshness of a new team performing creditably in search of an identity, prickly because they lost to England in the preliminary round, and then to Sri Lanka in the Super Eights but not indignant enough that their run in England didn't vanish into a dream, though the Pakistani game has been on course to neo-fascism.
Amidst Pakistan's impressive performances in England, this period of the rise of cricket's political elite, the bureaucratic decision-making, puppet-masters, engineering intrigues and coups (as it happened to Abdul Qadir etc.) and the ensuing musical chairs, fast track, circular politics so that the PCB isn't even arriving at the beginning. And if this T20 World title is going to be taken as a mask to all frailties and shortcomings, and not used as a tool to develop cricket in every tier, we would most end up a step further close to dark ages.
Writer is the Member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and Official Historian of Pakistan Cricket