October 8, 2009

Younis Khan’s head could be on chopping block for wrong reasons


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Intrigues and mismanagement have been part and parcel of Pakistan cricket for a number of years. In the absence of seasoned and committed administrators the affairs of the controlling body of the game have mostly remained in the hands of people with vested interests.

It’s not uncommon in Pakistan cricket to go unpunished after committing blunders and misdeeds. There are also examples of the cricketers having made scaegoats and penalized for the faults of others. The captaincy of the national team has never been a bed of roses and more often than not there have been uncalled for controversies.

I fail to comprehend how Pakistan’s performance in the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2009 in South Africa could be considered a debacle or even below par.

The defeat against New Zealand in the semifinals has been blown out of proportions and an impression is being passed by certain quarters that there was some foul play in it.

I don’t know how those learned members of the Governing Body of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), who are now crticial of the performance of Younis Khan in particular, had taken for granted that Pakistan would be returning home with the trophy in their baggage when the team was actually not even expected to enter the semifinals.

Australia and India were rated among the favourites for the title but these teams were placed in Pakistan’s group. It was nothing short of a miracle that Pakistan forced their way into the knockout stage of the competition against the heaviest of odds.

Pakistan never had an impressive record on the soil of South Africa where the ball seamed and bounced much more to their liking. Yet Pakistan defied all odds to cruise into the semifinals. Beyond that it was always going to be a bonus.

Similarly neither New Zealand nor England were expected to progress beyond the first round in the presence of the likes of South Africa and Sri Lanka in their group. England succumbed to Australia in the semifinals and the New Zealand crashed in the final against the same opponents. There was no hue and cry in any part of the world because that’s how life goes.

When England and New Zealand can feel relaxed after having performed beyond expectations why has Pakistan been denied this luxury? I think the movers and shakers of the game in the country should rise above petty interests and they should rather mobilize their energies in doing things that could lead to the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan.

This is not the right time to displace Younis Khan. Why should he be removed from captaincy when the team has actually come up with much better performance than anticipated. All his moves should not be taken negatively.

He is after all a human being and cricket is a team sport. He can’t be the only reason of the defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the semifinals. He should be given time to recover from injury.

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