Writing in his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Yasir Arafat praises Pakistan bowlers for their performances at the CPL, explains what Shadab Khan can gain from playing in Twenty20 leagues such as the BBL, advises Umar Akmal to concentrate on his cricket to make an international comeback and looks forward to the visit by the World XI team to Pakistan.
By Yasir Arafat (6th September, 2017)
Pakistan players in CPL
Let me start by praising the performance of Pakistan's bowlers in the 2017 edition of the CPL, they have simply been brilliant. We have Shadab Khan who has 12 wickets in 8 games and the tournament’s current top wicket-taker Sohail Tanvir, who has 15 wickets in 10 games and also recently recorded fantastic figures of 5 wickets for just 3 runs. Then there is Imad Wasim who has the best economy rate of 5.35 as well as Mohammad Sami who has bowled well for 11 wickets in the tournament. All our bowlers have performed exceptionally well but the batsmen have been a little below par. Whilst Shoaib Malik recently crossed the 7000 runs mark in T20s during the CPL, both he and Mohammad Hafeez have not performed to our expectations in this tournament as haven't Babar Azam and Kamran Akmal. Some Pakistan players’ cause was also not helped due to being called back for fitness tests to Pakistan. A few of those players have returned to the tournament whilst some have been replaced by their respective teams which brings me to my next point.
Scheduling of domestic tournaments
This is not an issue which is new. We have seen and been complaining about this for the last 10-15 years in the past. When I used to be playing County or league cricket in England, it would be very normal to be suddenly informed that a domestic tournament was going to start at short notice. I would then have to rush around and buy an air-ticket at my own expense and try and get to Pakistan as soon as possible to take part in trials and get selected for a local team. If I was not selected then I would have wasted time and money, and disappointed my County or league team as well.
Coming to the present situation, if the PCB are going to recall players back in this way, then they should compensate the players for the air-tickets, related expenses and lost income. After that, if they are not selected or the tournament is cancelled then at least they haven’t lost out financially. The PCB need to think about scheduling and rescheduling such tournaments very carefully as this can be very damaging for players who are playing County or one of the leagues like CPL. Also, due to this shuffling of schedules, the chances of getting repeat contracts in future becomes very difficult for these players as well. I am sure that the PCB does put in some thought in planning out their domestic calendar and their objective is to include top names in the team line-ups so that the marketing angle is covered. However, changing the schedule after recalling players is not the right thing to do and needs to be avoided in the future.
The Big Bash League, a great learning opportunity for Shadab Khan
Having played in the BBL myself, I can tell you that I am really pleased to hear about the news that Shadab will be playing for Brisbane Heat in the next edition of the BBL which starts on December 19th this year. It’s a great opportunity for Shadab as I feel that you can learn much more by playing in the BBL than any other league in the world. I recall playing in front of 90,000 people and that for a domestic tournament is simply incredible. Imagine what it will do for the confidence of Shadab when he plays and performs in front of such a huge crowd in future?
Shadab Khan’s participation in Twenty20 Leagues around the world
He has been a great find for Pakistan and continues to do well in the shorter formats of the game but the PCB would be well advised to keep him away from Tests until he has played enough first-class games. He needs to bowl some long spells which will help in muscle development required for bowling in the longer format of the game. As far as participation in tournaments like BBL is concerned, I am of the view that this can only do good for Shadab’s development. I do not think that playing in such tournaments will overexpose Shadab to the opposition as this is how cricket is played all over the world. From one game alone, all that the opposition needs to know about you is available in videos and pitch-maps. You cannot hide a bowler by not letting him play in such tournaments.
On the contrary, what this will do for Shadab is to help him work on new variations in his bowling and to test those out in different conditions around the world. Unlike other formats, Twenty20 is one type of cricket where, to become successful, you have to bring innovation in almost every game you play. This is the only way to survive as a bowler in Twenty20 cricket. If Shadab keeps on bowling in the same way in every game, then the opposition will be able to work out his stock delivery and how his action changes when he bowls a googly. There is, of course, some truth in the fact that playing County cricket where a large number of games being played can result in wear and tear on bowler’s bodies but that really applies to fast-bowlers in my view and should not affect someone like Shadab. He is also very young and he needs to play more cricket at this age; issues such as injuries due to fatigue and so on are things to worry about when he gets to his mid-twenties. For the moment, he needs to play as much as cricket as he can to fine-tune his skills.
The way forward for Umar Akmal
Unfortunately, as things stand with Umar Akmal at the moment it seems that the only person who can really help him is Umar Akmal. I believe all the issues that he is facing are of his own making and no one else should be blamed for them. Of course, he can blame others such as the Police Constable who gave him a ticket or the staff at the Gaddafi Stadium and so on but he must ask himself, why he gets into so many problems. It’s time for Umar to become a more mature person and to get himself out of this downward spiral. I can tell you that I have yet to see anyone with more talent than Umar Akmal in Pakistan but he is yet to fulfil that promise. That is something which fills all of us with great sadness.
I feel that a player of his immense talent should have been keeping himself busy in trying to establish his name in international cricket. Instead, he keeps on getting embroiled in controversies with the latest example being that of his problems with Mickey Arthur. I hope that his elder brother Kamran Akmal also talks sense to him. I do hope Umar discusses this with his family, especially his father who has always been there to help the brothers. He can also get advice from his father-in-law, the Pakistani spin legend Abdul Qadir and work out a way forward where he is able to avoid such controversies and is instead able to concentrate on his own performances on the field. Umar needs to realise that he doesn’t have that many years left to play international cricket so he needs to stay clear in his mind about what he wishes to achieve. If the goal is to play and serve Pakistan then he needs to concentrate on his cricket, do well in domestic cricket and try and make a comeback to the national team.
The World XI tour of Pakistan
It goes without saying that the news of the World XI tour of Pakistan has filled all of us, players and fans, with great happiness. We are all wishing and praying that this tour will pass off safely without any incident. I recall the scenes of joy not only in Lahore but all over Pakistan when the Zimbabwe team visited Pakistan and also the great scenes of happiness we witnessed when the PSL 2017 final was held in Lahore. Even for us who live in the UK, these were great times and we hope to experience the same in the coming days with the visit by the World XI.
As far as cricket is concerned, even though the World XI consists of some top names in world cricket, it is difficult to imagine that they will be able to gel together as a unit as would be the case for an international team. They will be undoubtedly good individual performances by the World XI but I believe that Pakistan will be aiming to play these games to win and we should see some excellent cricket from both sides. Once again, we pray that the three games happen without any problems and one hopes that this tour will also be the first of many by international sides in the future.