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  1. #1
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    Member Interview : Markhor

    Many thanks to @Markhor for his insightful responses.

    PakPassion.net : Do you think Misbah-ul-Haq is Pakistan's greatest Test captain?

    Markhor : I’d still give Imran Khan the edge given his overseas record in a strong era for Test cricket in the 1980s. Beating India and England away in 1987 and drawing to an ATG West Indies side in 1988 are achievements that’ll be hard to top. Pakistan were the only team to win a Test in the Caribbean in the 1980s, the only team to avoid defeat in a series in the Caribbean between 1974 and 1995, the only team to win a series in India between 1985 and 2000, and they did not lose a series outside Australasia between 1982 and 1993.

    I have an enormous amount of respect for Misbah-ul-Haq. The quality of players he inherited was nowhere near the same calibre of Imran’s side. In Imran’s first Test as captain at Edgbaston in 1982, he had a middle order boasting of Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas and Wasim Raja. In his later years he would have bowlers like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Abdul Qadir to call upon. In Misbah’s first Test as captain, the only batsman worthy of comparison to that class was Younis Khan. His bowling attack consisted of Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal. He’s also the first Pakistan Test captain to have the dubious distinction of never captaining his team in a home Test. People must never forget that Pakistan’s players have to apply for visas to play their so-called “home Tests”. Tactically, you could probably find better. Misbah can be unnecessarily defensive at times and is a better captain of spin bowlers than pace bowlers. However, as a leader of men he’s arguably our finest. Whilst Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram were good tacticians, they had no man management skills. Misbah’s built an almost un-Pakistani Test team in its resilience and willingness to tough it out in difficult situations.


    PakPassion.net : Did you ever lose hope as a fan after the spot-fixing scandals in 2010?

    Markhor : Yes. I vividly remember the reaction on PP when the news broke. I think the record for the number of expletives in one thread was broken that night! When one devotes so much of their life to supporting a team, follows every titbit of news and pours so much emotion into every match – to only find out they have been deliberately underperforming to enrich themselves – you feel as if you’ve been taken for a ride. I had no interest in the ODI series afterwards and like many Pakistan fans reflected whether all this grief in supporting one team was worth it. Ijaz Butt was nowhere to be seen and there was no organisation within the Pakistan camp, no coherent media response, no leadership.

    Hearing Salman Butt in the post-match interview dedicate The Oval victory to the flood victims that summer, knowing he’d just perpetrated a fix in that very Test still sickens me. Pakistan has been renowned for its incredible ability to endure any controversy, absorb any defeat and still produce talented players capable of delivering on a cricket field. But surely that ability is finite. How many times can one country pull themselves back from the brink? Remember this was one year after the Lahore attacks on the Sri Lankan team the previous year, the infighting in the team that saw players rebel against the leadership of Younis Khan, oathgate and humiliating results away to Sri Lanka, Australia and England. I remember Ian Botham and Nasser Hussain calling for Pakistan to be suspended from international cricket until they got their house in order. I could only foresee a future where we were 6th-8th in the Test rankings at best.


    PakPassion.net : Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq; are they capable enough to carry the Pakistan Test team on their shoulders? (after the retirements of Pakistan stalwarts Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq)

    Markhor : I hope so but I don’t know whether either has a) the ability and hunger of YK to produce daddy hundreds, that incredible knack of converting 50s to 100s, 100s to 150s and 150s to 200s, and b) Misbah’s consistency and leadership. I know some PPers have said we’ve made the wrong choice to invest in Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, but I think this England tour has proven that decision right. Both have the technique to succeed outside Asia.


    PakPassion.net : Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal were once widely regarded as the future of Pakistan cricket; what went wrong?

    Markhor : Firstly I don’t understand why there’s so much discussion over two players whose records aren’t such that we’re leaving Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar out of the side. I personally still hope both batsmen come good. It seems Pakistani batsmen hit their peak after the age of 30 these days!

    Both have had attitude issues dating back to their U19 and NCA days, Mudassar Nazar himself has verified this in a PP interview so this isn’t just innuendo.
    Shehzad still has technical issues - playing away from your body with static footwork is asking for trouble against any decent new ball bowler. Akmal needs to stop thinking he can coast on the perception of “talent” and knuckle down in domestic cricket. Not having scored a single FC century in 3 years for someone who’s been hyped over the years as one of Pakistan’s best young batsmen is not good enough. He also gets tied down by any decent spinner.


    PakPassion.net : Are you optimistic about the future of Pakistan cricket?

    Markhor : In Test cricket, it depends how well we can transition from Younis and Misbah who will leave behind a wealth of experience and ability. We’ve seen how Sri Lanka have slumped after the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Pakistan next year have tours to West Indies and Bangladesh, and a series with Sri Lanka. These are the ideal opponents for young replacements like Babar Azam, Haris Sohail or even Saud Shakeel to prove themselves – with all due respect to those teams. We also need to find a batting all-rounder who can provide a 5th bowling option outside Asia, when we’re not playing 2 spinners, otherwise our frontline bowlers will break down.

    Limited overs cricket is a batsmen dominated game and our fortunes will depend on whether we have the batting firepower to consistently put up 300+ totals like the other top ODI teams are doing. In T20s, you’re looking at 160-170 plus. Again it’s about how well these youngsters can adapt to international cricket. For too long we’ve hung onto tried and tested players – the worst example being the selection for the 2013 CT. Look at how England have been revitalised after the disastrous 2015 WC by bringing in young talent suited to the format and have played fearless cricket. Hopefully Sharjeel Khan can provide the sort of power hitting at the top of the order we’ve lacked for years. I’m not convinced by Azhar Ali as a potential Test captain given his poor start leading the ODI team, though I hope he can improve as he gains more experience in the role.

    With Inzamam-ul-Haq’s appointment we finally have a Chief Selector who’ll ensure merit-based selection. As he watches more domestic cricket I’m sure the best youngsters will be rewarded. Hopefully selection policy won’t be as haphazard and neurotic as it was under Iqbal Qasim, Wasim Bari and Haroon Rasheed. With the PCB – well you never know. I hope the next Chairman after Shehryar Khan will be a sane head who’ll have the right people around him.


    PakPassion.net : Haris Sohail or Fawad Alam?

    Markhor : I’d only consider Fawad Alam in the Test format. Haris Sohail has a future in all formats but needs to improve fitness.


    PakPassion.net : Is Mohammad Amir a world-class bowler - as some like to label him?

    Markhor : I think absence can make the heart grow fonder. As the years of Amir’s suspension went by, the myths and the legend grew – distorted by Amir’s performances on the 2010 tour of England where damp, overcast conditions aided the swing bowlers considerably. I think it’s fair to say Amir’s best performances so far in international cricket have come in favourable conditions whereas world-class bowlers can deliver even when conditions are adverse. He hasn’t been bowling a lot of those inswingers to the right-handers that we saw before the ban.

    However, it’s not fair to dismiss a bowler who hasn’t played Test cricket for 6 years. I know people counter by saying he’s played FC and LOI cricket but nothing can truly replicate Test match conditions where you’re pitted against world-class batsmen. His pace is still good, he took the second most wickets in the England series out of all our seamers and he was our most economical bowler.


    PakPassion.net : Favourite non-Pakistani player and why?

    Markhor : When I grew up, cricket would be available free to air on UK television – on the BBC and later Channel 4. So I’ve seen a lot of England home Tests, one of my favourites being the 1998 England-South Africa Test at Trent Bridge. The series was in the balance. England required 247 to win in the fourth Test. Allan Donald decided to come on and produced one of the fiercest spells of fast bowling I’ve ever seen.

    Michael Atherton played and missed at a few before finally gloving a brute of a delivery aimed at his throat to Boucher. The fielders all went up and celebrated but Atherton didn’t walk and the umpire gave not out. This infuriated Donald though later admitted he’d have done the same. He cursed at Atherton initially in Afrikaans and then in English. He steamed in with a wild look on his face, followed by a killer’s stare. Forget taking Atherton’s wicket, this man seemed as if he wanted to take his head off! Nasser Hussain then nicked one to Boucher who spilled a basic catch. Donald let out a huge cry of anguish and the game slipped from South Africa. England completed the chase but that Donald-Atherton clash was unforgettable, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Allan Donald since.

    Others include Marcus Trescothick. I even bought that same brand of bat as his – GM, as a kid. There wasn’t much technique – stand and deliver stuff. But England could utilise him as an opener even today! Sanath Jayasuriya was another one – could take apart a bowling attack single-handedly, most notably at Headingley in 2006 in an ODI v England. Was amazed to find out he only averaged 32 in ODIs.


    PakPassion.net : Your Top 5 cricketers of all time - and why?

    Markhor : Donald Bradman – yes it was a bygone era with fewer top teams but he’s a statistical freak. His batting average never fell below 90 bar his 39nd innings in 1934. Statslife analysed his numbers and found his performance score was superior to other sporting legends like Jack Nicklaus, Just Fontaine, Roger Federer and Dan Carter. No other athlete dominated an international sport to the extent Bradman does Test cricket.

    Garry Sobers – arguably the greatest all-rounder of all time.

    Sachin Tendulkar – secret Sachinista reporting for duty. Often in the 1990s, it felt like the road to victory against India always went through Tendulkar. One of the most technically complete batsman I’ve ever seen.

    Brian Lara – greatest player of spin I’ve ever seen. Could be unprofessional at times and the WICB let him get away with murder as Tony Cozier documented. However, he was a match winner, the innings in Bridgetown in 1999 vs Australia is arguably one of the finest knocks in Test history.

    Malcolm Marshall – a very intelligent bowler and arguably the greatest out of all the West Indian pace battery. Took 376 wickets at an average of 20. He swung the ball both ways, and developed a useful leg-cutter making him threatening even on flat pitches in Asia. There’s the famous 1984 Headingley Test when Marshall batted with his left hand in a plaster and helped Larry Gomes reach his century vs England. He then took 7 wickets in the 2nd innings! Indicative of the courage Marshall had.


    PakPassion.net : Tell us something about yourself - a short bio, etc.

    Markhor : I became hooked to cricket at the age of six watching the 1996 World Cup. We took out a Sky subscription and it was around the same time I started watching football too and developed affection for Liverpool. I used to print out all the match reports and avidly followed some of the top writers in Pakistan cricket, absorbing every bit of Pakistan cricket info I could. I’d make regular visits to the Book Centre in Bradford where I’d buy The Cricketer magazine which was a real gem for any cricket fan. I’m a locum pharmacist so I don’t work full-time leaving me with time to watch cricket and other sports in my downtime.


    PakPassion.net : What are your interests and hobbies?

    Markhor : Other than following cricket and football, I play a fair bit of squash though not as much as when I was younger. The sport seems to be in the Pakistani genes. I like jogging outside and watching movies, especially satire. Also quite political hence my posts in Time Pass.


    PakPassion.net : Favourite posters on the website?

    Markhor : When I first registered there were some great posters like Oxy and KB who either don’t post anymore or not as regularly which is a shame. KB's knowledge when it came to politics and historical issues was superb. Every post was an education.

    I may be on the other end of the political spectrum as Slog but I always enjoy debating the issues with him. Pete Rose is a level headed, common sense poster who doesn’t knee jerk like many do after defeats and find that quite refreshing. Shaz619 gives a good laugh and common sense Brummie. TalentSpotterPk is exceptional in identifying young cricketers. Ahmedwaqas92 is good at breaking down statistics in a very readable and understandable way. Saj always is reliable for the inside scoops. Had a healthy respect for Robert and found him very fair minded.


    PakPassion.net : Pakistan politics - shall Imran Khan come into the power?

    Markhor : My opinion on Imran Khan is that I admire his anti-corruption stance in a country where billions have been looted from the taxpayer with no accountability, I don’t question his integrity and is a viable alternative to the tried and tested parties who’ve presided over one crisis after another in recent decades.

    I strongly disagreed with his foreign policy stance, especially on talking to the Taliban. They have nothing serious to offer in any political dialogue and their butchering of thousands of innocent civilians makes any arrangement or attempts to normalise such a group into the political sphere unthinkable. It sets a precedent to any armed outfit that violence is an effective means to gain political legitimacy. However, compared to PML-N who’ve appeased Sunni sectarian outfits for decades, and PPP who caved in to the religious right/Saudi influences in the 70s, and made a seat adjustment deal with Sunni Tehreek in the 2013 election, a group that garlanded Mumtaz Qadri, then it’s a smaller sin.

    As for his chances of election, he needs to make inroads into the provinces outside KPK. The two phases of LG elections in Punjab and Sindh weren’t very encouraging.


    PakPassion.net : Your best or worst experience that you'd like to share?

    Markhor : Not on an internet forum!


    PakPassion.net : How did you find PakPassion.net?

    Markhor : I think there was a Cricinfo interview that linked to PP. I’ve been hooked ever since and enjoy posting and writing articles for the site.


    Does cricket survive off of it's money or does it survive for it's money?

  2. #2
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    Nice interview of a very sensible poster on PakPassion!


    IN PAKISTAN LIES OUR DELIVERANCE,DEFENCE, AND HONOUR.
    -Muhammad Ali Jinnah

  3. #3
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    Nice interview but wish there more spicier questions.

    An absolute Time pass forum legend.

    Incredible general knowledge for his age.


    I am not one of you. I never was. I am not one of them either.

  4. #4
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    Great read! Nice, down to earth responses, particularly on the Amir, Umar and Shehzad topic.

    Also, a rather interesting list of top 5 cricketers.

  5. #5
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    I live in Canada; My heart lives in Pakistan
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    Very good interview.

    Top poster whose posts I always stop to read.


    Hai yeh Josh-e-Junoon, hai yeh apna yaqeen, ke jo tum mein hai dum, woh kisi mein nahin!

  6. #6
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    Haven't read many of @Markhor 's posts but obviously seems like a good, mature and serious guy.

    Probably a bit more spice, fun and controversialism is needed at times to counter the seriousness?

  7. #7
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    Very good and a levelheaded poster! Always try to make sure I stop by to read what he is saying

    Made some fair comments about our two superstars Shehzad and Akmal


    Chak de.

  8. #8
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    I've always thought Markhor was a middle aged scholar with round glasses and a french beard to give him the appearance of a twentieth century intelligentsia. His posts always gave that vibe.

    Was totally taken aback when I came to know that he was just around 26. One of the most level headed posters here.

    Will be interesting to know his views on religion and faith. He participates in all the topics in time pass section but that one.

  9. #9
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    Interesting question regarding the Spot Fixing Scandal of 2010.

    Just wondering what was the reaction on PP back then - regarding specifics. What were the topics discussed and who the angriest?

    I would think many people would have given up and left PP and cricket in general back then?

    Care to elaborate anyone?

  10. #10
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    Great interview btw!

  11. #11
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    Good interview ,surprised at his age though always thought of him as much older.


    In cricket, my superhero is Sachin Tendulkar. He has always been my hero.
    -Virat Kohli

  12. #12
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    Terrific poster and one of my favourite, PP wouldn't be the same without him. I always wondered whic career path you took, I have a friend who is a locum optometrist and man it is awesome to work on your own terms! he goes on holiday every 6 weeks

  13. #13
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    On topic....a very nice interview...equally surprised to know his age...always thought of him as a middle aged man!!!

  14. #14
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    Good Interview


    Hey Jazba Junoon to himat na haar.......

  15. #15
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    Good read. Always thought you would be over 30. Anyways, you are in my top 5 list at PP.


    " Don't wait. The time will never be just right "

  16. #16
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    One of the best posters going around on Pakpassion currently; his posts are balanced, insightful and give you a well rounded spectrum of the discussion going on at hand.

  17. #17
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    Good interview!


    Does cricket survive off of it's money or does it survive for it's money?

  18. #18
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    Nice interview. I always thought @Markhor was like 45 years old based on how sensible his comments are but he's quite young really


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