Writing in his exclusive blog for PakPassion.net, Mohammad Zahid airs his concerns at the spate of injuries to Pakistan fast-bowlers as headlined by Usman Khan Shinwari, discusses the phenomenal improvement in Pakistan's limited-overs fortunes, Hasan Ali as an example for other fast-bowlers, and expresses his surprise at Mohammad Hafeez's suspension from international cricket whilst being allowed to bowl in domestic tournaments.




Usman Khan Shinwari’s injury is a symptom of a bigger issue

I, like many others, was really impressed by the manner in which Usman Shinwari stepped up and took Mohammad Amir’s place during the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka recently. Obviously, the news of his injury has come as a shock, but then it should really not be that surprising to anyone who has been observing Pakistan cricket for a good few years.

Whilst it is true that injuries are not specific to Pakistan fast-bowlers as the art of fast-bowling does put pressure on the human body, I would say that our bowlers seem more susceptible to breaking down than bowlers from other nations. Now that is very surprising to me especially given the amount of expert help and gym facilities available to our bowlers today. Of course, it depends on a player's body type as well as some are more prone to injuries than others, but still that does not explain why our bowlers are getting injured so often with potentially career threatening injuries. In my playing days too, bowlers did get injured but then that was understandable as there was a definite lack of technical help in terms of fitness training which caused problems in our careers. But today, this is not the case.

There are all sorts of cricket academies and gyms as well as coaches so it's rather puzzling to see the spate of injuries to our bowlers. But what is clear to me is that that not enough is being done at the domestic level to look after our young fast-bowlers. Whether it’s incorrect advice or bowlers not paying attention to what they are being told, the fact is that when our young and inexperienced fast-bowlers are brought into the national side, their bodies are unable to adjust to the stresses of training and playing at the international level, resulting in injuries.

It’s easy to blame the PCB for most problems in Pakistan cricket and possibly they can do more to ensure that trainers and fitness staff associated with domestic teams have the right qualifications and the local academies are equipped with good training equipment. But in this case, I feel that our youngsters are not looking after their bodies as they should, as it is also their responsibility to train in the right way to avoid injuries later.


The improvement in Pakistan’s limited-overs fortunes has been nothing short of phenomenal

The graph of Pakistan's limited-overs side’s progress has been showing a steep incline which is nothing short of phenomenal. Whilst in the past, we have come down hard on our sides for below par performances, it is time for us to come together and give credit for this improvement to the team.

The ODI and T20I sides have good individual players but the most important improvement is that they are pulling together and playing like a team. It is commonly believed that the Pakistan Super League has played a big role in improvement of our limited-overs fortunes and that is true to an extent as the financial rewards have been great, but the real difference has been made by the attitudes of the players and the hard-work of the team management.

Anyone who has worked with Pakistan teams of the past will know that managing and coaching our teams is not easy and to guide them to such a position in international cricket deserves a lot of praise. Our coaches have done a great job as they have managed to unite a team which in the past has always had groupings. To gel a team into a unit is a big achievement and the coach, captain as well as the whole team must take credit for that.


Pakistan’s bowling attack continues to impress

Anyone who follows cricket will have taken notice of the fantastic variety that the Pakistan bowling attack in all formats possesses today. Amongst all our bowlers, Hasan Ali’s progress has been excellent. To me, he is everything that a perfect fast-bowler should be. Not only is he bowling well which is obvious by his bowling figures, but he is also looking after himself really well and training hard. He is an example for other bowlers as well. I can only hope and pray that he continues to remain fit and put in the kind of superlative performances which have become normal for him.

Yes, we have bowlers like Rumman Raees who are able to perform above their usual standard in one game or two, but Hasan Ali’s consistency is something else. While we are on the subject of our bowling attack, let me say that there seems to be a common misconception that our bowlers exist to simply act as support bowlers for Mohammad Amir. There is no doubt that Amir is a brilliant talent but in my view, it’s the presence in the team of a bowler like Hasan Ali which will keep Amir on his toes and drive him to perform better for Pakistan in the future.


Mixed signals from the ICC regarding Mohammad Hafeez’s situation

With the third suspension due to an illegal action, we can safely assume that there is a definite problem with Mohammad Hafeez’s action. Hafeez has been playing for Pakistan for a good many years where his bowling has played an important part in his success. How effective will he be without this important part of his cricket? The balance of the side will be affected by his absence and the team management will need to decide whether Hafeez is crucial for the success of the team going forward with just his batting as his selling point.

As regards to the nature of the ban itself, what is most strange is that whilst Mohammad Hafeez is suspended from bowling in international games by the ICC, they have left the door open for the PCB to allow him to bowl in domestic competitions such as the PSL. In my view, if a player’s action is suspect and subject to suspension at the international level, the same rule must apply to him at the domestic level too. You cannot have two ways of looking at this. I do wonder if the ICC will change their minds and tell PCB to not allow Hafeez to bowl in the PSL which will be played in UAE, not too far away from the ICC headquarters in Dubai.

Coming back to my issue with the nature of the ban, if the ICC have banned him from bowling then they should also instruct the PCB to stop him from bowling too. If that doesn’t happen, as seems to be the case in their statement, then there is no shame or harm in Hafeez continuing to bowl in the PSL or any other local tournament. Given that he has played and served Pakistan cricket for more than 14 years, and if ICC have no objection to him bowling in domestic tournaments, Hafeez now has a chance to correct his action, once again. If the world’s cricket governing body is allowing it, then Hafeez should make use of this chance and fix his problems and no one should have any misgivings about this at all.