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  1. #1
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    "Time to dispense with bits-and-pieces players" : Aamir Sohail

    In his latest exclusive blog for PakPassion.net, Aamir Sohail writes about his impressions of Pakistan’s disappointing Asia Cup campaign, explains why Pakistan must move away from selecting bits-and-pieces players, why Sarfaraz Ahmed should continue as captain and the strange thinking which lead to the inclusion of Mohammad Hafeez in the Pakistan Test squad to face Australia.




    Pakistan got their team combination horribly wrong during the Asia Cup

    Like many others who saw Pakistan fail in the most inexplicable manner, I too was disappointed at how things turned out for them in this Asia Cup. If one were to look for reasons, I would say that Pakistan got their team combination horribly wrong during the Asia Cup. It seemed that Pakistan seemed to be betting on the wrong horses for this race and our planning wasn’t based on sound future planning. The proof of that failure to plan ahead was in the manner in which the team management had to make hurried changes during the tournament when confronted with pressure.


    Inability to judge the strengths and weaknesses of our players cost us dearly

    Whilst it is true that victory and defeat are part and parcel of the game, what really shocked me was that the Pakistan team management seemed incapable of judging the strengths and weaknesses of their own players. They had no clarity on what their players could bring to the table which would benefit the team, and this is why we saw some confused team choices, and the results were there for all to see. If one wishes to be a good captain or Head Coach of a team, then knowing the capabilities of your players is very important. Take for example Pakistan’s all-important game against Bangladesh. In this match, for some strange reason, we moved Asif Ali down the order who had been included in the team purely for his batting skills. Instead, Shadab Khan was sent in ahead of him which to me demonstrates a distinct lack of knowledge about the strengths of your players. To be frank, such decisions by the team management looked like shots in the dark in the hope that something good could magically come out of them. I don’t want to be too negative about the whole episode, but to me it would be a tragedy if the team management does not learn their lessons from what happened in this tournament. They have to understand how best to use their players and what roles to give to each player. Sarfaraz Ahmed, in particular, has to really work on this aspect of his captaincy and only then can we expect to see better results flow for Pakistan.


    Time to dispense with bits-and-pieces players

    Pakistan seem to have this idea of taking a chance and including players who are bits-and-pieces cricketers, with the hope that they will perform well and win games for us. We have tried so many such players and for so long without any positive results. I feel that this experiment has failed. It is now time to concentrate our energies on picking specialist players who are either, good batsmen or bowlers. We do not now need players who can do part of the job. What we need is a proper bowler or a proper batsman. If we do pick an all-rounder, then he should be able to justify his place in the team as a bowler or a specialist batsman who can bowl as well. Gone should be the days when we should be playing someone as an all-rounder who cannot be classed as a batsman or a specialist bowler.


    The emergence of Shaheen Shah Afridi is truly very uplifting

    Amongst the positives to come out of the Asia Cup, the emergence of Shaheen Shah Afridi is truly very uplifting and I, like many others, feel that this talented bowler has a bright future ahead of him. In addition, Imam-ul-Haq is also a great prospect for Pakistan cricket. He has good attacking shots and has a sound defence as well but there are some corrections to be done to his technique. I feel that if such modifications are made to his batting, he can improve even further and become a much better player.


    Nothing gained from curbing Fakhar Zaman’s aggressive style of batting

    However, whilst it’s great to be happy about the prospects of a cricketer who is starting his international career, it is equally important that we look after some of the newer players who have shown so much promise. I speak about Fakhar Zaman who came to UAE with the backdrop of some really excellent performances such as the one that saw him score a double-hundred in an ODI recently. To force a batsman of such an aggressive temperament to play slow for first 10-15 overs is not right and put extra pressure on him during the Asia Cup, with some disappointing results. Of course, he will not always succeed when he plays aggressively and takes chances but then that is what he is there for and that is exactly why we are playing him in the team. If Fakhar fails, then we should have another batsman at the number 3 position who should stabilise the situation which is his job.


    Usman Khan Shinwari’s predictability in the UAE was his downfall

    There was a lot of criticism directed at the captain and Head Coach for their reluctance to include Junaid Khan in the team when things weren’t going that well for Pakistan. He was eventually brought in but a little bit too late. Whilst it's easy to look for sinister motives behind ignoring Junaid from selection, I would put it down to the inability of the team management to judge which players can actually perform in the prevailing conditions. Mohammad Amir appeared ineffective during this tournament as he was unable to swing the ball and so he was rightly replaced by Shaheen Shah Afridi. However, we also knew that Usman Khan Shinwari with his action would angle the ball outside the off-stump to a right-hand batsman. To bring the ball into the batsman with Shinwari’s action was always going to be difficult and really, the captain and Head Coach should have recognised the fact that this bowler was getting too predictable, and that really was the end of it. If after playing so many games with this team, we still don’t know who is the best player suited for such conditions then we are in big trouble and this sort of approach needs to be remedied as soon as possible.


    Sarfaraz Ahmed needs to be persisted with as captain

    We cannot dump the blame for the recent failures on Sarfaraz Ahmed as the onus is also on the Head Coach and selectors to get our approach right. I am totally against this talk of replacing Sarfaraz Ahmed as this would be unfair and he needs to be given a chance. Someone from the Pakistan think-tank needs to sit him down and explain to him his mistakes during the Asia Cup and also show him how he can improve himself as a captain in the future. He needs to be given help in handling situations when they aren’t going Pakistan’s way and most importantly, he needs to bat at the number 6 or 7 position where I feel he is most effective for his side.


    Selectors must not play to the gallery when taking their decisions

    The Pakistan Test squad currently consists of 18 players which is incredible. Given how players have are being added to it, I am seriously worried that this number could yet rise as well. This is where I will say that Pakistan selectors need to get their approach sorted as they cannot be playing to the gallery when it comes to selection matters. If the selectors have thought through their initial decision, then they should be able to convince all their critics about why they chose the players in the squad in the first place. They should be able to lay out their future plans in detail and remain steadfast if a few hiccups come along the way. They need to ensure that whilst a loss here or there maybe undesirable, the team combination will remain the same as it's based on sound reasoning. And if they can convince others that all their decisions are based upon a long-term plan then people will be happy to give them a chance to prove themselves.


    If Mohammad Hafeez was so important to the Test side, why was he not picked in the first place?

    What is happening now is that they are bowing to pressure and including players just to relieve the stress on themselves. Specifically, in the case of Mohammad Hafeez, we were categorically being told that he had no place in the Pakistan side but he has been brought back and is now part of the Test squad. How can this be justified or work? If he was so important to the side and maybe he was after his bowling action was cleared, then he should have been in the original squad in the first place. Once again, I would suggest that the Pakistan selectors need to be clear in their thinking if we are to make progress in the future.


    Pakistan must not allow space for Australia to raise their morale

    Whether Pakistan have the right personnel for the upcoming Test series against Australia is a question that the people who selected the squad need to answer. In my opinion, the only thing we need to concentrate on is the fact that the Australia Test side’s morale is very low due to all sorts of reasons. What we must not do, is to provide them that breathing space to raise themselves which they will do if they are allowed to play well. Pakistan need to deny those moments in the series where they will start to feel confident as when that happens, they will be very hard to beat.
    Last edited by Abdullah719; 3rd October 2018 at 20:10.


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  2. #2
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    Always a treat to read Aamir Sohails articles. He probably is our only former player along with Rashid Lateef who seem to hv some sort of knowledge of our sorry state of affairs otherwise most of our former players on media are absolutely disconnected from the reality of our cricket.

  3. #3
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    All our cricketers are bits and pieces. Gonna have to get rid of entire team.

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    Every team has utility players. This has always been the case in Cricket where teams are full of small time all-rounders. Many would argue Aamir was one himself!! As much as I would love to see it's not possible to have a team full of world class players.


    PP's own self proclaimed sharpshooter and defender of Islam and Pakistan.

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    Aamir was joke of a selector in his tenure.. So I dont take any of his advice seriously... Asia cup was a badly managed tour every one is disapointed but what does he mean by bits n pieces cricketers?? Faheem is a genuine all rounder, so is Shadab (remember he was made to play when he wasnt fully fit) Apart from that every player has a specific role... Though I would like Pakistan to have a stronger Middle order so Opener can play freely Not an opener like Imam who would like to play safely from first ball. In 90s Pakistan middle order was so strong that openers could play every game freely without havung to loose their wickets and could easily rely on strong middle order to see them through.
    At the moment we have sarafarz Malik and Asif All three are not very reliable middle order players.
    Imam should be pushed to 3 and babar at 4 hafeez at 5 and malik at 6. Asif should only be played in T20 for now


    only fighters rise up from the dust..

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by PakLFC View Post
    Every team has utility players. This has always been the case in Cricket where teams are full of small time all-rounders. Many would argue Aamir was one himself!! As much as I would love to see it's not possible to have a team full of world class players.
    Bits and pieces player is he who is neither a batsman nor a bowler. This kind of player cannot be included as a batsman or a bowler.

    Sohail was a world class batsman who used to bowl a bit.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaankeJi View Post
    Bits and pieces player is he who is neither a batsman nor a bowler. This kind of player cannot be included as a batsman or a bowler.

    Sohail was a world class batsman who used to bowl a bit.
    I hope you said the bold part with a big smile on your face that Sohail was a world class batsman. I prefer calling players like Faheem Ashraf utility ones that every team has since the game began. Don't see many teams playing six expert batsmen, a keeper and four expert bowlers nowadays.


    PP's own self proclaimed sharpshooter and defender of Islam and Pakistan.

  8. #8
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    Aamir Sohail is outdated. You can only play a full blown specialist if he is really good at his primary job i.e. Ajmal for e.g. Otherwise no point in having a specialist if he is inconsistent and cannot do anything else for the team in case he fails.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by todfod 11 View Post
    Aamir was joke of a selector in his tenure.. So I dont take any of his advice seriously... Asia cup was a badly managed tour every one is disapointed but what does he mean by bits n pieces cricketers?? Faheem is a genuine all rounder, so is Shadab (remember he was made to play when he wasnt fully fit) Apart from that every player has a specific role... Though I would like Pakistan to have a stronger Middle order so Opener can play freely Not an opener like Imam who would like to play safely from first ball. In 90s Pakistan middle order was so strong that openers could play every game freely without havung to loose their wickets and could easily rely on strong middle order to see them through.
    At the moment we have sarafarz Malik and Asif All three are not very reliable middle order players.
    Imam should be pushed to 3 and babar at 4 hafeez at 5 and malik at 6. Asif should only be played in T20 for now
    Don't forget debacle of WC 2015, seniors are useless

    Sarfraz, Malik, Hafeez are not good middle order. None of them were ever considered Batsmen, they are forced into this role...If WC was played in UAE, I would take two of these three, but problem is WC is not played in UAE, its in England, where they will be sitting ducks against 145 clicks pace. Over their wickets are flat and true bounce, you needs guys like Fakir, Asif, Faheem to help us score 320+ all the time...Ideally Sharjeel would be excellent choice too...

    There is a reason Micky wanted to get rid of seniors, this UAE style, 230-250 par score cricket Misbah had been playing for 10 years, we were horribly exposed in AUS 2015 WC, with these seniors (which had zero reflexes), we could not score 250, even BD was scoring more than us...We cannot make the same mistake of taking team full of seniors to ENG and struggle to score 250

    Problems is not with stroke makers, its with accumulators

    Pakistan main problem is not with Fakhir, Asif and Faheem who are main stroke makers, they will fire 50% of the time, maybe more on flat pitches...

    Problem really is with Babar, Inam, Sarfraz, Malik types. Because they cannot rotate strike, they play too many dot balls, even on flat pitches. Whatever matches we have won, when Fakhir has fired, before that Sharjeel was scoring at 110SR, others at 60 on the same pitch, as soon as he got out, so was any hope of 300 runs. This is where we loose matches and the reason why we sit on #7/8 in the ranking...

    As I said earlier, Malik, Sarfraz, Hafeez were never batsmen in the first place, they got the top 5 spot because of their seniority, skills wise they were always bits and pieces batsmen. Pakistan is a country who dropped MoYo and picked Afridi, this is the level of Cricketing IQ :

    Also, all this Gaga about Malik on these pitches, will again be short lived, because we have seen that time and again, he cannot play pace, even when he was 15 years younger, now at 37 he will be liability in ENG and opposition knows that. They will not give Malik/Sarfraz/Hafeez spinners, they will play 4 pacers against us, don't forget what happened in NZ earlier in the year, its not that old, we all have forgotten 5-0 in NZ...

    BTW: The reason we have gone so poor at playing against pace, has lot to do with playing in UAE. For last 12 years, Pakistan ODI team has gone down the toilet, thanks to UAE. We will never become a top 2/3 ODI team as long as UAE is our main hub...You cannot develop modern batsmen here, Even if India plays here for 5 years, they will not only loose 30-40 runs but also ability to play pace...Also don't forget that the only reason we won CT, because for most games we don't have to score more than 230, that is not going to happen in WC...


    If you want to do things that are certain to succeed, you are doing very obvious thing - E Musk

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savak View Post
    Aamir Sohail is outdated. You can only play a full blown specialist if he is really good at his primary job i.e. Ajmal for e.g. Otherwise no point in having a specialist if he is inconsistent and cannot do anything else for the team in case he fails.
    His point is that the non specialists have failed


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by yasir View Post
    Don't forget debacle of WC 2015, seniors are useless

    Sarfraz, Malik, Hafeez are not good middle order. None of them were ever considered Batsmen, they are forced into this role...If WC was played in UAE, I would take two of these three, but problem is WC is not played in UAE, its in England, where they will be sitting ducks against 145 clicks pace. Over their wickets are flat and true bounce, you needs guys like Fakir, Asif, Faheem to help us score 320+ all the time...Ideally Sharjeel would be excellent choice too...

    There is a reason Micky wanted to get rid of seniors, this UAE style, 230-250 par score cricket Misbah had been playing for 10 years, we were horribly exposed in AUS 2015 WC, with these seniors (which had zero reflexes), we could not score 250, even BD was scoring more than us...We cannot make the same mistake of taking team full of seniors to ENG and struggle to score 250

    Problems is not with stroke makers, its with accumulators

    Pakistan main problem is not with Fakhir, Asif and Faheem who are main stroke makers, they will fire 50% of the time, maybe more on flat pitches...

    Problem really is with Babar, Inam, Sarfraz, Malik types. Because they cannot rotate strike, they play too many dot balls, even on flat pitches. Whatever matches we have won, when Fakhir has fired, before that Sharjeel was scoring at 110SR, others at 60 on the same pitch, as soon as he got out, so was any hope of 300 runs. This is where we loose matches and the reason why we sit on #7/8 in the ranking...

    As I said earlier, Malik, Sarfraz, Hafeez were never batsmen in the first place, they got the top 5 spot because of their seniority, skills wise they were always bits and pieces batsmen. Pakistan is a country who dropped MoYo and picked Afridi, this is the level of Cricketing IQ :

    Also, all this Gaga about Malik on these pitches, will again be short lived, because we have seen that time and again, he cannot play pace, even when he was 15 years younger, now at 37 he will be liability in ENG and opposition knows that. They will not give Malik/Sarfraz/Hafeez spinners, they will play 4 pacers against us, don't forget what happened in NZ earlier in the year, its not that old, we all have forgotten 5-0 in NZ...

    BTW: The reason we have gone so poor at playing against pace, has lot to do with playing in UAE. For last 12 years, Pakistan ODI team has gone down the toilet, thanks to UAE. We will never become a top 2/3 ODI team as long as UAE is our main hub...You cannot develop modern batsmen here, Even if India plays here for 5 years, they will not only loose 30-40 runs but also ability to play pace...Also don't forget that the only reason we won CT, because for most games we don't have to score more than 230, that is not going to happen in WC...
    I think u did a very good analyse. but what i m saying is we need a strong middle so opener can play freely without having to go in with a mind set of that they need to keep wicket. What happened in 2015 WC is irrelevant now at the moment Hafeez and Malik are performing well Hafeez did perform in england and on NZ tour as well.
    My eleven would be
    Fakhar
    Sharjeel
    Babar
    Imam
    Hafeez
    sarafarz
    faheem
    shadab
    Amir
    hassan
    Junaid


    only fighters rise up from the dust..

  12. #12
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    In a way He is saying the T20 allrounder formula doesnt work in ODI's, but this squad plays well in England, so its a difficult one.

  13. #13
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    All of them are bits and pieces, right Aamir?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    His point is that the non specialists have failed
    I don't really agree with him. If we are to pick specialists, our batting would end at no. 6 which would be very similar to our team of 2015WC. Imagine having Sarfraz at no. 6 and then Hasan Ali, Shinwari, Junaid, Asghar and Shaheen to follow.
    The thing is even our specialists esp batters aren't doing their job. Imam, Malik and Shaheen were the only ones who performed throughout with Junaid impressing in the only game he got.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BunnyRabbit View Post
    I don't really agree with him. If we are to pick specialists, our batting would end at no. 6 which would be very similar to our team of 2015WC. Imagine having Sarfraz at no. 6 and then Hasan Ali, Shinwari, Junaid, Asghar and Shaheen to follow.
    The thing is even our specialists esp batters aren't doing their job. Imam, Malik and Shaheen were the only ones who performed throughout with Junaid impressing in the only game he got.
    6 specialist batsman + wicketkeeper + bowlers is traditional line up.

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    I'll take a specialist bowler or batsmen over a all rounder who doesn't make the team on batting or bowling merit.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaankeJi View Post
    6 specialist batsman + wicketkeeper + bowlers is traditional line up.
    In Tests yes, but most definitely not in LOI's. There is not a single team atm who goes in with 5 specialist bowlers. Most of the teams have their batting stretching down to no 9 or 10

  18. #18
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    Sohail the man who introduced the plague known as hafeez to the team, that we have had to put up with for 15+ years

  19. #19
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    You need couple of batsman in the team who can bowl 4 - 5 overs each in the top 5 ,

    And maybe need number 8 , 9 , 10 to hold bat or hit a few lusty blows.

  20. #20
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    For me
    Sharjeel
    Fakhar
    Imam
    Babar
    Haris sohail
    Sohaib maqsood
    Sarfaraz
    Hassan
    Amir
    Junaid
    Yasir


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