Babar Azam is the captain but we have two players who are almost 40 years old: Ramiz Raja slams 'directionless' Pakistan

Ramiz Raja wants Pakistan cricket to look beyond senior players in the T20 format
Ramiz Raja wants Pakistan cricket to look beyond senior players in the T20 format
Kartik Iyer

Former Pakistan opener Ramiz Raja has opined that the country's cricket seems to be directionless, as they are not able to decide if they want to rely on youth or go with experienced players.

He reasoned that while Pakistan have made Babar Azam their captain in the T20 format, they are still persisting with a couple of aged players in their team.

Ramiz Raja made these observations while responding to queries from Sawera Pasha on the YouTube show Cric Cast.

Ramiz Raja was asked that while big teams like England and Australia seem to be planning ahead for the World T20, that doesn't seem to be the case with Pakistan. He responded that the Pakistan team needs to learn from them and try various possible combinations.

"I feel teams are fine-tuning their combination and Pakistan needs to learn. I am still saying that unless you see the combinations from all angles, it will not be a wholesome exercise for the World Cup."

The 58-year-old observed that while England and Australia are still experimenting with their squads, Pakistan seem to be very impatient and want to find the winning combination immediately.

"England and Australia are still in the experimental stage, even though they are well-established sides. But Pakistan is trying as though they want the combination now itself and it will be seen whatever happens after 8 months. They want to make an established unit now itself and just start winning."

Ramiz Raja on the debate surrounding senior players in the Pakistan team

Ramiz Raja observed that Pakistan had won the 1992 World Cup with a young team
Ramiz Raja observed that Pakistan had won the 1992 World Cup with a young team

On being asked if Pakistan cricket is not being able to look past the argument that dropping the seniors might cause anger, Ramiz Raja responded that ruthlessness is required in such scenarios.

He even gave the example of Imran Khan, who had led Pakistan to the 1992 World Cup triumph with a youthful side after getting rid of most of the seniors apart from Javed Miandad.

"I think to get the direction, we need to be ruthless. I remember when Imran Khan had become the leader, he had a net of experienced players surrounding him."
"I don't want to take names, but there were 5-6 players who could have played for one or two years. He got rid of all of them and just kept Javed Miandad and built a young team. We had a very young team in the 1992 World Cup."

Ramiz Raja was further asked if he wanted the system, the captain or the coach to be ruthless. He reiterated that the ruthlessness is required in team selection, with the focus on blooding youngsters.

"You need to be ruthless first of all in the selection and you should have a proper direction. You need to tell everyone that you are trying new players, even though you may not get the desired results immediately."

Ramiz Raja added that there should not be any favouritism in team selection due to past friendships, with performance being the only criterion.

"The second thing is that you need to keep the friendships aside, people you have played together with. Selection should be only performance-based. I feel at times we think only about the present in just trying to win and don't focus on the future."

Ramiz Raja lamented the lack of clarity of thought, with the young Babar Azam as the captain but Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik still in the playing XI.

"And there is a hotchpotch situation, on one side side we have made Babar Azam the captain and the on other side we have picked two individuals who are almost 40 years old. So, I am not understanding what direction we are trying to take."

Ramiz Raja acknowledged that Mohammad Hafeez has performed exceptionally well but maintained that pressure would build on him eventually. He added that Pakistan have not groomed anyone to take his place.

"I agree Hafeez had an outstanding, I would say honeymoon period and if he serves Pakistan like this then no one would have any problem. But pressure would get created on him eventually and if we don't prepare his replacement, then you will again appear reluctant in blooding youth."

Mohammad Hafeez had an outstanding T20 series against England, scoring 155 runs in just the two innings he played. Shoaib Malik, on the contrary, could only contribute 14 runs in the solitary knock he played on the tour.

Edited by Sai Krishna
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