Pakistan's new ODI team - Part 1
Pakistan needs a new ODI team, and it needs one now.
All talk of the Champions Trophy being an important tournament and that major changes should not be made before it, but after it, is all bull.
This can’t go on.
It should be a criminal offence to keep players like Nasir Jamshed, Umar Akmal, and Asad Shafiq on the bench. Nasir played the first 3 ODIs, Asad played only the first, and Umar played none!
Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik have to go
There is absolutely no way that Misbah or Whatmore or anyone within the PCB and team management can justify the exclusion of these players while Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik continue to enjoy a “no questions asked” run in ODIs for Pakistan.
Umar Akmal is currently Pakistan’s top ranked ODI batsman and the only Pakistan batsman in the Top 20 of the ICC Rankings. Yet, he fails to find a place in the team.
In his last 20 ODI innings, Umar Akmal has scored 618 runs at an average of 36.35 with 7 fifties.
How does anyone with that sort of record in the last year find himself out of the team?
Compare that to the last 20 ODI innings of Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik and one can’t help but curse Misbah and Whatmore for keeping Pakistan’s future on the bench and playing players who are well past their prime in ODI cricket.
Younis Khan: 420 runs at an average of 22.11 with 3 fifties.
Shoaib Malik: 318 runs at an average of 18.70 with 0 fifties.
Moreover, the problem with both Younis and Malik is not a recent one, which is why it pisses me off even more to see them part of Pakistan’s ODI set up.
Younis has never been a good ODI player. His Test credentials are unmatchable, but as number 3 in ODIs for Pakistan, he has largely been a failure. A career average of 31 and only 6 centuries in over 250 ODIs for your country while batting at number 3 does no justice to a player of Younis’ caliber.
I reckon he should have left ODIs a long time ago. Or should have been asked to leave.
Malik’s is a different story. He has just not been the player that he used to be. Once an amazing ODI batsman for Pakistan, he seems to have lost the plot.
The last time Shoaib Malik scored anything more than 40 was his 128 against India in September 2009. That is his only fifty plus score in the past 3.5 years, and since then, Malik has been an utter failure and deserves to be dumped into oblivion.
Misbah Ul Haq needs to move on as well
There is no doubt that Misbah has done a great job captaining Pakistan since the time he took over in 2010 right after the spot fixing scandal. However, this great job has been done in Test cricket.
It was a regressive step to make Misbah captain of the ODI and T20 team and take the reigns away from Afridi and it has been a regressive period for Pakistan’s ODI team ever since.
I would be the first one to agree that Misbah has played a tremendous role anchoring innings after innings in ODIs while wickets fall around him. However, he is not good for the ODI team. We need young and fresh legs, we need our future batsmen to be playing more ODIs, and we need to build a team that can be competitive in 2015 because no matter how hard Misbah tries, there is no way he will be playing a World Cup at 41!
Even if he was winning ODI after ODI for Pakistan, I would strip him off the ODI captaincy just for keeping talent like Umar, Asad, and Nasir on the bench.
Shahid Afridi‘s time is also over
I have been Afridi’s biggest supporter over the past decade and it is very hard for me to say this but his time is also over. I have always believed that Afridi, first and foremost, is a bowler; and whatever he does with the bat should be considered a bonus.
And his bowling is nowhere close to the level it used to be at a year ago. He has lost his magic charm and his ability to pick wickets regularly. He was the best bowler in ODIs in the world for 5 years, but he no longer is.
I do not want to speculate the reasons why, but its obvious that age is catching up and he doesn’t pose any threat to international batsmen any more. And he surely can’t continue playing as a batsman.
He found batting form during this series against South Africa, but that’s enough to keep him in the team.
I know it will break millions of hearts to see Afridi leave the game, but I guess he can continue entertaining us in Pakistan colors in T20s and in the various T20 leagues around the world.
I fail to understand how Gul has managed to play for Pakistan for a decade! He is at best a super T20 bowler, but in ODIs, and even in Tests, he has barely delivered.
Kamran Akmal is probably the most debatable out of all the players mentioned given that he is finally finding some batting form, but Pakistan have also stuck with him for much longer than they should have.
It is time to find and groom a new wicket keeper who is also an effective batsman. Or a good batsman who is also an effective wicket keeper.
Imran Farhat is pretty useless and has hardly looked like an international opener, yet he is another player who has been around for over a decade for no reason at all. Yes he scored 93 but he tried his best to get out multiple times during that innings; he also consumed 140 odd deliveries and no it wasn’t a test match!
With openers like Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad around, Imran Farhat should be no where close to the squad, let alone the XI.
In the next part, I will discuss the players who can potentially replace these over-the-hill-cricketers in ODIs for Pakistan.