From Best to Worst: The Pakistan Cricket Team’s Journey Over the Last Few YearsAun Haider |
Pakistan just concluded one of its worst campaigns in the history of the ODI World Cup last night with an embarrassing, one-sided defeat against England, one of the weaker teams in the tournament, which also experienced its worst-ever campaign in the competition’s history. Last night officially marked the end of two months of misery for Pakistan’s cricket players, management, administration, and fans.
Not long ago—precisely two months ago, just before the Asia Cup—Pakistan was rated as one of the most dangerous and favourite teams to lift the coveted World Cup trophy. What exactly went wrong? What could be the reason behind such a sudden downfall? Well, join us as we explore the reasons and try to find out the answers.
Pakistan Cricket was the number one ranked ODI team prior to the Asia Cup and the World Cup but did the rankings truly reflect the standing of the Pakistan cricket team? From the 2019 World Cup to the 2023 Asia Cup, Pakistan played ten ODI series, winning 8 out of these 10 series but losing one to England and one to New Zealand.
Despite the fact that we were rising in the rankings during this period, some technical issues within the team and among the players were apparent. However, it seems no major actions were taken to overcome these problems, as we were perhaps ignoring them due to our exceptional performance in the shorter format. We reached the final of the 2022 T20 World Cup and the 2022 Asia Cup, as well as the semi-final of the 2021 T20 World Cup – a pretty darn good record.
Yet, it’s crucial to recognize that T20 and ODI are entirely different formats; ODIs demand much more in terms of fitness, skill set, planning, and mindset compared to the shorter format.
Even some of the brightest and most experienced cricket minds were rating the Pakistan cricket team very highly, and I was also one of the individuals who believed this team had what it takes to win the World Cup. However, confusing the two formats might be the biggest mistake that we made in the last couple of years. Additionally, I believe the lack of One-Day Internationals (ODIs) is a major reason for this disastrous campaign; Pakistan only played 36 ODIs between the 2019 World Cup and the 2023 World Cup, which is the third least for any full-member team.
In the last couple of months, we’ve witnessed our players transform from the best to the worst, heroes to zeros, pride to embarrassment, and stars to the most hated figures. I suppose this kind of reaction is expected from the fans in this part of the world, and I’m not really surprised. But is that truly the case? Are our players no longer good, considering they were the best just about yesterday?
Yes, some of our players, such as Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi, Shadab Khan, and Haris Rauf, disappointed us big time in this World Cup, but are they not skilled and talented players? Without a doubt, the 15 players who represented us in this World Cup were among our best. The problem doesn’t lie in these players; it lies in our structure. We need to prioritize domestic cricket and implement a proper process for bringing players into the national side.
I personally believe that a Cricket Board plays a crucial role in a team’s performance, especially during tournaments when things go downhill for the players. In such situations, players need someone to look up to, and a cricket board must fulfill that role. However, what PCB did was the complete opposite. They were leaking private chats of the captain on national television, releasing press statements mid-tournament, and directing all the blame towards the captain and the management. The role of PCB has been really poor, from our scheduling to workload management to players’ management; everything was unfortunately disorganized.
Who should we blame for this disastrous campaign? Should it be our bowling, batting, or captaincy? I believe our performance is a collective result of issues in bowling, batting, and captaincy. However, for me, the biggest disappointment of the tournament was our bowling, and they let us down badly.
It’s important to remember that this is not the end, and we should support the men in green. Nonetheless, we’ve been repeating the same mistakes over the decades. Every time, this team finds a way to let its fans down. Pakistan Cricket got a second life in 2017 when they won the Champions Trophy, but with such performances, cricket may lose interest. Pakistan should make a strong comeback in the coming times.