World Cup 2003 : Broken Hearts and Dreams

Pakistan’s sad and yet deserved early exit from the World Cup 2003 was no surprise for me personally.

Pakistan for the past six months had not put up any credible performance in the international arena. Heavy losses to Australia and South Africa were clear indicators of the impending doom. There have been widespread speculations that poor team spirit and lack of resolve were the main contributors to Pakistan’s loss. My views are listed below:

Poor Leadership: My admiration for Waqar Yunus, the bowler runs no end, but as a captain he lacked the killer instincts required to lead a Pakistani team. In the match against Australia when Australia were 90 odd for four, Waqar mysteriously chose to have a dangerous player like Symonds get his eye in against Razzak and Afridi . Even when he started to butcher the bowling, Waqar was more concerned about the over rate then getting him out (bowling part timer Yunus Khan). If this was not enough , the same mistake was repeated against England , when a similar respite was given to the English batsman when they were tottering at hundred odd for five and got 240 runs in the end.

Incorrect match-day team selection: Why was Saleem Elahi, (the top scorer in the match against Namibia previously) dropped against England was mind-boggling. Its so obvious that Afridi struggles against seam bowling attacks specially when the pitch is bouncy , yet he was played as an opener against the likes of Macgrath , Gillespi and Caddick, and guess what he failed. Amazingly when we played the minnows like Holland and Namibia he was dropped, if my memory serves me right the last time Afridi played against Holland he made absolute mockery of there bowling attacks . Saqlain Mustaq, the inventor of the mystery or the “dosra” ball, was overlooked mysteriously. Experts from around the world were astonished to see him left out of the team time and time again. The constant shuffling of the batting order was one of the main reasons why our team never settled in and performed to its true potential. The selection process was as jittery as most of the decisions on the field. The team management is sent along with the team to bolster the moral of the team but unfortunately all they did was do the absolute opposite. Out of form batting line up No one can doubt the quality and consistency of Inzamam and Yusuf for Pakistan over the years. But recently both of these players have been experiencing the most crippling run drought ever in their careers. With such critical players out of touch the batting woes were almost certain to occur. But I would like to re-iterate that the selection should have been done on the basis of match form rather than past performances, Inzamam had not performed all that well in the African tour just prior to the World Cup , but he was never in doubt to be selected for the World Cup . Which is my point , selection should be match form rather than reputation basis.

I am an optimist and I believe in this debacle lays the chance to resurrect the national cricket team and infuse a blend of youth and experience, reminiscent of the one in the World Cup ’92. No one can dispute the fact that Pakistan is fortunate to have wealth of cricketing talent in the country but unfortunately that wealth is never utilized properly. It is because young and upcoming cricketers never get the chance to represent their country because senior place retain their places in the team purely on the basis of past performances and not on current cricketing form.

By Muhammad Babar

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