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Babar Azam must be thanking his stars that Pakistan Cricket Home Season has finally come to an end. It all started with a loss to Australia in the Test Series. This was then followed by a spanking by the English in the ODI Series and the Three Match Test Series which ended in a 3 – 0 Whitewash. It was then time for the Kiwis to come on Asian soil and improve their statistics. After a closely fought Draw in the Test Series, they were able to grab the ODI Series against Pakistan 2 – 1.

As per the Pakistani Captain, Babar Azam, the Pakistani’s ‘Definitely Dominated’ the Matches against the Aussies, English, and the Kiwis. While the entire cricketing community is shocked at the deterioration of the Pakistani Cricket Team in Tests and ODIs, the Players and the Management themselves seem clueless and without any recovery plans.

Babar Azam’s Poor Leadership Skills

Babar Azam may be a genius when he holds the willow, but he seems confused and disoriented when it come to making crucial decisions on the field. He behaves arrogantly with the reporters in the press conferences when he is asked pointed questions. Rudeness is stemming out of embarrassment due to a poor run on the field.

If the pressure is turned on in the field by the opposition, Babar often goes into a shell. The bowling changes are not done on time, DRS is not availed properly, and the batting order of players is not set according to situation. It often feels like Babar is handed over a plan of a match by the think tank and he sticks to that very plan irrespective of how the game proceeds. There is no innovation in the game, and everything proceeds as per a script. Babar Azam does not look like a leader but a batter who is desperately clinging on to captaincy.

Several instances of Babar Azam’s indiscipline came to light in the Test matches against England. During the Pakistan Cricket Home Season Babar apparently got involved in a scuffle with the Security Guard in the team hotel on match day. The guard refused to let him go out late night due to safety issues. Babar was so put off at being stopped that he decided to protest by not coming on to the field for the match for an hour the next day. It sounded like a baby whose favourite toy had been snatched from him, not like a World Class batter and the Captain of the national cricket team.

Preferential Selection of the National Squad

The Pakistani and Indian Boards are often marred by preferential selection of squads and the Playing 11. Whether it may be Rohan Gavaskar or Stuart Binny, India has included such players in their International Squads who do not even deserve a place in their local clubs. The same goes for Pakistan Cricket Team. Anyone who is a relative or is influential will get a place over those who come through merit. Also, those who are friends with the captain, or the team management will find a secure place in the team. Performers of the past are treated with disrespect and are left with bringing drinks on the field for the players. Confidence is broken and real grassroot talent shies away from dreams of breaking into the National Squad.

Upheaval in the PCB Management

The Pakistan Cricket Board is run by the Government of Pakistan. The Prime Minister is the Patron of the Board, and he has the power to make changes as per his will. When Imran Khan was the Prime Minister, he got in Ramiz Raja as the Chairman, who ran the Board for about a year and a half. Even though Ramiz Raja was successful in getting the big teams like Australia, England, and New Zealand back in Pakistan to play, he was not able to improve his pitches, grounds, infrastructure, domestic circuit, and a whole lot of other issues facing Pakistani Cricket.

In fact, he wasted a lot of money on organizing Junior Premiere League, which yielded very little dividend for the country. He was recently replaced by Mr. Najam Sethi, who is a political journalist and the Ex-Chairman of PCB. With this regime change comes a new mindset. The players have become insecure of their place in the team which have led to a drastic fall in their performances.

Inexperienced Coaching Staff

When your Head Coach comes to a press conference and says something like ‘Qudrat Ka Nizaam’ working for or against the team, you know that there is something seriously wrong with the thinking, mindset, and approach of the team. This became one of the most popular saying at the World Cup T20 in Australia and followed Pakistan wherever it went. Saqlain Mushtaq was severely criticized by his own countrymen for mingling religion with sport.

In another instance, during the Pakistan Cricket Home Season, Mohammed Yousuf, the batting coach of the Pakistan Cricket Team was questioned on Rizwan’s dipping form to which he replied that it was not his domain. If the batting coach has no say on those who are letting the team down continuously, then it is sure to have far reaching consequences. It is not easy to decipher that Pakistan needs a hard-hammer foreigner as a coach who can discipline the team and take difficult decisions.

Statpadders in the Team

Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan have often been labelled as statpadders. Their dominance in the ICC ODI and T20 Ranking due to their prolific runs is for all to see. However, these runs are often made in lost causes. This is the reason why Pakistan is at Number 5 in ODIs and Number 7 in Tests. The runs made by these two high ranked batters have no use for the team as they keep losing one series after another. Some may argue that if you remove these two from the equation then the team would altogether collapse. While the skill, patience and technique of Babar Azam is much appreciated, his strike rate and selfish scoring comes under well-deserved criticism.

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Lack of Bench Strength

When Imran Khan took over the reigns of the Pakistan Cricket Board, he closed the system of Departmental Cricket and reduced it to only 6 Domestic Teams. Unfortunately, this move severely dented the talent pool which was being groomed at the lower level. People lost their jobs and skilled cricketers were reduced to becoming delivery boys across the country. As a result, there were limited players which were coming through the ranks. The result of this was felt a few years later when the main fast bowlers were injured, and Ramiz Raja admitted that there were no backups. The shutting down of department cricket has severely marred the bench strength of the players.

Those who are lucky enough to have connections get to play in the National side. They play without fearing the loss of their place in the side as they know that there are no better replacements. This has led to complacency and spots being taken for granted. The new regime under Mr. Najam Sethi has restarted domestic cricket, but it will be a long while before the talent builds up again to provide adequate bench strength.

Insipid Bowling Lineup

Pakistan was once known as a hunting ground for their fast bowlers. Names like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis pops up whenever one reminisces about the deadly Pakistani bowling line up. However, in recent times, Shaheen Shah Afridi is the lone warrior who is carrying this mantle on his shoulders. Whenever he is left out due to an injury, the entire Pakistani bowling line up looks like a school cricket team. Even though Naseem Shah and Harris Rauf have shown potential, they need to work on their fitness levels if they want to become regular members of the Playing 11. The insipid bowling with limited backups is hurting Pakistan to unimaginable degrees.

Dead Pitches for Improving Statistics

In recent times Pakistan has been severely criticized for preparing flat tracks which favour their batsmen. Ex-Chairman of PCB openly said on a platform ‘Don’t you want to see Babar Azam make a Century?’ It clearly shows the mindset of the Pakistan Cricket Team Management that they are more inclined that their star performers stay on top of ICC Ranking by scoring huge number of runs. It does not really matter if they come in a winning cause or not.

As a result, the pitches are dead and are often referred to as ‘Roads’. Several commentators have pointed out this flaw openly on television and have called out the Captain and PCB for allowing this to happen time and again. Since the visiting teams are aware of this as well, they pack their teams with technically sound batsmen who go on to score multiple hundreds in a Series, thereby squashing any opportunity for the home team to take advantage.

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The Pakistan Cricket Home Season has come to a dismal end, and it will be none other than the Pakistani fans who will be relieved to see the players take a break after such a pathetic performance.

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