Pakistan – The home of fast bowling
The soil of Pakistan has always been a package of surprises for the world when it comes to producing intimidating fast bowling attack in international cricket. Considering the poor structure and poorly organised pattern of sports in Pakistan, surviving at the highest level of competitive cricket has earned Green Shirts the status of being “the unpredictable”.
However, this unusual edge is now fading away gradually because of the declining quality of fast bowling which has been playing a pivotal role in keeping Pakistan cricket on the right track.
Drawing the outline of stats from the entire history of Pakistan cricket, one can easily state the bottom line that this country has won more than seventy percent of its fights due to bowling. Thanks to the pace attack that has earned Green Shirts a respectable place in the world as fast bowlers have been astonishing the world with their spectacular performances.
However, history only reveals the stats not the struggle that Pakistan’s fast bowlers have been through. Despite having no organised structure and having not sufficient facilities in domestic cricket, Pakistan not only emerged as a top class team but also became world champions. But the remarkable past is now losing its shine because the unprecedented legacy of fast bowling is slipping away from the hands of the current lot of pacers in Pakistan.
Pakistan has enjoyed the fruits of its unmatched fast bowlers for more than two decades and have won many ICC tournaments, earning it the status of one of the best cricketing nations on the planet. General masses of this country used to idealise the likes of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhter. Then Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Aamir and the intimidatingly tall Muhammad Irfan step forward and continued the legacy in a tremendous fashion.
But pleasant days are not meant to stay forever and some incidents change the whole scenario that can either take teams to the peak or throw them into the bottom. Unfortunately, in Pakistan’s case, the situation became worse when, in 2010, Muhammad Aamir and Muhammad Asif were caught in the most disgraceful incident of match fixing while playing a test match against England on the English soil. The then captain of Pakistan Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir were banned from International and Domestic Cricket for a period of 7 years (5 years for Muhammad Aamir).
At that time, Asif and Aamir were at their peak and were a huge threat for any top batting line in the world. On numerous occasions, the hard to read swinging ability of Asif and the ruthless pace along with swinging capability of Aamir destroyed the top class batsmen of all leading teams. They didn’t make the Pakistani masses feel the absence of Imran, Wasim, Waqar or Shoiab.
But, after the ban imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the pace attack of Pakistan cricket team started facing its worst possible outcome. The selection committee could not decide which bowler will play and who will sit on the bench. The options were so scanty that only Muhammad Irfan could secure his place permanently and there remained a huge shuffling of fast bowlers among the rest of the queue.
Spin bowling has been providing a huge support to the bowling line up of Pakistan, but now Green Shirts have no more the luxury of the likes of Abdul Qadir, Mushtaq Ahmad, Saqlain Mushtaq and the magician Saeed Ajmal. So, the fast bowling now has to deal with things, but unfortunately the Pakistan cricket team now have not that strength in their pace attack.
Muhammad Aamir, who after spending five years away from competitive cricket, is now eligible for playing international cricket. He has proven his mettle in the recent months while playing domestic cricket in Pakistan and county cricket in Bangladesh in the event of Bangladesh Premier League. Though many senior players have reservation and are against his inclusion in the national team but his addition will be beneficial for the Green Shirts as there is not much depth in the bowling lineup. Many important upcoming tournaments including WorldT20 also suggest that Aamir should be in the team especially when Pakistan is going down in the ranking in all three formats of the game.
Pakistan has talent, even abundance of talent especially in smaller areas of the country, but it is dispersed and unorganised. There is not any recruiting system that could identify young talent and there are not enough academies under the wings of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) where players could hone their skills. An improved and result oriented domestic cricketing structure is the need of the day that should not only identify the quick bowlers from all corners of the country but should also provide this talent a direction.
All top cricketing nations like Australia, India, England and now even Bangladesh have a better domestic system where their players find ample opportunities to show their talent and improve their skill set. Pakistan’s cricket is suffering badly at the moment because of many reasons including the poor system and absence of international cricket.
Furthermore, young players fail to get opportunities to display their talent and as a result PCB’s selection committee failed to find bowlers that could fill the void of Imran, Wasim, Waqar and Shoiab who were, are and will remain the real heroes for 190 million people of this cricketing nation.
A strong, organised and monitored system will provide a much-needed support to the declining fast bowling in Pakistan. If things continue in the current fashion, time is not very far when Green Shirts will be among the bottom lined teams and winning any major tournament will become nothing more than a dream for them.
In a country where no other thing but cricket can unite people, it will be really unjust if the rich legacy of fast bowling fades away. It is the right time to take right steps in the right direction and Pakistani supporters will see many young pacers who, in near future, will become game changers like Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib Akhter.