Pakistan’s Domestic Cricket 

Everything related to Pakistan cricket always has more questions than answers. There are heaps of reasons why Pakistan isn’t producing the players it once did. Why are the ODI and T20 teams way behind the other competitors in the world. Cricket in this region originated even before the formation of Pakistan in 1947. It was introduced by the British during their rule in South Asia.

The Pakistan Cricket Board looks after all official home competitions. The country’s premier cricket tournament was first played in the 1953-54 season to help the selectors pick the squad for Pakistan’s Test voyage through England in 1954.

Quaid-e-Azam Trophy – Pakistan’s first-class cricket tournament – has seen changes in its structure on consistent basis. It has been a contest by just the regional teams in some seasons, by only the departments in some years and by both regions and departments on some occasions. After the completion of the 2009-10 competition, the Pakistan Cricket Board innovated a new format that will see 22 teams split into division one and division two. The Board felt that two divisions would enable the weaker teams to contend with others at a comparative level and would make the process of spotting new talent simpler.

In the 2012-13 period, 14 regional teams were divided into two pools of seven each, with the top four teams from each pool advancing to the Super Eight Stage. The other six played in the plate league. In 2014-15, there were as many as 26 teams – 14 regional and 12 departmental. And now, once again, the PCB has changed the domestic structure with some new teams entering the fray. For the first time, players were selected by each team through a draft system.

It is obvious that Pakistan’s domestic cricket structure has no ability. Where are the bowlers with speeds of over 90 miles an hour and with a bowling average below 23? Where are the batsmen with a batting average of 40 plus and a strike rate of over 90? Where are the spinners with an average of less than 27 an economy rate of below 4? Name me hitters who can make 100 plus runs in last 10 overs.

Then there is the little matter of funds, which prompts a lower standard of polished methodology. That is the reason why Pakistan remains, perhaps, the only team in which majority of players’ development – particularly in fielding – needs to be on par with the national team. It clearly shows the whole picture of our domestic cricket. The condition of the pitches is terrible, which leads to batting collapses. It produces bowlers who depend on the condition of the ball and the overall conditions to bail them out.

The figures from last season’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy may give an undeniable representation of the issue our home cricket is facing. If we compare, the par first-innings score in the 2016 County Championship in England was 334, with just 28% of scores falling under 250; in the 2015-2016 Sheffield Shield in Australia, the par score was 300 (32% under 250). What’s more, if you go back to 1992-93 Patron’s Trophy in Pakistan, the par score was 294 (34% under 250) and if you look at the recent records its alarming that the par score is under 218 (48% under 180).

Over time, this system has delivered quick bowlers who depend on precision and conditions as opposed to speed, batsmen who prevail by blasting it out and getting control over their strokes, and spinners who are utilized for regulation as a rule. Among the main 20 wicket-takers in this current season’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, 16 will never be considered for the national team.

One could call it the Sadaf Hussain problem. Hussain, a left-arm quick bowler, claimed 28 wickets at an average of 23 from seven matches during the last season. Yet the cricket clique thinks he isn’t quick or sufficiently fit for the international level. In this manner we have a system where the best performing players are let down on the grounds that the cricket they play is not up to the international standard.

To state that Pakistan cricket is in crisis would not be an understatement. This decay can be credited to powerless identities consistently named to run the PCB, who rather than make progressive changes, surrender to the ‘weight’ connected to the players and others.

Players came, players resigned; mentors came; mentors went, but certain individuals have been a part of the cricket board for as long as I can remember.

Intikhab Alam, Zakir Khan, Azhar Khan, Haroon Rasheed and Wasim Bari are some of those names who have been with the cricket board for eternity. Under their supervision, Pakistan cricket has suffered for quite a long time and at the same time, they have never been supplanted; rather the cricket load up has given them a few distinct employments. There is no doubt that previous greats have rendered incredible services for Pakistan cricket. But a period comes when you require new thoughts and arrangements. Until and unless substitutions aren’t made in the cricket board, Pakistan cricket will keep on suffering.

It is critical to disperse some of the myths before discussing the issues of home cricket. It is sensibly impractical to nullify departmental cricket, as these areas in Pakistan need subsidizing and earning. Without the departments, cricketers who don’t play for Pakistan will have a hard time. The primary issue of our home cricket, in any case, is not only the structure but also the consistency with which it is changed. For any framework to thrive, one needs to give it time.

The cricket structure in Pakistan has been redone at regular intervals in the previous decade alone. Different significant issues harming local cricket in Pakistan are the nature of pitches and the calendar of the matches. The state of pitches and outfield also do not meet worldwide measures. Quality players will not show up, until these important points are addressed. Or maybe, before redoing the cricket structure, it is essential for the PCB to first enhance the pitch and ground conditions and give its present structure more opportunity to deliver. The domestic cricket structure in Australia has less teams, which results in the enhanced nature of cricket played. Australia has an extremely solid and focused club cricket structure, something that Pakistan needs.

Maybe the most serious issue of Pakistan cricket is the measure of legislative issues associated with our cricket setup. From the choice of players to the arrangement of the officials within the cricket board, each choice has some kind of political inspiration driving it. Choices are not to be taken in light of a legitimate concern for the country or the game. While governmental issues inside the load up and the team have existed since the beginning of Pakistan cricket, it has many a times resulted in its downfall. The best way to expel legislative issues is to acquire legit individuals inside the board – individuals who need Pakistan cricket to advance and who can deal with the weight of the media and take solid choices. At the point when individuals like Rashid Latif were engaged with the selection committee, they used to take solid choices without getting affected by the high ups, coaches or the cricket board officials.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan cricket needs people who can take bold choices and keep the enthusiasm of the country and cricket as their priority.

 by Raja Mohsin Ijaz

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