Oh No! Not again! PCB desires to relive the cricket controvercies and match fixing scandals once again. Shoaib Malik, the former team captain, has been cleared to play in the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe. The PCB Integrity committee cleared him and the selection committee immediately selected him in the playing squad for next month’s tour. He was already named in the standly squad waiting to be picked. Malik was under scrutiny by the PCB integrity committee and was not cleared to play for Pakistan due to certain concerns the PCB had regarding some suspicious deposits in his overseas bank account.
Mohsin Khan said that “His name was already in the reserve list of players for the tour and the PCB integrity committee cleared him last week. After discussions with the team management everyone agreed that with his experience the team would be further strengthened.”
We wonder what experience is being refered to here. Is it cricketing experience or some other sort of experience? The PCB integrity committee has said that he has provided evidence that the deposits did not originate from any questionable source or activity.
Shoaib Malik first came into the team as an off spinner taking the place of one of the best, yet ignored, off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. Saqlain was faster than Muralitharan and Shane Warne to reach the 100, 150, 200, 250 wickets landmark. At that pace, he would surely have taken more wickets than Muralitharan but he was forced into early retirement at an age of 27 thanks to new blood, Shoaib Malik. However, Malik later stopped bowling and became a batsmen. Even though he averages around 33 in ODIs and Test matches but he is no Sachin Tendulkar or Muhammad Yusuf. In order to cement his position in the team, some feel that he was involved in some team politics which also earned him the captaincy of the team.
He is also famous for being the captain of the team during the 2007 T20 Worldcup group match between India and Pakistan where the match was a tie and the teams were asked to bowl an over at the wickets. He later said he wasn’t aware of the rule. It was amazing for a captain to be so unprepared and illinformed and above that, come out in public and say that with a sense of pride.
He was also involved in scandal involving delibrately lossing a match in a local tournament in order to prevent Karachi from qualifying. Muhammad Yusuf could possibly be out of the team thanks to Malik and his dirty politics. The players stopped cooperating with the then Captain Muhammad Yusuf during the Australian tour after which Yusuf was dropped. He was also involved in a spat of words with Yusuf through the electronic media.
Malik could still be welcomed to play for Pakistan if he stops playing politics and performs his role in the team as an all-rounder who bowls full 10 overs, but he cannot be included for his batting only. He isn’t the best batsman when it comes to technique and temperament. He could be useful to make 30s or 40s once in a while but he cannot be expected to strengthen the middle order like Inzamam, Yusuf, Yunis, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, or Azhar Ali.
This is what Malik had to say on his inclusion into the team: “I feel that I can play cricket for another six to eight years. I have been training hard and practising with intensity. From 29 onwards, the next six or seven years are the best years for a batsman, where you can apply your experience and what you have learnt. I’m at that stage now. What’s happened is history now, it’s time to move on, look forward.”
“I’m not thinking about captaincy at all,” he said. “I just want to see my name in the starting XI. I am just thinking about playing good cricket and giving 100% in all facets of the game. This time around, I want to ensure that I am more consistent for Pakistan.”
Ofcourse, you are not thinking about captaincy at this stage! You should first try to cement your position in the team making a strong group around you and only then should you start thinking about snatching the captaincy. I just wonder, if the PCB is not tired of the politics already that they have introduced a new candidate for the game. Now, we fans should expect firstly the Afridi row to end and his return to the team as a player, then his return to captaincy somehow getting rid of Misbah ul Haq, then there would be another political uproar which should end with Shoaib Malik back as captain. Thankfully, Yunis Khan is an honourable player and has settled peacefully as a player least interested in captaincy.