Cricket was meant to ensure that the match-fixing allegations of the previous week could be forgotten for the time it was being played. Unfortunately, a listless Pakistan was trampled over by England in the two match series. It was a performance that asked many more questions than it provided solutions.
It was a series that Pakistan could well forget like a bad dream. The body language looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but in the UK and despite the brave face put up by Shahid Afridi at most of the pre and post-match press conferences, the sinking feeling was very perceivable.
Two T20Is after the cricket’s biggest match-fixing scandal broke out, Pakistan had continued to struggle with the bat, and as a result of that, had lost the T20I series 0-2 to England.
As a cricket fan who survived through the match-fixing scandal of 2000 when Hansie Cronje accepted that he had indeed got corrupt, the no-ball row that was kicked at the Lord’s Test match between England and Pakistan comes as a sickening blow. It makes me frail and weak, and another push may extinguish that excitement that cricket always brought to me.
The match-fixing controversy makes it difficult to make out the chaff from the wheat. This is why, Pakistan’s loss to England does sow the seeds to distrust and questions. Is the side playing it clean or are there players who had still indulged in the spot-fixing? After all, on a track that looked decent to bat on, the Pakistanis batted like novices out to impress their girl-friends on the first date. Some catches were put down, while the fielding was, at best, appalling.
If one assumed, for the sake of discussion, that the games were squeaky clean, then, it must be said that the Pakistanis seemed to have lost it in their minds. If the first match saw them get to 125 and lose it from there, the second T20I had it worse. None of the batsmen scored more than 17 and not one looked like batting was their primary profession either.
For England, it had only needed the bowlers to turn out and roll their arms over and the wickets came to them. Or so it seemed anyway. In the first match, it was the spinning duo of Michael Yardy and Graeme Swann who put the brakes on scoring on the clueless Pakistani middle-order. So, Pakistan looked to have decided to take on the quick bowlers at the start of the second T20I and only managed to gift their wickets away to the short ball. Five of the Pakistani batsmen were dismissed to the bouncer and the result was a paltry 89 all out.
Renowned English commentator, Nasser Hussain summed the situation up well. He remarked that the Pakistani side had not turned up at all – they had been exposed mentally. The batting wasn’t there – this was their fourth sub-100 total on tour – and the fielding standards had fallen so drastically that it was difficult to call them an international side. The incidents of the previous week had rattled them completed, and one got the feeling that it would have served them a greater purpose had they ended the tour after the Tests – as had been spoken about in the media.
For now, the tour will go on and will see the five ODIs played. However, the warning signs do not come any fatter – there weren’t too many spectators in the stands, to watch the double-header at Cardiff, and the ones who were there were bunch that had this to say, “We were there because we had bought the tickets months ago.” Says it all, I say.
About the Author
Written by Suneer Chowdhary
A cricket-aspirant at the age of 12, tried my hand at pace bowling, but those were the days of India aspiring for spinners! So, chose the next best option to profess my love towards cricket; became a cricket writer instead