(Op-ed) A simple wrong’un

a simple wrongun

I’ve been watching and following cricket for a while now and almost like every other Pakistan cricket supporter, I take pride in it. People have opinion about certain players and they tend to stick with it no matter what. They’ll keep hating a certain Tuk Tuk and keep praising a Boom Boom when clearly there won’t be any comparison. Supporters of someone piling runs in the domestic cricket and breaking records day in and day out would be in masses but he still won’t get selected. People say what they want to say. They praise what they like and be intolerable with someone who doesn’t agree with them. They have the right to do so. But I think they should have the audacity to accept and praise when an individual they don’t like, performs on the big stage.

I still remember watching a left arm slow bowler bowling in the domestic and almost always thinking, ‘why the hell is he playing cricket, can’t he do something else?’ He’s a regular member of the limited overs side now and is doing pretty damn good for someone who could’ve done something else. I’m sharing this because there’s a reason people like me or someone who just get ups and says something up to an extent that a certain player shouldn’t even be playing, isn’t part of the people who’re up there making the decisions.

But are they still making the right decisions at the right time? Do they have the time and the ‘eye’ to pick someone out of the wilderness? Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. I shouldn’t be commenting on that because the little cricket I played can only be highlighted by the three deliveries I bowled to Imran Nazir in the nets and he didn’t hit me. Can’t say he couldn’t because we all know how bloody good he was. Not to mention how terrible I was at fielding. I would pick M Irfan as a boundary rider and Kamran Akmal as a catcher over myself, each day every day.

A guy who has been playing international cricket for ages couldn’t pick a simple wrong’un from a rookie. Next ball he’s trapped in front. I say a ‘simple wrong’un’ because it’s simple for that rookie. Or maybe he makes it look so simple. Must’ve been a ton of hard work behind making it look that easy. I tried it all my career and more often than not it ended up being a half tracker. I gave up. He didn’t.

Is hard work the only thing which is required in our cricket setup though? Ask that question from the batsman who has the highest average in FC history of our domestic cricket. Ask that from someone who gets up every day and takes wickets for fun. Or may be from a player who tops the fitness charts just because ‘they’ won’t have any other thing to say about him.

 

Maybe you have to be the blue-eyed boy to get selected? Many would say yes. Others would start harping about the cricket structure that ‘doesn’t let the real talent come through’ and we’ll not have many answers at the end of it. My question is that what good would any of this discussion do if I was deprived of watching that wrong’un on that day. But I wasn’t. I also wasn’t deprived of watching an elegant left handed batsman hit inside out to an off spinner in the covers with the voice of good old Danny Morrison saying, ‘..that’s more like it..that is flashy, classy, handsome, you name it, that’s it..’

The little cricket that I’ve followed has made me realize that when picking a player for a team, be it at any level, you have to look a little beyond the simple numbers that are thrown at you. You have to have the ‘eye’ to look beyond a bunch of numbers. The conditions, the match situations, the kind of opponents, the team, the dressing room environment and the list can go on. All these factors must be considered. But most of all is how good a player is at handling pressure at a particular point and is he eager to learn and grow with the passage of time. Does he have that spark to excel at the highest level?

That rookie had that spark. He knew how to carry himself in tough situations. And more than anything else there was somebody who had the ‘eye’ to pick him and give him the opportunity to excel at the highest level. I’m not sure if he had ever made it up to this level if it wasn’t because of this opportunity that he got to prove his mettle. Same goes for the left-handed batsman. I don’t know how much of their time would’ve been wasted in the domestic setup before somebody started saying that they’re not good enough now or age is not on their side anymore. Too many cases to think otherwise.

I’ll be forever thankful to the people who were involved in the career of these young players and giving them the platform that they deserved. May be the credit goes to more than an individual or two but at the end of the day the one who had the ‘eye’ is the one who should be credited the most. The arm chair experts like me can keep their opinions aside.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shoaib Ali

Shoaib Ali
leg spinner who could never really bowl a googly.