Published On: Mon, Mar 2nd, 2015

Pakistan cricket is dying, says Shoaib Akhtar

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ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar said in an interview to the Huffington Post that ‘Pakistan’s cricketing culture is dying’ and ‘it’s a failure of living legends who failed to inspire, including myself’. “Since you know that I am working in India, and every now and then I see Pakistan losing quite badly against India, I get a lot of criticism living in this country, it really boils up my blood,” said Shoaib. “What I really wanted was Misbahul Haq to take a lead. I really think that Misbah can manage if he comes in a one-down position and takes charge of the batting, because I know this is an immature Pakistan batting line-up, which only Misbah can lead. If he takes charge, comes in after the openers and bats till the 30-35th over, when Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi can come in and play the only game they know. Pakistan have three batsmen who don’t know how to defend. I have always maintained that Umar and Sohaib Maqsood are modern day Shahid Afridis. They don’t know how to build the game, but they know how to hit the ball. That was what my criticism was all about. “If Misbah doesn’t do that, I can assure you that the Pakistan team will not go through to the quarterfinals.”

When asked if Pakistan cricket lacks a proper structure which is causing the stagnation he said: “It’s not stagnation, it’s the collapse of the society, of cricketing culture. It’s a failure of Pakistan’s first-class cricket, of its grassroots. It’s a failure of living legends who failed to inspire, including myself. I also blame myself. We failed to inspire youngsters. On top of that, what did not help us was the match fixing phase. After 1995, the Pakistan team was troubled a lot because of match-fixing allegations.” He also clarified that he does not think Misbah is an incompetent captain, but he needs to step forward occasionally. “When I say Misbah can do it, it’s because I have faith in him,” said Shoaib. “I know he’s a brave guy, who can pull it off. Having said that, this is the weakest Pakistan team we have ever seen and it reflects a failure of the administration and the first-class structure.”

When asked how did he survive the whole match-fixing scene, he said “My mother had said: ‘You make a thousand mistakes, but the one mistake you will not make is match fixing. You’re gonna make sure that you stay miles apart from this controversy.’ “I made myself a promise that I am going to stay away, and make sure that no one even speaks a word about me. I wanted to be the people’s champion, to have faith in me, that when I am running in, I’m running for the country, and for the people. Thank god that I came out clean.”

He also talked about Moin Khan’s visit to the casino and suggested that the chief selector should resign. “I think controversy always happens around cricket in recent years. It’s how you handle it,” he said. “We don’t handle it properly. People make mistakes because they are not angels or prophets. People cannot be that careless when they are playing for Pakistan, or when they are in the management. Let’s see what the cricket board decides, my suggestion to Moin Khan would be that he should resign.” In the end, he chose India over Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to win the World Cup. “I really think that Pakistan and Sri-Lanka should make it to the quarterfinals. No disrespect to Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, or Ireland, but I still believe that Pakistan are a good enough team to make it through. They really have to win with a lot of big margins from here. I think South Africa has a chance; they had an off day, but they are contenders. New Zealand and Australia are favourites for sure. The team with all the belief and faith is India.”–Agencies

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