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Cricket committee dissatisfied with team’s performance

LAHORE: The PCB cricket committee headed by its newly appointed chairman Saleem Yousuf has expressed dissatisfaction over the national team’s performance during the last 16 months in a meeting held here on Tuesday. However, it added that another review of the performance will be conducted at the end of the home series against South Africa which is scheduled to start later this month in Karachi.

Head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis also briefed the committee.

“While the PCB Cricket Committee expressed its dissatisfaction on the side’s performances, it acknowledged the fact that the team had competed in the unprecedented and challenging Covid-19 circumstances, which resulted in the absence of a few experienced players that, in turn, contributed towards the overall below-par performances.

PCB body acknowledges Covid-19 challenges

“The PCB Cricket Committee unanimously agreed that the backroom staff needed to provide absolute clarity on their collective strategy and approach so that they could be evaluated and assessed against those objectives at the next meeting,” a PCB press release states.

“The committee also recommended that the PCB should continue to support and back the team management, whilst suggesting that the next performance appraisal be conducted following the home series against South Africa,” it further stated.

Besides the chairman, other members of the committee who attended the meeting were Wasim Akram and Umar Gul (through online), Urooj Mumtaz head of PCB women’s wing, plus two ex-officio members PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan and Director — International Cricket, Zakir Khan.

“The committee analysed and reviewed the performance of the Pakistan men’s national cricket team over the past 16 months during which the side played 10 Tests (won two and lost five), five ODIs (won four) and 17 T20Is (won seven and lost eight).

“Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis also attended the session upon special invitation and provided their feedback and input to the committee. Prior to their participation, newly-appointed chief selector Muhammad Wasim also briefed the committee on his selection policies.

PCB Cricket Committee Chairman Saleem Yousuf said, “The PCB Cricket Committee carried out a holistic but constructive, fact-based and objective review of the Pakistan men’s cricket team in the past 16 months. There is no denying the fact that we all want to see our side ranked amongst the top three or four cricket playing nations and our recent performances do justice with neither those expectations nor the talent we boast.

“Nevertheless, we also need to take into consideration a number of other factors and the committee was of the view that cricket during the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the biggest contributing factors in the side’s dismal performances. The challenges of playing in Covid-19 protocols have not only been faced by the Pakistan men’s national team, but by all the sides presently involved in international cricket and these concerns have been regularly raised by the team coaches and elite cricketers.

“All professional and high-performing athletes require an environment where they can prepare their best for the international stage, which was not the case for the last two tours and most definitely not at the last tour where players had been confined to their rooms for two weeks due to the policies of that particular Covid-free country.

“As a consequence, Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq and Shadab Khan were unavailable for Test selections after Fakhar Zaman had missed the flight on the day of the departure. These big losses affected the team combinations that, in turn, resulted in the side’s overall below-par performance against a side that remained unbeaten in the past two-and-a-half years.

“Notwithstanding these disadvantages, the PCB Cricket Committee strongly believes team selections and choice of players in the playing line-ups should have been made better. The committee also believes more scientific and data-based work needed to be done on the players with improved communication to not only prepare them for the bigger challenges but by also identifying players who can back their performances with other capability trades in a high-competitive environment on a consistent basis.

“With the important home series against South Africa only two weeks away, the PCB Cricket Committee will conduct another review after the conclusion of the same. However, it has already been relayed to the team management that there will be no points for second place.”

Zakir Khan, Director — International, upd­ated the PCB Cricket Committee on the Pak­istan men’s cricket team’s commitments in the 2021 calendar year, which will commence with the home series against South Africa.

Zakir Khan informed the committee that all arrangements have been put in place for the befitting delivery of the series under difficult and challenging bio-secure environment. The committee was informed fans will not be allowed inside the venue due to government restrictions.

Apart from the series against South Africa, other events in the 2021 calendar year include Pakistan tour to South Africa, Zimb­abwe, England, West Indies and Afghanistan, and home series against New Zealand, England and the West Indies with the Asia Cup T20 and ICC T20 World Cup scheduled in the second and last quarters of the year.

The PCB Cricket Committee complimented the women’s wing for arranging and scheduling international series against South Africa and England.

PCB General Manager — Domestic Cricket, Junaid Zia, gave a presentation on the National High Performance Centre and PCB domestic season 2020-21. He briefed the panel that 255 domestic contracted players featured in 185 matches of eight events between September 30, 2020 and January 5, 2021, with the Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament currently under progress in Karachi. It was also informed that 3,750 Covid-19 testing were conducted.

The Committee recommended that the High Performance department needed to continue to focus on improving the standard of umpiring, pitches and other player facilities. The Committee also suggested similar brand cricket balls should be applied across all events and formats so that the gap between first and second XI sides and the players can be further reduced.

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