Why is Pakistan not able to produce world-class cricketers that once wreaked havoc on oppositions? What's gone wrong? Well, the answer is batsmen without attitude and bowlers with neither the sheer speed to terrify oppositions into submission nor the ability to evolve methods that would change world cricket forever.
Reverse-swing was a byproduct of the Sarfraz-Imran think tank. Be it Mohammed Haneef, who wore you down with patience, or the superb defense of Javed Miandad, that just tore you apart with his devastating batting, or the attitude of Majid Khan, who stood in one place and hammered you all over the place, or an Imran Khan, who just froze your mind as an opponent with his devastating bowling and amazing captaincy and leadership -- such players and such attitude no longer exist in Pakistan. All the players mentioned above thought and lived Cricket. They felt its every pulse. They worshipped the game. I think this is missing today in Pakistan cricket.
I also feel it has a lot to do with the system not accepting that there is the need for change, as Cricket certainly has turned around on its head, and the fact that this paves the path forward for systems to transform and shift gears as per the demands of the game is what never happened in Pakistan. As far as bowlers go, they no longer have Pakistani seamers, post Imran Khan’s captaincy, who use their head.
With the evolution of protective gear and with wickets becoming 'dead' batting tracks or losing their character altogether in order to sustain big scoring matches that would make the game more exciting to the viewing public and make it last its entire duration -- an essential requisite for sponsors to put in money -- the seamers had to bring in variation and deception to get wickets.
Speed was no longer a threat to the batsmen. Actually speed sans variation worked against them as the batsmen devised all kinds of shots using the extra pace, amazing protection and high-quality bats to take apart a mere speedster. Whose fault is it that the bowlers are unable to perform as per the needs of today's Cricket or that the system did not evolve? I guess only dinosaurs in the PCB can be blamed, for their stubbornness and for not moving with the times.
Indian batsmen defined the transition that took place in Cricket
Gavaskar to Tendulkar to Kohli is one hell of a journey and it certainly would not have been possible had the system not accepted that throwing out old techniques and allowing new to flourish was the call of the day. Changing and evolving technique can be seen if one were to play a clip of all the three batsmen together. It would take one hell of a coach not to try and change young teenager Virat’s grip when he was still learning the tricks of the trade, because viewed from old-school technique it was wrong but, as it turns out, the need of the hour for present-day Cricket.
Allowing that grip to continue is what led to the birth of one of the most feared batsman in the world. The fact is that Virat’s grip is what delivers that extra power that he has at his disposal. And he uses this at will to pierce the field or go over it. He is far more unorthodox than Tendulkar. The credit of his evolution into the greatest batsmen in the world has to go to his coach, DDCA and BCCI.
An atmosphere was created that allowed players to experiment. Also, the fact that the system was throwing up so many players was crucial to find a Kohli. The same holds good for our bowlers. Today we are a fearsome bowling force and have the ability to chop and change our bowlers at will. We have the extra bench strength that is needed to replace injury. This too has happened because the system worked extra hard at understanding what was needed and got bowlers to not only become stronger but use their brains.
PCB is just not throwing in the money nor the numbers. They are not evolving. They are stuck in the age of the purist and have sadly been left far behind. If they win a game now its more because of the unpredictability of the game then the greatness of their team.
A Mohammed Haneef evolved into a Javed. A Javed Miandad into a Saleem Malik and Inzamam. Post that, coming into the 1990’s when cricket actually metamorphosed, the system went slack. Also, the fact that PCB is always cash-strapped restricts their reach. There is only so much that they can do and not more, especially at a time when every other country is putting in loads of money into the system, Pakistan had to do the same. They didn’t.
Add to this a lack of fervour in their approach and you have a team that just does not have the backbone to dictate to international cricket. The fearsome zeal, passion and commitment that was displayed by the Pakistani team under Imran Khan has gone. Why this has happened is something that I have absolutely no answer to. Have the people lost faith in their country? Do they think Pakistan is a joke? Or maybe they just don’t have the fire power to have the attitude of old.
Whatever be the reason, blaming the present Pakistani players would be unfair. They just are not good enough as the system is not throwing up the quality that is needed at this level. This is very apparent especially against India where not only do our players feel special when they play for our country but they have the attitude of winners. They have the firepower both in batting and bowling to push any team in the world on the back foot.