Aussie cricketer’s rare 5-0 winning feat
Pakistan Cricket Board’s think tank must be at ‘panic stations’ after the drubbing of their unpredictable wards by the determined Australians, and that too in familiar UAE backyard. True, both sides were depleted, the Down Under squad sorely missing ‘ball-tampering’ penalised stalwarts, Steve Smith and David Warner, and Pakistan mysteriously omitting skipper Sarfraz Ahmad, and ‘resting’ in-form batsman Babar Azam, explosive opener Fakhar Zaman, spinner Shadab Khan and teen speedster Shaheen Afridi. The Aussies, on a well-earned high after surprising hosts India 3-2 in March (from being 0-2 down), deserve full marks for their intense preparation and planning, focus and self-belief, which transmuted into swashbuckling batting and tight bowling, backed by superb fielding. Inspiring captain Aaron Finch, the ‘man of the series’, scored 451 runs at 112.75 (two centuries, two fifties, another record), ‘hitting at everything’ batsman Glen Maxwell (258 runs, with three consecutive half-centuries) and Usman Khawaja, the opener in ‘mid-season form’, all made the Pakistanis look like helpless novices. It was the fifth Australian clean sweep, and their first whitewash since 2003, defying alien conditions, desert heat and gastro bugs. For the reigning champions the ICC World Cup 2019 in England from May 30, beckons invitingly.
The impulsive greenshirts and their befuddled management stare at a glum scenario, as usual. On the slow, flat UAE wickets, the Pakistan spinners and pacers were hopelessly ineffective as Maxwell in particular literally toyed with them, their batsmen played for themselves and not for the team, while the fielding was ‘butter-fingers’ throughout. A flexible game plan based on ‘horses for courses’ was missing too. Bizarrely, Pakistan still lost the fourth ODI by six runs in chasing 277, despite centuries by debutante (at age 31!) Abid Ali and Rizwan Ahmed, another dubious record.
The fault may lie in our cricket ‘stars’, but the PCB, its top-heavy management, selection committee of personal likes-dislikes and head coach, Mickey Arthur, too must bear the blame for the UAE debacle. In this instance, defeat has a hundred fathers. Reportedly, de facto team selection is monopolised by Inzamam-ul-Haq and head coach Mickey Arthur, the latter in effect a ‘nervous watcher’, a team-demoralising, tense personality and control freak, according to former Australian captain Steve Smith.