Tuesday Aug 25, 2020
Pakistan and England's joint battle with weather in the backdrop of a Test series has just ended. Arguably one of the most bizarre and rain-marred sports event in recent memory, the series had few rights and a variety of wrongs.
The rights mostly belonged to England, the wrongs and all its nuances were monopolised by the tourists. Below we offer a few:
The Prince of Pakistan cricket actually finished the series with an average of 48.75, which actually betters his career average (now 45.44) by multiple runs then why is he in this category, you ask?
This was supposed to be the Prince's long awaited coronation. Up until a year or so ago, Babar had a reputation of being a stat-padder. He shed that and now the big question mark on him is his inability to score big.
All the flash and bling and style and cover drives are brilliant, but where are the big triple-figure knocks? Babar, in his five knocks in the series, scored 195 runs, with his highest being a mere 69.
No reputations were enhanced on this tour, which was not the plan.
Young pace battery
Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah's combined age is a little over 37 and their combined bowling average for the England series was a little under 131.
Many would like to give them a pass because of their age but historically speaking all of Pakistan's successful fast bowlers have tasted success on away tours at a very young age. So that arguments doesn't hold. A total of three wickets for Naseem and five for Shaheen is just isn't good enough no matter what age and how young.
They may have a bright future ahead of them but the present, which was in England, was far from ideal. On this evidence and the one from Australia last year, the duo is not ready just yet. The new Wasim and Waqar aren't there just yet.
Shan Masood has that 156, which should give him immunity but what does Abid Ali have? A single half-century in which he was dropped multiple times and a tour average of 27.8 means Imam-ul-Haq will be knocking on the door when the next squad is announced for the Zimbabwe series.
It started as a mild discomfort, turned into an annoyance, became a joke before we all became numb. The rain, the bad light, the wet outfield X infinity is what this series was.
No other sporting event in recent times has been such a source of disappointment from a climatic standpoint. Unfortunately, such is the nature of this sport that not much can be done about it.
But what can be done about it is to have better, more flexible rules to facilitate the sport. When there isn't enough natural light, why not turn on the floodlights and let the play go on? Cricket, even today, even in a pandemic, is a slave of its tradition. This Gurukul-style traditionalism needs to be ditched.
Last, and strategically positioned here for emphasis, is Asad Shafiq. When you get given that treatment after a series that had such a clear failure (weather!), you know you're in trouble.
Asad's personal failures during the series make the Ageas Bowl looks like Sahara desert. Everything pales in comparison.
The Karachiite finished with an average of 13.40 (worse than even Yasir Shah) across five innings, scoring a total of 67 runs, with his best being 29.
The goodwill of that nearly match-winning (but actually in a losing cause) knock in Australia was running on last fumes but it is has now vanished completely.
This might be it for him.