Gone with the rain

Editorial Board
Monday, Jun 17, 2024

The June 14 Florida rains washed out the match between the US and Ireland – and along with that Pakistan’s 2024 T20 World Cup campaign. The match was abandoned without a single ball bowled and both the US and Ireland were awarded a point each, leaving the men in green with no chance of entering the Super 8 or quarter final stage of the tournament. Getting knocked out by wet weather is not how anyone wants to leave a world cup, but the damp Florida weather also served as the perfect metaphor for the performance of the Pakistan cricket team in their brief time at the tournament and how they made their fans feel. With that being said, the rain arguably brought a merciful end to what has been an abysmal campaign. The team impressed with neither bat nor ball and the fielding was accompanied by the dropped catches, particularly in the match against India, that Pakistani cricket fans have come to dread yet expect. Though this is not Pakistan’s first exit at the group stages of a T20 world cup, having done so twice before, the manner of the exit this time is perhaps uniquely disappointing.

Minnows US and Canada handed Pakistan a loss and a much tougher game than expected, respectively. In the defeat to India, the team could not muster a very achievable 120 run target while the bowlers, other than Naseem Shah, were seemingly unable to read the pitch and hit the right length. The latter was a problem throughout the tournament. In the aftermath of the early exit, the PCB reportedly held a late-night meeting and decided to review the central contract. Several players are reported to be on the chopping block and will struggle to maintain their place in the side while others might be demoted with regard to their central contract. How much of an impact this will have in an era where the central contract is not the only revenue stream available to an international cricketer is uncertain. In fact, three players involved in this world cup debacle – Mohammed Amir, Fakhar Zaman and Imad Wasim – have already been signed up by a new Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise for the 2024 edition of the CPL.

The major surgery talked about by the PCB chairman after the loss to India needs to take into account that cricket is no longer a sport played between countries alone and is evolving into the club and league franchise model that we see in sports like football. The main question has to be how a team can perform so poorly in what is its country’s most popular sport. This clearly points to a systematic failure to harness and develop talent. And, as the body that has been organizing and running the sport of cricket in the country for over seven decades, the PCB might also want to hold a late-night huddle about what they themselves are getting wrong. Players come and go, but amidst all the inconsistency and disappointment that Pakistan cricket has delivered to its fans the PCB has been a constant. The surgery must include meaningful reforms at the top.