Monday, May 21, 2007

another shoaib post

Here's a well-articulated argument on Five Rupees against Shoaib Akhtar's inclusion in the Pakistan side. Well, far be it from me to shy away from an opportunity for such ripe debate.

I'm not sure I can pick holes in Ahsan's individual arguments per se. In any case, as he says, it's unlikely that either of us will change our opinion. But I can say that I am one of the few remaining Pakistanis who are just not ready to cut the cord. And in this capacity, I have a few points to make:

1. Maybe Shoaib does play 29% of our cricket. But more often than not, when he plays, he delivers. Bear with me while I do a bit of math. If he puts in a great performance 75% of the time he plays, then he delivers on 22% of the days on which Pakistan plays. That is probably more than Razzaq and both our openers put together.

I watch cricket to be excited. To feel it in my gut when a Pakistani shatters an Aussie's stumps, for example. And no bowler, as you mention, has been able to make me feel that more effectively than Shoaib over the past 10 years. If 29 out of every 100 days of cricket I watch is exciting, then so be it. It's better than the tepid half-ass way our team usually plays (the recent two-game streak excluded).

2. Yes, Shoaib is a prima donna. Yes, he has had problems with drugs. And yes he has, for lack of a better word, grown somewhat corpulent over the years. I have made this point before, but to me that sounds a lot like Shane Warne, minus the match-fixing allegations. Besides, isn't it the job of captain and coach to tame stupidity and bring it in line? Perhaps we need to focus on good leadership, rather than hoping for a team that is easy to lead.

3. The unfortunate reality is that none of our current players is about the nuts and bolts of the game. A simple look at our fielding will attest to that. What has plagued Pakistan most since Imran gave up the captaincy is a lack of focus on the nitty gritty of the game, and an over-reliance on talent. We have seen repeatedly with this team that talent can only take you so far. Can any of us say with a straight face that Inzamam was an "athlete"?

4. We may not have issues with his supposed playboy lifestyle, but sadly, (and as much as I am an Inzi fan) I suspect that this is a large part of why Inzamam took offense at his presence. I believe that the team is a perfect microcosm, a scale replica, if you will, of the rest of the country. What we see could be Shoaib taking out his frustrations at this ideological divide. Of course, nobody can be sure, but I do know this much: If I were kicked out of my job because I liked playing Grand Theft Auto in my free time, for example, I would be pretty frustrated too.


Omar said...

so basically you're saying that boning bitches is like playing Grand Theft Auto.


billu said...

i wish... that would solve a lot of my problems.

Ahsan said...

boning bitches?

Ahsan said...

dude, i'm so sorry about not replying to this post, as i said i would. it completely slipped my mind that there was an argument to be had. here are my rebuttals of your points.

1. seriously? you're happy with a player delivering on 22% of the days on which pakistan plays? the razzaq and openers argument is a straw-man one, and i suspect you know it. i think razzaq should be dropped from both the test and ODI teams, and i think we've been playing the wrong openers for, uh, about 14 months now (say it with me: butt and hameed, in both forms. once more with feeling: butt and hameed, in both forms). so saying shoaib is more effective than razzaq and our openers is a little like saying my girlfriend's hotter than queen latifah. the obvious response is: yeah, so what?

you may "watch cricket to be excited". i watch cricket to watch pakistan win. now, that doesnt mean i don't derive an aesthetic pleasure from the game (otherwise i wouldnt watch non-pakistani matches, which is obviously not the case). the point is that aesthetic pleasure without utilatarian payoffs are, in my book, useless. shoaib being around the set up does little for our chances to win games on a consistent basis. this was the point of my argument.

2. your comparison with warne works, but only to an extent, and it misses a HUGE point. that warne is/was obsessed with winning. on the field, he wanted nothing but to win at all times, at all costs. he never undermined captains and he never gave less than 100%. neither of those things can be said about shoaib, whose commitment, as you surely must concede, is questionable at best. the captain and coach can only do so much i'm some point, it's the player's responsibility.

3. again, i only half agree with this point. when i meant when i said imran was an athlete was not his physical prowess per se, but his single mindedness in improving himself as other sportsmen do. and while i would agree not everyone in pakistan (inzi, for one) works as hard as their games as say the aussies do (who're ALWAYS improving their individual games), i think it is incorrect to say "none of our players are about the nuts and bolts of the game." look at shoaib malik, who through sheer training and hard work has made himself a servicable cricketer. what about yk, who went from averaging 35 in his first two years to 60 in his last two? what about moyo, who through a subtle change in his stance (i'm sure you've noticed) and a more still position when the bowler runs in scored 1700 friggin runs? what about asif, who rededicated himself after a bad start in australia and promised woolmer he'd be a great bowler next time he saw him? shoaib's never done any of this.

4. no comment on your fourth point.

oomi said...

i agrees with billu

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