The standard of domestic cricket in Pakistan is declining day by day and this is really alarming in the scenario when Pakistan already is deprived of International Cricket at home. Although the quantity of cricket has been increased, there is a remarkable shortage of players in terms of quality and consistency.
First class cricket had been a milestone for every cricketer
First class cricket had been a milestone for every cricketer playing at the grass root level in the past as it was considered to be a gateway towards International Cricket. Players were selected on the base of their performance in “First Class Matches” and this system produced players like Hanif Muhammad, Zaheer Abbas, Majid Khan, Asif Iqbal, Javed Miandad, Imran Khan, Waseem Bari and many others who served Pakistan Cricket for a number of years.
Comparing the modern Pakistani cricketers with the formers, there seem to be lack of confidence, perfection, consistency, patience and class. Today, various players are naturally talented however they do not stand in the list of Runs-Machine (Zaheer Abbas), the dependable (Javed Miandad), the game changer (Imran Khan), the maestro (Abdul Qadir) and Mr. Perfect (Waseem Bari). Although Pakistan has been blessed with a lot of naturally talented cricketers, they fail to transform their God-gifted skills and abilities into a genuine product. Let’s try to find out the reasons behind all this.
People love to watch their international stars playing live in their home grounds
The first and the foremost reason for the deterioration of domestic cricket is detachment from international cricket in the form of home series. It is a fact that people love to watch their international stars playing live in their home grounds and same is the case with the domestic players as it is always charming and attractive for them to accompany their ideals and learn the useful skills and techniques from them.
Infrastructure is another hindrance in the way of production of accomplished and useful players. Although the regional cricket academies are working for a number of years, these are not properly linked up to provide a batch of talented players to main-stream academies (National Cricket Academy, NCA) where these players can be worked on in terms of technique, temperament, style and broadly speaking for their personal and professional grooming and development.
The criteria of selecting a cricketer for international team has changed with the passage of time. Favoritism has got deeply into the selectors’ minds and this has contributed a lot towards damaging the mindset and hopes of domestic players who have been striving for making their international debut for long. Players playing and performing in domestic cricket are entirely ignored whereas the cricketers with less or even no first class background are selected on the basis of their performance in leagues like PSL and this is really demotivating and discouraging for the hardworking and deserving guys. We have an example of former First Class Cricketer Amir Bashir (late) who could not get a place in Pakistan International Cricket Team even after scoring almost 10000 runs including 16 centuries and 46 half-centuries in his First Class career whereas a larger number of low-profile players represented Pakistan International Cricket in the same era and this really puts a question mark on the selection criteria of PCB.
Another renowned yet victimized player was Hassan Raza who was given an early exposure to test cricket in the age around 15 but later dropped and replaced with below average players. Hassan Raza scored 13949 runs in 232 First Class matches including 36 centuries and 63 half-centuries but sill failed to impress selectors of all times. Peeping into past, the trend of random selection started when Mr. Imran Khan the captain of Pakistan Team, challenged the overall system of PCB and started selecting the players on his personal liking. The trend was later turned into the norms of PCB and is still going on. Mr. Khan could contribute towards refining the things however he preferred self-judgment over the improvement of system.
Another problem that the domestic players normally face is the insecurity of future. Circumstances are so unpredictable and unfavorable that the players get confused on opting cricket as their professional career and many of them quit on the way. Although departments have contributed a lot by giving sponsorship to these talented and deserving players, the new management of PCB is heading towards removing the departmental cricket and this is truly confusing for the domestic cricketers who had been representing the departments in major domestic events.
The situation is really devastating and truly demands for
Changes in the management of PCB with an undisputed and skilled former Cricketer as its head
Revising the selection criteria, making it mandatory for a player to play (and perform) a certain number of First Class Matches to be considered for an international debut
Activating the National Cricket Academy (NCA) with a combination of former cricketers and technical analysts for producing a compiled and complete bunch of players to serve Pakistan Cricket
Linking up the grass-route level to the top level to define the path and destination of cricketers (from school level to National and International Level)
Re-birth of departmental cricket with better and refined solutions