Pakistan winning the World Cup and all that
Pakistan has had an abysmal run-up to this World Cup, no need to throw up a win-loss ratio. Controversy over team selection with players being shifted as frequently as PCB chairman’s a year ago, a captaincy feud (fueled by the media, or the players involved themselves, we might never know), banned off-spinners, discovering how not to interact on social media and the lack of fitness. All of this occurring in barely five months collectively. The last time Pakistan won an ODI series was in 2013.
The most amazing thing though, is that Pakistan actually has a chance, albeit slightly less than other teams, of winning the whole event. This comes despite the managerial farrago, lack of basic administrative skills (the Pentangular Cup was held in the opening week of 2015, rather than in September 2014, as originally announced, to finalize the World Cup squad) and the fact that 15 players out of hundreds could not be found adequately fit and capable enough of playing a tournament held every four years.
The thing that really stings though, and I might be getting sidetracked here, is the lack of fitness. Injuries are part and parcel of the game, you can’t really help it. However, training camps have come and gone, players have posted pictures of themselves working out and professional trainers have been called upon, yet to no avail. Two from the original 15-member squad announced for the World Cup, a bit more than a month ago, have had replacements flown in. News of others being ‘found’ unfit (as if the fitness was a lost sock) has been rife.
Despite all reasons, Pakistan doesn’t deserve to go through to the knockout stage, the reality is that they are confirmed one. The West Indies, perhaps even more mediocre, has been a reserved one as well, unless they play absolutely hapless cricket and get beaten by minnows. The tournament is far too predictable. After reaching the quarter-final, it’s just a matter of winning 3 matches in a row. Easier said than done, but the plain truth still.
The semi-final finish in the last edition did us no favours. Had there actually been solid wins against world class oppositions (Australia was the solitary), would there have been a consolidation of positives and chucking out of the let-downs. If Pakistan had been knocked out of the group stage, a major revamp would have taken place. The semi-final, it should be agreed, was a cosmetic measure. It didn’t really show the true face of the team and its system.
Last year, Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup. England, Italy and shockingly, Spain, were eliminated in the group stage. Those three countries run the most watched football leagues in the world, still global viewership didn’t drop a bit. Their cricketing equivalents might be perhaps, England itself, Australia and India. Imagine those three getting knocked out from the group stage, there’s no way of sugarcoating this, the World Cup would officially be a bust. Cricket does not have the global appeal which football has, and perhaps never will.
ICC tournaments, especially the World Cup, do not need entirely cut-throat formats, just one’s that don’t let bad teams win. Pakistan is a bad team. The fact that it can win, is disgusting. Pakistan winning the World Cup is, to teams like Australia and South Africa, a far worse feeling than a student that has studied weeks before the exams losing out on a distinction, than a student who just started a few days ago. The fact of the matter is that you have to be good on the day that matters, and Pakistan is sometimes really good on that day, often brilliant. However, if you’re terrible most days, do you really even deserve that opportunity? In the 2015 World Cup, you do.