World Cup

Afghanistan,Bangladesh And The Other Cricketing ‘Minnows’ Can Compete With Worlds Best

Shakib Al Hassan seems like a 'big fish in a small pond' as far as the Bangladesh cricket team is concerned.

Shakib Al Hassan seems like a ‘big fish in a small pond’ as far as the Bangladesh cricket team is concerned.

Cricket has one underlining quality in my eyes – the fact that it can spring up surprises. Bangladesh have surprised the cricketing ‘heavyweights’ in the past as Australia and Pakistan have succumbed to the ‘Tigers’. As much potential as Bangladesh have, their test record has been very disappointing as far as wins are concerned.

The 2-0 test series win over Zimbabwe is always good for confidence – but with all due respect the Zimbabwean’s are a far cry of the team that had the Flower brothers. In any sport the same does apply, ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you’. Bangladesh have done just that to their credit.

‘Minnows’ such as Holland, Afghanistan, Scotland and Ireland are looking to get into the test arena. Heavy defeats by the so called ‘heavy weights’ haven’t helped in the one day arena, so reluctance by the International Cricket Council or the I.C.C as they are also known as, is understandable.

Such a predicament reminds of football and that of San Marino, the part timers are constantly on the end of an absolute ‘hiding’ from opposition – but footballs governing body persists with keeping San Marino as a football nation, despite the outcries from many that feel San Marino should partake in qualifiers before the world cup qualifiers.

I am a big believer in time – and that certain things just take time. Countries such as Holland and all the other so called minnows as mentioned, need time- time to grow and develop, if that’s the right way to put it.

Countries such as England and Australia for example have got an array of facilities, something which sides like Afghanistan and Bangladesh might not be. Bangladesh and Afghanistan have shown on the worlds biggest stage that they are capable of beating the big sides, or in Afghanistan’s case at least competing with them.

Cricket needs to open it’s doors to the other nations that aren’t already in the top 10, cricket has done in the T20 and One day arena- but if cricket is going to expand the smaller nations need to be involved in that expansion and that involves all forms of cricket.

Afghanistan and Bangladesh do have some talented players, Shakib Al-Hassan joining an elite club of all-rounders to score a hundred and get 10 wickets in same match. The others players were Ian Botham and Imran Khan.

Asghar Stanikzai for Afghanistan had a good world cup, he really impressed me, Mohammed Shazhad a powerful wicket-keeper batsmen also had a good tournament. Cricket has been a bit slow to react to expansion- but now the cricket authorities are reacting, the ‘smaller cricket’ nations will need time to develop.

‘Patience is a virtue’ they say , crickets authorities need just that- patience because I am sure we will see some great talent bless the test circuit and cricket will be a lot better for it.

Can Pakistan Become The Number One Test Side In World Cricket?

Under Misbah Ul-Haq's captaincy Pakistan are now ranked third in test cricket . With the talent in the squad they could get higher.

Under Misbah Ul-Haq’s captaincy Pakistan are now ranked third in test cricket . With the talent in the squad they could get higher.

There is an old saying in the English language ‘the only way is up’. We take a look to see if such a scenario could be applied here for Pakistan’s cricket team. The Asian side under the leadership of Misbah Ul-Haq have had steady progress and after the 2-0 test series win over Australia Pakistan are now at the ‘dizzy heights’ of being third ranked in the world in test cricket.

In the case of the 1992 world champions is the only way up? Pakistan have been quite brilliant at their new ‘home ground’ Abu Dhabi. The Arab state has been their ‘adopted home’ of recent years due to the ploitical turmoil that has been happening in Pakistan, but never the less the South Asians have excelled here.

Wins against England when the English were the number one test side and most recently Australia being very impressive. Pakistan due to the political goings on haven’t been able to play as much cricket as the other nations, but on current form seem quite impressive.

A mixture of youth and experience leaves this team with a good balance. At the top of the order epitomises just that, Ahmed Shazhad and Mohammed Hafeez open the order. What’s been of slight concern is that this opening partnership has not scored heavily as of yet, which has lead oppurtunites for opposition to strike.

Unfortunately for Australia in the recent series there after it was a struggle, Younus khan, Misbah Ul-Haq and Azhar Ali all scoring heavily. To be fair to Ahmed Shazhad he did score a hundred in this series.

The batting line up then does seem very strong with Hafeez and Shazhad opening the batting, followed by Azhar Ali, Younus Khan and then captain Misbah Ul-Haq. Very impressive batting line up indeed and I haven’t even mentioned Sarfraz Ahmed yet! The wicket keeper batsmen had a brilliant series with the bat where others failed, at 27 Ahmed is at the peak of his powers.

The bowling is ‘just as good’ Zaulfiquar Babar was excellent as was Rahat Ali and Imran Khan. There are slight concerns that I have however with this Pakistan side, as good as it is to have experience in the side, there are players who are on the’wrong side’ of 30.

Zaulfiquar Babar as excellent as he was in the recent series win over the Aussies, in the longer term will need replacing, as will Younus khan and captain Misbah Ul-Haq. What Pakistan are blessed with is talented youngsters however, let’s not forget Umar Akmal has ‘talent in abundance’- but isn’t in the side at the moment.

As for potential replacements for Zaulfiquar Babar Pakistan do have some alternatives for Babar and even for Saeed Ajmal in the longer run, if the 34 year old is cleared to play any time soon (Ajmal has been banned for an illegal bowling action).

As far as the present is concerned, Pakistan will be preparing for the test series against New Zealand – who I am sure will present a different challenge. The Kiwi’s haven’t had the best record against Pakistan over the years – but having said that, this series could still be a tricky one for the ‘hosts’ as many will expect them to win.

Series like this one against New Zealand will be the challenge, many might expect Pakistan to win so let’s see how Pakistan embrace the ‘favourites’ tag.

Pakistan do undoubtedly have the potential to be the worlds best side in test cricket, but in the longer run will need to replace key players like Younus Khan. For now though they need to concentrate on the present which is against New Zealand, the series starts on Sunday 9th November.