The popularity of cricket hasn’t gone down a bit but the quality of cricket definitely has. Cricket in the golden era was very unpredictable and delivered many memorable battles. There was no such term as ‘upset’ as every team was capable to win on their day. Unfortunately, same can’t be said today.
If we leave out India, Australia, England and probably New Zealand, other teams don’t quite poses the qualities to succeed at the highest level. Teams like Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies have seen a massive slump. One of the main reasons for the vast difference in qualities between the aforementioned teams is the importance that teams like India, Australia and England give to domestic cricket.
Most of the underperforming teams lack consistency because the players are picked based on few good performances in T20 leagues and not by their performance in domestic cricket. Pointing out the same, former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi slammed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) over their poor selection policy. Afridi feels that selection in Pakistan’s national team is very easy these days as a couple of good knocks in PSL are good enough to give players a run at the highest level.
“It has become so easy to play for the national team whereas in the past playing for the Pakistan team was the ultimate for any professional cricketer. That is why our performances are not consistent with the amount of cricket we play in Pakistan,” said Afridi
“Why have we made it so really easy for players to represent their country? I am sad to see that a player gives one or two good performances in domestic cricket or the PSL and he is in the national team. What is this? You should make your cricketers play domestic cricket,” he added.
Afridi’s comments came in light of the controversy surrounding the selection of Azam Khan, who was selected in the Pakistan T20I squad for the England and West Indies tours. At the time of his selection, Azam had played only one first-class match, 15 List A games (average of 29.89) and 36 T20s (average of 23.96).
Afridi further said that players need to understand the challenges of playing against top-quality oppositions at the highest level. The all-rounder added that players need to grind hard in domestic cricket before they are exposed to international cricket.
“The real difference playing international cricket is how strong a player is mentally to handle all the pressures that come in international matches and that includes the criticism and glare of the media and fans. We must now judge the difference between just talent and mental strength of a player.”
“If you give a chance to a player and he doesn’t perform, he should be sent back into domestic cricket. Don’t make playing for Pakistan so easy. Players must know the value of international cricket. I am totally against players coming into the side on just one or two performances.”
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