Misbah and Younis: Is It Really Time To Say Goodbye?

Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan; the heroes that Pakistan deserved, but no longer the ones it needs right now.

The curtain is finally coming down on the respective careers of Misbah and Younis. The men who have led Pakistan through thick and thin, through the few highs and the many lows of Pakistani cricket are finally bidding farewell. These two men have carried a nation on their shoulders for best part of the last decade. They have paid their dues and served their country with all their heart and soul.

Misbah was the light that shone in the darkness; the beacon that led Pakistani cricket to safe shores from dangerous waters. He took a team that no one else believed in and dragged them to the top. Misbah took Pakistan to the summit of Test cricket, to becoming the number one ranked team in the world. Could any other man have achieved the seemingly impossible? After being dropped aged 36, and having played just 19 Tests, he took over a nomadic team in 2010 from which Younis had been banned from playing, Shahid Afridi had been fined for biting into a cricket ball, and three players – including disgraced former captain Salman Butt – were serving time in prison for spot-fixing. In spite of this, Misbah brought them the Test mace.

Misbah put his team before anything else. His career tells the story of a man who put his nation before his own personal success. It was his duty to lead Pakistan and he did just that. He played whatever role they needed from smashing sixes to get Pakistan down to needing 6 off 4 in the 2007 T20 World Cup final to scoring consecutive 99s against the West Indies in his final Test series. He is the highest run-scorer in ODI cricket to have not made a century, having scored 5122 runs with a top score of 96*. The ageless man has made 37% of his Test runs since turning 40. In the last three years he has scored over a third of his career tally of runs and it looks as though he could go on if he wanted to.

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It will be a severe shock to the system when not only Misbah leaves, but also the great Younis Khan. On April 23rd, Younis made history as the oldest man and the first Pakistani to join the exclusive 10,000 Test runs club as only man to achieve this with more centuries than fifties. Since Saleem Altaf, Pakistan’s team manager, threatened to drop him in India in 2005 he has been a rock for Pakistan, and for the next decade Younis held a Test average of 60.41.

Younis holds a number of accolades, from being the only player to score the Grand Slam of centuries in the eleven countries that have held Test matches, to leading Pakistan to the T20 World Cup title in 2009 (achieved just weeks after Pakistani cricket had been devastated by the terror attacks in Lahore), but it’s his fourth innings runs that have made him so special to Pakistan. The rearguard specialist holds the most number of centuries in fourth-innings totals and has scored 1465 runs when chasing at an average of 50.52. His ability to not only absorb pressure but also thrive under it have made him invaluable to Pakistan, and he will be desperately missed not only by the players but by the fans too.

A new leader won’t change much for Pakistan. In fact they’re going to realise just how much they have relied on these two giants to get them where they are today. Pakistan don’t have it easy being a country that’s ‘home’ is away from home but they don’t help themselves. After their win against England in August at the Oval, only one player – Sami Aslam – played a first-class match before their next Test against the West Indies in October. As much as we like to imagine it, Pakistan are no fairytale team. They have their magical moments but have their flaws like everybody else. Now they will need to work harder than ever to fill the shoes of Misbah and Younis as they play their final farewell Test against the West Indies.

This article was first published on TimeChor: http://timechor.in/misbah-and-younis-is-it-really-time-to-say-goodbye/

IPL 2017: Imperfectly Perfect.

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IPL and I have had an on and off relationship for a number of years now. I was in love with the new and exciting model of T20 cricket for the first few years and then it went downhill from there and finally hit rock bottom for me with the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals spot fixing scandals. Why watch cricket when you know the game is being manufactured?

A lot of people were angry and lost interest. Myself included. All the players were just redrafted or put up for auction into other teams and new franchises came up as if it was any other year. To me it seemed like they were trying to fix something that was already broken. I doubt I would’ve gotten back into it had I not been living and working in a tiny village in the south of Nepal with intermittent electricity and a few random Indian channels that came and went as they pleased. It may have been the lack of Netflix in my life or TV in general but I really got into it (fully getting behind the Gujarat Lions – when we had electricity) and this year I was counting down days!!

T20 cricket has grown over the years and sometimes I hate to say it but not least because of the IPL. It has played a huge part in the development and success of other leagues like the Big Bash and though I may prefer the Australian counterpart for their introduction of a women’s tournament, nothing comes close in success or class to the IPL.

Even in it’s 10th year it continues to grow and develop. This year, an 18 year old from Afghanistan, Rashid Khan, held the purple cap and currently sits third in leading wicket takers and up until today’s double header and hat-trick fest, was third in best bowling figures. Where else (except for the T20 WC every two years) would players from associate nations get the chance to play with and face the top players in the world?

Where else would you find such a huge platform (with the first three matches of IPL 2017 reached 185.7 million viewers) for one day players like Andrew Tye and Lockie Ferguson to develop their bowling prowess and most importantly, where else would you find the likes of Sunil Narine opening the batting alongside Gautam Gambhir?

Apparently KKR’s winning opening partnership of 2014 needed a re-vamp. An understandable selection of Chris Lynn kicked off KKR’s campaign with a 10 wicket win over the Gujarat Lions but even once Lynn got injured, it was too late to go back. Gambhir had already tasted the power of a hard-hitting accomplice. He wanted to continue with a more dynamic partner. It seemed the BBL had some impact as Narine walked out alongside his captain not for the first time this year. He smashed boundaries of Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron before being dismissed for 37 off 18 balls. He played his role perfectly getting KKR off to a flyer chasing 170.

Is there still room for as many specialist T20 batsmen when your bowlers can do this? Will players need talents in both the bowling and batting department in coming years? (I’m sure Chris Gayle will have something to say about that remark over the next few games as he approaches his 10,000 T20 runs).

Of course the game has its flaws. Do players take it less seriously when they’re not playing for their country? The number of loose balls and dropped catches over the past 13 games has been unreasonable from the standard of players in this tournament. There have been double overthrows and no-balls followed by wides. Andrew Tye might’ve finished on debut with 6/15 had Ravi Jadeja not dropped a catch today and more than one of the overall results would have come out different over the last week.

However it is early days. The teams are still finding their balance and gelling together and it may not be perfect I still strongly believe that this brand of international cohesion will bring the best and brightest out of each and every country and I can’t wait to see what else this tournament has in store…

 

Can Cricket Save The World?

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It’s been a while since I uploaded a blog, I’ve been having a bit of writers block. I wanted to write something about India and Australia but whilst I gather my thoughts on that, I wanted to upload this. A slightly late video of our coaching day in South Africa and talk a bit about – as the MCC like to call it – ‘the spirit of cricket’

I was lucky enough to be given the chance to go on tour and play cricket in South Africa and on top of that I was even MORE lucky to be given the opportunity to coach some really talented young kids cricket in a Township in Cape Town. Created during apartheid as a dormitory area for migratory workers, today it is the biggest and youngest black township on the Cape Flats.

 

It was so inspiring to see these young kids running around (playing better cricket than myself to be honest) and bursting with energy. Working alongside Sporting Chance who work tirelessly with the kids and do amazing work we were able to deliver some bowling, batting and fielding coaching sessions and donate some kit and £700 to the charity. It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things but every little helps and the day had such a profound impact on everyone who participated, we established a crowdfunding page to help raise money and develop a sustainable relationship with the charity and the kids.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/khayelitsha <if you have a few pounds to spare!

It got me thinking about the impact cricket has in the world and in particular on women and young girls. From Cricket Without Boundaries who work in sub-Saharan African countries to deliver cricket development alongside health and social education messages from HIV to FGM two of the most prevalent health issues faced by some of these countries…

(http://www.cricketwithoutboundaries.com/volunteer < you can read more about volunteering if you’re interested!)

… to Opening Boundaries who  just recently teamed up with the White Ribbon campaign to promote the role of men in the prevention of male violence against women and girls through sport and have done incredible work to promote gender equality and empower women and young girls through cricket.

Even at the elite level, cricket is making progress. the MCC have in recent years started running development and legacy tours to coach and train up coaches in countries such as Nepal, Suriname, Bermuda and Uganda. Countries that don’t enjoy the benefits of larger Test playing nations or even associate nations but giving the chance to these other nations to play against an elite team is invaluable experience and will help grow the game in more ways than one.

 

 

To be honest, I have no idea where this blog was going and I could go on forever about the number of charities doing amazing work from Chance to Shine to Street Child United and don’t get me wrong there’s still a long way to go but I just wanted to show everyone the incredible projects that are running all around us and most importantly, that my obsession with the sport is well founded…

It’s The Mahi Show

“God is not coming to save us” – MSD

This is what MS Dhoni said to his team before they took to the field in 2013 to defend their below-par score in the Champions Trophy final.

This line truly embodied the Dhoni era. He made his own luck, created chances, set fields even the commentators didn’t understand, took off his keeping pads to bowl himself (on nine occasions), bowled Ishant Sharma at the death of the CT2013 final and promoted himself above man of the tournament Yuvraj Singh to win the 2011 world cup final.

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Dhoni anticipating a shot from Manon Vohra in IPL 2016

However he was not only a mastermind in his captaincy. MS Dhoni reinvented the art of wicket-keeping, from his under leg flick-ons to his lightning quick stumpings. There has been no captain/wicket-keeper like him and there will be none like him. Not necessarily in skill but in sheer determination to be the best. When he started out he was no better than any other keeper that had come India’s way. He struggled behind the stumps against Anil Kumble but grew and went on to become the most successful keeper in terms of stumpings (surpassing Kumar Sangakkara).

 

These stats do not do Dhoni’s keeping skills justice. During the T20 cup last year, he manufactured a stumping against Sabbir Rahman who lost balance for what was later estimated to be 0.35 seconds (about as long as it takes to blink).

 

As far as ‘step-downs’ go, this was by far one of the most graceful. A man who led India through 199 ODIs,  scoring 6633 runs at an average of 53.92, 72 T20s and 60 Tests. He guided India through their transition from Tendulkar to Kohli and has built a young and formidable side. He has given Virat Kohli the chance to lead India into a big tournament this year and has given the young prodigy time to prepare for the 2019 World Cup in England.

Very few other captains have stepped down and stuck around to play under another. Dhoni (aged 35) still has a lot of cricket left in him but has given his successor the best opportunity to succeed by sticking around and potentially the best opportunity for himself to play without the weight of a billion fans hopes on his shoulders.

Shaun Pollock, Sourav Ganguly, Ross Taylor, Younis Khan. All team men who continued to play under their successors, and to great avail. Younis Khan became Pakistan’s highest run getter – and it appears MS Dhoni is on that same track. shutterstock_298765286

India’s 2-1 series win against England in the ODIs was no surprise. Virat Kohli led from the front in the first ODI scoring 122 and setting the tone for his captaincy and England won an incredibly tense final over in the third but it was Dhoni’s 134 that was the highlight of the series and will be a key talking point in the lead up to CT17. Having scored the highest number of ODI hundreds by a number 7 he was finally promoted to play up the order (where he should have been from day one). He and Yuvraj Singh, who scored 150, put on a mamoth 250 run partnership and it almost felt like it was 2011 again.

Dhoni’s skills as a batsman have been and will be vital for India, his calm presence, his ability to pace an innings and his incredible self confidence have helped them recover from 29/5 against Pakistan in 2012, beat Australia in the 2012 Commonwealth Bank Series and win the ICC 2011 World Cup.

As Kohli had put it before the series started, it’s a ‘win-win’ for India as Dhoni will be around to give advice and offer input but will also have the freedom to play without the burden of captaincy. This was Dhoni’s first ODI century since 2013 against Australia in Mohali and I expect it won’t be his last.

(special thanks to Jaymin Thakrar on this one for his expertise on all things Dhoni related)

 

What happens when our heroes retire?

I had a dream last night, or rather a nightmare, that AB de Villiers retired from international cricket.

It was a terrible dream yet it was one that wasn’t completely unreasonable. In the morning, I switched on my computer and frantically googled ‘AB de Villiers retired’ and nothing new came up. I felt a deep relief but the thought stayed with me. AB de Villiers is missing his third consecutive series having not missed one in his first 98. People age and as difficult as it is to imagine our heroes as regular people, they are.

I’d had this thought before, it crossed my mind when India’s golden four retired from the international stage, when Brian Lara retired, when Kumar Sangakkara retired. The list went on and on from Shane Warne to Jaque Kallis and I realised how often I had I said to myself “who will I even want to watch now?” or “Cricket won’t be the same without …” It made me think how many times had I questioned what the game would be like without this person or that person. I realised that people must have been thinking this since the beginning of the game. What did people think when Donald Bradman retired, or when Imran Khan retired.

Gary Sobers retired in 1974 but that same year, Viv Richards made his debut. Players come and go, they make new marks and we discover new heroes. New players with new skills. Wasim Akram introduced the world to reverse swing, Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee introduced the world to 100+ mph deliveries. Who knows what the next cricket match holds for us.

My religion on Facebook may still be ‘Sachinism’ and I may always compare all players to him and Rahul Dravid, but I was rooting for Wahab Riaz with every fibre of my being in the 2015 quarter final against Australia. When Rahat Ali dropped that catch I felt my heart sink. I have written about that piece of bowling on countless occasions but that display of bowling will be ingrained in my mind forever. I watched him throw lightning bolts again this summer against England, live at the home of cricket, and was once again mesmerized.

Cricket is an ever changing sport. No two players are the same and that’s what makes it interesting, if everyone was a Sachin Tendulkar, we would get bored of it. Everyone has their own personality, their own technique, their own flair. There are always new talents revealing themselves and we may never have another player with an average of 99.94, one scoring 100 100s or one scoring 400* but records are made to be broken and they wouldn’t be records if everyone could do it.

With the women up and coming, young players like Haseeb Hameed and Karun Nair breaking onto the scene and with the likes of Virat Kohli and Joe Root around, we will never be short of new heroes.

(but luckily AB hasn’t retired just yet)

Cricketing superstitions

All sportspeople have their pre-match rituals, Rafael Nadal had to decline a meeting with the queen during Wimbledon to not mess with his winning routine. Cricketers are very superstitious about which pad goes on first and which bats and gloves they use but here are 12 of the more individual ones.

1. Every time the South African Neil Mckenzie went out to bat he had to make sure all the toilet seats are down and checked the lights eight times. He was most famous for his habit of taping his bat to the ceiling of the changing room. McKenzie also feared treading on the white lines of the cricket pitch (which must have made batting rather difficult).

2. It was David Shepherd who popularised the practice of keeping one foot off the floor when the score of 111(Nelson) was reached. On 11/11/11 South Africa needed exactly 111 runs to win a Test against Australia. Umpire Ian Gould, and a good part of the crowd, spent that minute hopping on one foot.

3. Virender Sehwag used to wear a number 44 jersey but that wasn’t turning out to be too lucky for him. So after consulting a numerologist, he decided to wear a numberless shirt and since then, the bowlers rarely got to see the back of that jersey.

4. Duck seemed so ominous to Steve James (Glamorgan) that he refused to eat it! He also wouldn’t even let his children have a rubber one to play with in the bath until after his career was over and he had retired when he also finally tried duck.

5. Anil Kumble became the second man to take all 10 wickets in a test innings against Pakistan in 1999. During the match, Kumble got a wicket every time he began by handing over his cap and sweater to Sachin Tendulkar

6. England cricketer Sir Len Hutton always carried a five-shilling coin with himself which was given to him by his grandfather’s friend with recommendation never to part ways with it as it might bring bad luck to his game.

7. For Jack Russell, twenty cups of tea per day was standard. He would dip the tea bag in once, and then hang it on a nail, ready for the next cup. The story goes, in 1989 at The Oval, he used one bag for a whole Ashes Test match. He also likes his Weetabix, soaked in milk for precisely eight minutes.

8. Mark Ramprakash chewed the same piece of gum for the duration of his innings. He batted for long sessions facing ball after ball and top scoring in first class with 301* and reaching 131 centuries (that’s a lot of time per gum). He was known to place his gum on the top of the stumps before heading off for a break, and pop it back in his mouth when he returned.

9. Sourav Ganguly and the photo of his Guruji (spiritual teacher) in his pocket. He always made sure his guru’s photo was in his pocket whenever on the field. He also wore rings and maalas (prayer beads) which he believed were lucky.

10. Steve Waugh one of the most famous Australian captains used a red rag to wipe away some sweat during a Test match against England at Leeds in 1993. He went on to score a hundred and kept it in his pocket when batting for the rest of his career. However Marlon Samuels asked Waugh for a piece but hasn’t scored very much since!

11. Mohammad Azharuddin and his black tabeez. A ball hurled towards his legs usually ended up at the fence. He was brilliant in the field as well and always wore his black tabeez. However, whenever he was batting, he let it hang out of his jersey to bring him better luck.

12. Michael Clarke believes in listening to loud music before going out to bat, saying that it is lucky for him and also helps him concentrate better.

Match-intervention or match-fixing?

On Friday, Middlesex won their first County Championship title in 23 years.

As a Middlesex girl, I’d seen my fair share of county championship games but this decider-game at the Home of Cricket between Yorkshire and Middlesex was one that excited me almost as much as watching India does. The title was still up for grabs, a three-way contest between Yorkshire (who needed 350 in the first innings and a win), Middlesex (who needed a win) and Somerset (who needed them to draw).

Middlesex had set Yorkshire a first innings target of 270 but to stay in the county race, they needed to get to 350 runs within 110 overs. It was in true dramatic style that a 10th wicket partnership between Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom saw Yorkshire over the 350 mark (with an hours break at 349) and gave the defending champions a 120 run lead.

A 200 run partnership between Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan meant the game was looking more like a draw and more like a win for Somerset who had beaten Nottinghamshire by a resounding 325 runs. The two well-matched teams were still neck and neck battling it out by lunch on day four to no avail.

So they decided to get a result. Neither team benefitted from a draw so the two teams agreed to intervene. Both sides agreed on an equation. One that would allow Middlesex to set a target for Yorkshire to chase – almost nullifying the first two innings to set up a sort of one-day decider.

240 in 40. That was the agreed target between captains James Franklin and Andrew Gale. The target that Yorkshire needed to chase down for the title. They had agreed to speed up the game for half an hour and allow Middlesex to reach a lead of 240.

To achieve this situation however, Yorkshire had to serve up balls on a silver platter. Their opening batsmen Adam Lyth and Alex Lees came on to bowl and were dispatched for 128 runs in 11.5 overs at an RR of 10.82. Boundary after boundary came with the odd wicket inexplicably falling here and there. Brooks standing at square-leg held a catch of Lees’ bowling that he appeared to really not want to take and Lyth held a caught and bowled. The players were smiling unsure about how to react to such a debacle.

The teams were artificially creating a result, not to specifically benefit/sabotage each other but to push the game along. They did not together decide on who would win but they did ensure someone would win. Was it legitimate and in the spirit of the game? Would a draw have been the right thing to do? To have the game wane and taper off (in favour of Somerset) with the knowledge and ability to do something about it? Both teams were prepared to lay it all out there for the chance to win so they took the game into their own hands.

Middlesex declared on 239. With 40 overs to go it seemed like a very generous target especially in modern day cricket but it appeared all too much for Yorkshire. A small enough target to entice but a long enough game for the batsmen to think twice.

The equation moved to 153 off 20, then 87 off 10 and Toby Roland-Jones took the game home for Middlesex with a hat-trick to remove Yorkshire’s lower order and win them the County Championship title after 23 years, dashing the dreams of two other counties in the last and final over of the 2016 season. Any other game and the teams might have blocked it out for a draw but this was an all or nothing situation. Both teams had done their part and a game that was at an impasse was brought back to life.

However with the county championship decider being manipulated into a result are we likely to see more controlled target setting and match handling? Will it change the four-day game in the future? For the better?

Yorkshire v Middlesex: The adventures of Sidebottom

The end of play on day 3 and Yorkshire had kept hopes of winning their third consecutive county championship title alive. Having played only 4 specialist batsmen and collapsing to 4-53 with three ducks, the visitors still needed 297 runs to stay in the race.

Middlesex had set a target of 270 thanks to Nick Gubbins’ 125. However he had very little support as the next highest score of the innings was a 48 from captain James Franklin. They scored very slowly and on the second morning, Jack Brooks cleaned up to take six-for after Tim Bresnan broke Middlesex’s main partnership.

It was a hard-earned century from Bresnan and half-century contributions from Andy Hodd and Azeem Rafiq that got Yorkshire close to the line. Middlesex dropped too many chances and allowed the game to be taken away from them.

Rafiq fell when Yorkshire were on 318 (32 runs short of their bonus points). Steven Patterson made a handy 11 to bring them up to 333 but five balls later Yorkshire were 9 down.

Then came in 11th man Ryan Sidebottom in the 95th over to bat with Bresnan as they were 16 runs short of their batting bonus point. The man who had grittily batted out top stop Somerset winning the title once before and he was about to dampen their dreams once again.

Sidebottom got off the mark on his second ball only to find he would be facing Steven Finn at the other end. He blocked out ball after ball after ball to keep Yorkshire in the race. He kept out Yorkers from Tim Murtagh and survived LBW appeals from Roland-Jones. Single by single the final pair fought their way to 349 with Sidebottom 2 from 38.

It was then the umpires took out their light meter as Yorkshire were just one run short of their bonus point and took the players off the pitch. As if the last 10 overs had not been dramatic enough, the crowd were kept waiting for over an hour before play resumed.

As fate would have it, it was Sidebottom who clipped a 4 off his legs from Roland-Jones to get them over the line. His reaction as he ran between the wickets was that of a man who had just won his team the championship. As he punched the air a loud roar emanated from the crowd. He had given them a chance.

Why just women’s cricket week?

While the 2016 was a breakthrough season for women’s cricket, in many ways it was a missed opportunity.

The first ever women’s cricket week began on Saturday 2nd July as Sky partnered up with the ECB to encourage females of all ages and from all walks of life to get involved in cricket.

The initiative was created to boost coverage and participation in the sport. It was centered around the England v Pakistan Ladies T20 series that was broadcasted live on Sky Sports. Ladies clubs from all around London were covered including Harrow Town Ladies in an attempt to promote club cricket. The initiative was a big success as more people got the opportunity to watch women play on the international stage, but one week is not about to change the face of women’s cricket.

Women still do not receive the same coverage as men. International men’s series’ both home and away are given full exposure. Not only that but men’s domestic cricket is given more exposure than women’s international cricket. It’s no secret that men’s sports are, on the whole, more popular than women’s but how is that supposed to change if games are not covered and priority is given based on current viewership? How are young girls supposed to develop a deep interest in sports without role models to aspire to on TV.

The last time the England women played a fixture at the Lord’s cricket ground was in 2013. Should their games not take priority over T20 Blast games or other county games? During the Kia Super League only one of the Surrey Stars home games was played at the Kia Oval whilst the other was played in Guildford. More than 2,000 people attended the Surrey Stars v Yorkshire Diamonds game at The Oval and it was a great opportunity for young players to play on the big stage. The final was held at the Essex County cricket ground and attracted a much smaller crowd than that at The Oval. There was no fixture set to be played at Lord’s within five days of the final either side and it would have been a great opportunity to showcase women’s cricket at ‘the home of cricket’..

The Kia Super League (coming straight after Women’s Cricket Week) was the perfect platform to build from but the ladies received no live coverage from Sky throughout the tournament neither was there anywhere else to stream live games. Much more could have been done for the ladies to increase support and awareness of the league online and via social media. The KSL final came the day after the T20 Blast final; it was the perfect time to promote the women’s game but very little was done.

And now? There may be a little more awareness of the England ladies whereabouts but as they begin their tours in the West Indies and Sri Lanka, without any real coverage or highlights for the home crowd all the momentum built up over the summer will surely die down. We can only hope that as support for the KSL grows, the ladies will be given a lot more attention and support and women’s cricket week will no longer be needed.

Pakistan’s #5.67

Pakistan rose to the No.1 ranked Test team after drawing the series with England 2-2. They had a little bit of help from mother nature as the rain set in at the Queen’s Park Oval to stop India’s 3-0 sweep and from Australia’s inability to play spin but their performance in England showed they were worthy of the spot. But is a team’s worth based solely on their ability to play Test cricket?

Test cricket may be the most grueling format, the hardest format and the most respected but are we now ignoring Pakistan’s rank #9 in ODIs and #7 in T20’s? Two forms of cricket they once dominated with the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi being leading one day wicket takers. Does their No. 1 Test rank – the spot that every team strives for – mean they’re now classed as the best in the word?

Pakistan have done a wonderful thing over the past five years. Or rather, Misbah Ul Haq has done a wonderful thing. From the depths of despair when Pakistan were facing their darkest hour he took over and pulled them up towards the light. He marshaled his troops, rallied the country and brought Pakistan to the No.1 spot in Test rankings. A team without a home. A team that has not been able to play on their own soil for the past seven years. Yet still they somehow managed to create talented and unique players that brought them up to the no.1 ranked team. Players like Mohammed Amir who was reborn to cricket this series, like Wahab Riaz who can bowl bolts of lightning as if Zeus himself was playing cricket, like Misbah who fixed and lead a shattered nation. Pakistan’s rise to the #1 rank is a real disney fairytale ending. I believe very few other teams could accomplish what Pakistan have given the challenges they have faced.

Life would be that simple if Test cricket were the only format of cricket (and I wouldn’t mind that at all) but it’s not. Pakistan have had an extremely tough time in one day cricket. Once one of the best T20 sides, they have slipped down the rankings. Can we truly judge a team based solely on their Test performance? Pakistan’s overall ranking over the three formats is 5.67. Yet India’s combined average is 2.33, South Africa’s is 4.33 and England’s is 4.67. Can we truly even accept a Test no. 1 rank when Pakistan haven’t played the no.2 ranked team, India? nor have they played Zimbabwe or the West Indies in five years. A potential word championships in Test cricket could do wonders. Just as there are reforms set to create a more inclusive ODI structure, the ICC must consider changes to Test cricket.

England’s complete dominance over the first three ODIs has semi stolen the spotlight from Pakistan’s triumph. A world record of 444-3 was scored at Trent Bridge against a similar bowling attack to the one that had earned Pakistan that no.1 rank. A bowling attack that had almost taken England apart in one format was  being smashed to all parts of Nottingham in another. Pakistan may be missing some key experience in their line-up but they do not lack the ability. There has been an abundance of misfields, and bowling errors, especially in the latest ODI. Both Hales and Morgan were dropped, Riaz took wickets off no-balls and ended on the second most expensive ODI figures. Balls found gaps in long barriers, found the floor when they should’ve found hands and found bat over and over and over again.

Pakistan have a lot of work to do in their one day department. They are currently risking their automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in England and with the Champions Trophy only a year away they will have to pull their boots up.