Lahore, Nov 8: Pakistan cricket has undergone dramatic changes ever since the spot fixing scandal came into light. With former players expressing their views on the verdict given to the tainted trio and on how ICC needs to act to such issues. This issue has been the talk of the town for a couple of days now. Here's a compilation of the changes, after the spot-fixing row came into light.
Lack of communication saw many changes during the World cup leading to a couple of issues which further led to Shoaib Akhtar's retirement, Afridi's captaincy row, his retirement and comeback, to name a few before the spot fixing verdict created a lot of impact on the country.
Many new players have thronged the Pakistan cricket team, making it a relatively new side when compared to the squad that played against England in Aug 2010. The Telegraph, UK has a list of the cricketers who have disappeared from the international stage after the test match at Lord's in Aug 2010.
Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Gul, Shoaib Malik, Azhar Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Amin, Mohammed Aamer, Zulqarnain Haider, Wahab Riaz, Danish Kaneria and Yasir Hameed have been on and off the squad ever since the Lord's test last year.
Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were sentenced for 30, 12 and six months respectively for their charges related to spot-fixing. Apart from these players, other names stated above, have also not represented the national side in both forms of the game including the Test and the one-day format.
While some veterans feel the punishment was apt, former Pakistan player Mohammad Mushtaq feels that Butt and Asif got away lightly. Most of the cricketers did sympathize for the nineteen year old Mohammad Aamer, as he was given a sentence for 6 months after his conviction. This had led to several changes in their cricketing career as they serve a ban of minimum 5 years from the International Cricket Council, Pakistan board has banned Butt for 10 years while Asif and Aamer have got a seven and five year ban respectively which marks the end of their cricketing career.
The other players who were a part of the Test side last year and disappeared later includes Kamran Akmal, the keeper batsman has been out of the Test squad since the Lord's test and has not been a part of the one day squad either since world cup. Imran Farhat, the opener who is experiencing the same fate, can term himself comparitively lucky as he is a part of the one day squad though he has not represented theTest team since the Lord's test in Aug 2010.
Kamran Akmal's talented younger brother Umar Akmal, also faces the same fate as his brother after being dropped from both Test and One-day teams though his name appears in the squad. Umar Amin, another player, who has not been picked since the Edgbaston test last year. While another new face Azhar Ali who scored his maiden Test century recently also making an appearence now and then, and is not a regular member of the squad though he is a part of the current series against Srilanka.
Talented all-rounder Shoaib Malik, post marriage, has not been in great form, forcing the selectors to drop him often from the national side. Though he is a part of the One day squad, his patchy form has been a cause of worry.
A few injuries and out of form has kept Umar Gul out of the squad for a couple of series. Still Gul, famous for his reverse-swing and pace is still in the main league, representing Pakistan in Tests and One dayers.
Age threatens Mohammad Yousuf's cricketing career as he has not represented the team since last year. This 37 year old cricketer's selection appears to be loom as the board wants a young team.
Another cricketer's career went for a toss dur to a Mervyn Westfield case, which forced Essex team to terminate the contract it had with the spinner Danish Kaneria who was released after being questioned by Essex police.
Saeed Ajmal, with his clever off-spinners and doosras was the pick of the bowlers during the World cup. He is one of the players to retain his place in the Test squad.
Yasir Hameed too has not represented the national side in the recent past. While Zulqarnain Haider another cricketer, fled from the tour in Dubai citing threats by fixers. After being fined for this activity, he returned to domestic cricket.
Another player who has disappeared from the international stage is Wahab Riaz, who has not been picked since May 2011. He is not a part of both the limited overs side and the Test side. The bowler's name was mentioned frequently during the trial at Southwark Crown Court.
This happens to be the fate of talented Pakistan players who were the main contenders for the playing eleven last year. Unlike other countries, Pakistan has rich talent at the domestic level though we hardly see them playing first class cricket.
Most of the players who have represented the national side come from a place unknown where they do not have access to training academies nor coaching camps. Pakistan depend on this raw talent and give them an opportunity to play at the international level though they do not have much exposure. Though this brave move needs to be appreciated.
Moreover the main problem being the board not taking care of its players which happens to be the main cause of worry. Lack of co-ordination, communication has made matters worse between the players and the board. There are plenty of instances to quote regarding this Afridi's captaincy row and his retirement being one of them. Though the country has taken precautions and is aware of players' problems off late.
Presently Pakistan cricket has undergone tremendous changes, with new players proving their mettle and thriving for excellence, time can only tell how long these players can sustain the pressure and play for the national side. This also shows, Pakistan Board is currently focusing on the young brigade suggesting that they are going to take this matter seriously and hope for a change in fortune soon.
Things might change only if the issues between the board and the players are sorted out, in turn guiding the youngsters in the right track.