What now Pakistan?

THE main conversation at the ICC Champions Trophy is "What now Pakistan?" It is not a new topic for it seems every 18 months or so the same topic is discussed.

Mostly it centres around indifferent and inconsistent form, but occasionally it can be other matters.

Generally there seems to be much drama in what is happening in the Pakistan team and how it is handled by the Pakistan board.

Mostly the Pakistan board seems to dither around when confronted by problems either on or off the field. This time they seem to have acted in haste and ordered their coach Mudassar Nazar to return to Pakistan for a urgent meeting to discuss his team's recent form.

This hasty decision for the coach to return before the current tournament is completed and following the team's poor performance against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy and in the Moroccan tournament has, not unexpectedly, led to much conjecture, particularly after one of their players was sent home from Morocco prior to the commencement of the tournament for inappropriate behaviour.

Those close to the Pakistan scene are not reading anything sinister into the situation but just the various political cliques flexing their muscles. Much of this flexing seems to be directed at the captain Waqar Younis and his right to retain the captaincy. This seems to be the most consistent and ongoing debate in Pakistan whether the team is winning or not.

Much of this debate races around his perceived lack of bowling form. Certainly he is not the bowler of old and neither is Wasim Akram. Indeed neither are many other of the senior Pakistan players. And herein lies, I believe, the major concern for Pakistan cricket.

Pakistan is an ageing team and it must remedy this before solving the current problems.

Too often, and particularly in this very well paid cricketing world, players do stay on too long in the game. And who could blame them with so much money available in this modern cricketing world.

This means that the selectors now must make hard and often unpopular decisions by removing popular favourites. The Australian selectors did it last year with the Waugh twins and now the Pakistan selectors must show the same courage and look to the future.

If it means losing a few games while rebuilding so be it, for the road back will be shorter if they do so rather than hanging on to old favourites who may have past their use by date.

The other conversation that is raising the hackles of many is the use of the third umpire to assist in LBW decisions. Ostensibly it is rumoured to be only used to give the field umpire guidance as to whether the ball pitched in line with the stumps.

That sounds fine, but will the umpires be too influenced by the line to the detriment of other consideration.

This seemed to be the case the first time this new consideration was used. Once the umpire got the O.K. for line he immediately gave the batsman out, forgetting perhaps that height was also an important consideration.

I am mostly in favour of the introduction of modern technology in decision making but not before every consideration is made before they are introduced.

My major concern is the LBW's and in particular the one being used by one of the T.V. Channels, showing graphs of just what line the ball would have taken whether it is height or width and whether it would have hit the stumps.

While I can to some extent accept deviations and whether the ball would hit the stumps I have many reservations about height. It seems to me that there is too much that is being assumed.

Anyone who has played cricket knows that all turf wickets are variable in bounce, depending on whether the ball lands on a dryer spot, a grassy area, a small valley or hill and indeed what spin is imparted or indeed what height the ball is delivered from. In reality two balls can pitch as close as six inches apart and can react differently whether it be with line or bounce.

In addition does the calculation of these angles take in the width from where the bowler lets the ball go or do they just calculate the angle from where the ball pitches to the stumps?

Many times I believe in replays no consideration is given to how wide on the crease the ball is delivered. If the angle is acute, it would cause the ball to miss the stumps.

More technology will be used in the future and I only hope it is done in a rational way.