Pakistan’s WWC debacle: Will Sana Mir be the scapegoat?

Women Cricket World Cup 2017 (WWC17) turned out to be a nightmare for Pakistan cricket team as the women in green lost all their matches, finishing bottom of the table.

Before the start of the tournament, Pakistani cricket fans were not expecting world class performance from their team but 7 consecutive defeats are quite below par. Even PCB Chairman Shahryar Khan termed Pakistan cricket team’s performance as ‘disappointing’.

While giving interview to BBC Urdu, Khan said that the special training was given to the team before the tournament and he was very disappointed by the team’s performance.

An unknown source from PCB has questioned Sana Mir’s captaincy. While giving interview to APP, he said that Sana Mir had failed to lead Pakistan in proper way. Her own performance too was not satisfactory. The board is likely to take a decision next week about her future role in the team, he added.

Shamsa Hashmi, Secretary Women’s Wing, also lashed out at Pakistan’s skipper. She reportedly termed her performance as ‘not very encouraging’.

It seems that PCB has already made their escape plan i.e. removing Sana Mir from captaincy. The same thing they did in 2014 when they forced Muhammad Hafeez (Pakistan’s T20I captain of that time) to leave captaincy after the disastrous World T20I 2014 campaign. However, the results remained the same in the next T20I WC as well when Pakistan was disqualified in the first round under Shahid Afridi’s captaincy.

PCB is intending to repeat the same mistake again. The thing that PCB needs to learn is removing captain from the post can hardly solve their problems, especially a captain like Sana Mir, who showed her character and maturity as captain during the WC when the other players were struggling. Even the commentators were impressed by her standard of cricket. She was the star of the tournament for Pakistan. She averaged over 30 with the help of one fifty in the tournament (highest from Pakistan). She also picked six wickets at 51.50. Sana Mir is the only Pakistan woman cricketer to be ranked in top 10 ODI all-rounders in the world and No 12 ODI bowler in the world. She also has 100+ wickets and 1000+ runs under her belt.

If we look at Pakistan’s performance, it was not as disastrous as it seems. It was the youngest and most inexperienced team of the tournament, playing against the best in the business. Australia and England had been playing cricket long before Pakistan women team came into existence. Not many are aware that women cricketers staged their World Cup two years before men played their first mega tournament. The first Women World Cup was held in 1973 with England as winners.

Pakistan nearly beat South Africa in their first match, lost to West Indies and Sri Lanka by small margins and restricted India to their lowest score of the tournament (169 runs). They were thrashed badly by Australia and England as both the teams have huge experience as compared to Pakistan. Both teams have won 9 World Cups combined, showing their upper hand over all cricket playing nations.

No doubt that Pakistan could have performed better but the injury of senior batswoman Bismah Maroof and limited resources made things difficult for the team. Firing captain from the job isn’t the right thing to do. Captain alone is not responsible for the defeats, its entire team’s fault which includes coaches, manager and board as well. The players did their best to perform well but the question is: did PCB do its best to help the team perform better?

Management cannot, and should not, be allowed to blame a single player or captain. They should review their own performance too.

Did they provide proper resources, coaches, training and all the other facilities to the team? The answer is surely no. So my advice to PCB is they should learn from their mistakes. They need a talent hunt to discover new talent and they should invest some money as well to raise standards of women cricket in Pakistan.

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