ICL: Indian Cricket League

Shoaib Malik: Can he resurrect the glory?

Written by Kashif Aziz on April 21st, 2007   (648 views)

Shoaib MalikAs the captain goes down with sinking ship, Inzamam stepped down from captaincy and announced his retirement from ODI. While the nation was expecting other ’senior’ players to follow suit but no one showed courage and sportsmanship to come forward and accept the blame.

pakistan captain pollAfter Inzamam’s retirement and Younis Khan’s refusal of accepting the task, PCB got a job to name the new skipper. This led to a storm of speculation with number of players showing interest in the position. PCB, according to media reports, considered Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt as prime candidates, giving youth a chance this time over seasoned players like Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzak and Shahid Afridi.

Eventually the dust settled and PCB named Shoaib Malik as captain and Mohammad Asif as vice captain for the coming season. 25 years old Shoaib Malik succeeded Inzamam-ul-Haq as 25th captain of the Pakistani team.

Born in February 01, 1982 at Sialkot, Shoaib Malik played his first ODI against West Indies at Sharjah in October 1999. His Test debut was against Bangladesh at Multan in August 2001. He has played 18 Tests scoring 941 runs on the average of 37.64 with 148 (not out) as highest score. In ODIs he has played 137 matches and scored 3524 runs on the average of 33.56 with 143 as highest score. He has taken 13 Test wickets with 4 for 42 as best bowling figures and 104 ODI wickets with 4 for 19 as best.

According to his profile on Cricinfo.com:

Short of wicketkeeping, there are few role that have passed Shoaib Malik by on the cricket field.
He has batted in every position in ODIs since his debut in 1999. He began at Test level batting in the lower-order and was even used as an opener, astonishingly, proving himself to be an adept one.

As an offspinner in the modern mould, everything about his bowling, from short-stepping run-up to the doosra, bear striking similarities with Saqlain Mushtaq (though not as obviously gifted). And the action isn’t clean enough - he has been reported twice at international level - once in October 2004 after which he played primarily as a batsman for the next six months, before undergoing elbow surgery to correct his action. And he was again reported in November 2005, after which he underwent elbow surgery again in early 2006.

But it is his intelligence and versatility that mark him out and make him so vital to Pakistan’s future. After Bob Woolmer’s arrival, he became one of Pakistan’s most intelligent ODI batsmen, regularly marshalling chases from one-down, setting up platforms for big totals as a thruster, scoring runs in vital matches and being at the heart of Pakistan’s ODI resurgence. He is an uncomplicated batsman, with checked drives and cuts and useful slogs when needed. Against India, both in 2005 and 2006, all these qualities came to the fore. Yet, he can still come in at number six as he did against South Africa in 2003 once and blast 82 from 40 balls. More significantly, he has settled at Test level, scoring a vital, match-saving hundred against Sri Lanka at Colombo.

He is talked in private circles within the PCB, as a future captain.

Precedence of Shoaib Malik over senior players may prove to be a double edged sword. Shoaib, with support of PCB and senior players, can do wonders for the team or the team may go further down if senior players take his appointment against their egos.

To me, Shoaib Malik’s situation is similar to Greame Smith’s rise to captaincy. Smith took reigns of South Africa from Shaun Pollock amidst World Cup defeat, match fixing scandals and the Hansie Cronje affair. Smith was 22 years old at that time, the youngest ever captain of South Africa, with no leadership experience under his belt. However he showed persistence and with support of the board and cooperation from seniors like Kallis and Pollock he took South Africa to #1 slot.

Best of luck Shoaib Malik, you will be needing it.

Cross Posted on Chowrangi.com

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