Cricketers aspiring to make the national grades will have to polish their fielding skills as their talents to bat or bowl well are no more enough to guide them through the selection process, a top Pakistan cricket official stressed on Thursday.
â€œGone are the days when players could force their way into the national team entirely through batting and bowling performances,â€ national selection committee chairman Wasim Bari told â€˜The Newsâ€™.
â€œIn modern day cricket, a playerâ€™s fielding ability has become a very important aspect and that is going to show in our selection process in the future,â€ said the former Test cricketer.
Bari added that national selectors are already becoming stricter when it comes to judging a playerâ€™s skills as a fielder while picking members for the national teams.
He emphasised the countryâ€™s junior players should work harder on their fitness and fielding because these two factors could make or break their chances of breaking into the big league in the future.
â€œI would like to tell our young cricketers that they should not expect a chance to play at the international level if they canâ€™t field well. It is that important.â€
Bari said 20 years back it wasnâ€™t the case. â€œI myself wasnâ€™t a good fielder initially. I didnâ€™t even know how to dive. But Hanif Muhammad taught me and I learnt,â€ he said.
Batting and bowling have long been considered as the gameâ€™s nuts and bolts but Bari pointed out that the game itself is changing. â€œThe whole concept of how you play cricket has changed in recent times. And it is not just the one-day version of the game. A teamâ€™s fielding performance is becoming a decisive factor in Test matches as well. Look at England, they failed to win against Sri Lanka because they (the Englishmen) fielded badly,â€ said Bari referring to Englandâ€™s failure to force a victory from a seemingly winning position against Sri Lanka in the Lordâ€™s Test earlier this month because of a series of dropped catches.
Bari stated that all the top teams have been focusing on improving their fielding in recent years. â€œEven teams like Bangladesh have achieved enormous improvement in this department of the game and that has really impressed me,â€ he said.
Pakistani cricketers have seldom been regarded among the worldâ€™s best fielders and most of the current national team players are no exception. Shoddy fielding was blamed as one of the major reasons for Pakistanâ€™s stunning 1-4 defeat at home against India earlier this year.
Stung by fiery criticism from various quarters over the teamâ€™s sloppy fielding, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) acted by roping in South African great Jonty Rhodes to help the players improve their fielding.
Rhodes, who pioneered the term â€˜fielding all-rounderâ€™ with his outstanding acrobatics in the field, is to coach the Pakistan team players in a conditioning camp in Lahore early next month besides holding several training sessions with the second string cricketers during a brief stint.
Bari said fielding remains one of Pakistanâ€™s grey areas. â€œI am not saying this as a chief selector but as an ex-Test cricketer that one of the Pakistan teamâ€™s biggest flaws lay in it is fielding,â€ said Bari, counted among the worldâ€™s best wicket-keepers of his times.
Bari refrained from specifically underlining the teamâ€™s weak links in terms of the playersâ€™ fielding abilities but said that the entire squad will have to show improvement like a well-oiled unit, saying, â€œPakistan can become one of the worldâ€™s best fielding side but that would need a lot of hard work.
Source:The NewsMore on:Pakistan, Wasim Bari
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