Pakistan ended the tour of England on a high note by winning the last T20i by 5 runs. Muhammad Hafeez showed his class and experience once again with an unbeaten 86 of 52 deliveries. Haider Ali on his debut scored an impressive inning of 54 of 33 balls with 7 boundaries. A very well engineered win at the end.
In the Bowling department, Shaheen Afridi started off brilliantly by removing Bairstow with a perfect yorker in the first over. England managed to gain back the control of the game by the courtesy of Banton and Moeen Ali’s Innings however Wahab Riaz’s penultimate over changed the narrative in Pakistan’s favor. Haris Rauf defended 17 runs in the last over to enable Pakistan to share the series.
Out of the 6 contests played between Pakistan and England, including 3 Tests and 3 T20is, only 3 matches ended with a result. The Pakistani Cricket squad arrived in England on 28th June and played their last T20i on 1st September. During this period of more than two months, the two sides had more weather breaks than drink breaks. The Pakistani players had to quarantine themselves on arrival and play in a bio-secure bubble considering the global pandemic. Although everyone was looking forward to this special tour, it ended as one of the most frustrating tours, not only for players and fans but also for the umpires, who had to use their light meters more frequently than calling no-balls. A fan of the sport may wonder, and quite rightly so, why couldn’t this frustration be avoided by simply scheduling the series better. An idea would be to Google “wettest month in England” and choosing any other month.
The thrill of competition aside, Cricket, in essence, is a sport rich in calculations and techniques. It requires proper understanding and a close eye to enjoy it like a true fan. For the sport to grow globally, we must acknowledge that the attraction and love for this game develops slowly only after being able to watch a result yielding game. This requires attractive and competitive matches; matches that are uninterrupted by periods of non-play; matches that are not spent staring at the live telecast of a covered ground – or in the case of the local Pakistani broadcast, oversaturated with adverts. In hindsight, an objective review of an ad-break during Pakistani broadcast suggests that all we do is to eat biscuits, make calls, and join ex-cricketers in washing gigantic sheets of cloths.
On the other hand, Test Cricket struggles to attract people all around the globe except for the well-anticipated Ashes Series. Even diehard fans of the game are showing a lack of interest in the tests unless records are broken. Perhaps test cricket needs a bit of drama induced in it. With the introduction of T20s, T10s, and all the flashy cricketing leagues, the need of the hour is to make Test Cricket more flexible and entertaining as well. The officials of the game need to show more prowess towards tournament management and arranging exciting clashes other than just ‘Ashes’. A viewer that watches football being played in the rain, snow, or excruciating heat of Qatar, gets baffled to witness a ‘Tea Break’. Yes, the cricketers are ambassadors of the game but having tea breaks during competition only adds to our obsession with biscuits. A global sport that is highly dependent on weather and overall conditions need to have much more flexible rules and laws to make up for the lost hours.
Perhaps its time to make the ‘Gentleman’s Game’ a little more likable for a commoner.