Dubai: Rameez Raja, former Pakistan captain-turned-TV pundit, wants the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to send talent scouts in the interiors of their country to search for the natural and often unorthodox talents.
“In Asia, cricket flourishes through unorthodoxy. Pakistan have produced several unorthodox superstars, who instead of relying on coaching utilised their natural ability to become world beaters. So we’ll have to keep in mind that too.
“You’ll find several such [unorthodox] stars in interior Sindh, interior Punjab, interior Balochistan and interior parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who remain unable to make a way to the system or become part of mainstream cricket. It is very important to announce talent scouts who have the ability; who visit far-off areas of the country with the intent to nominate talent and then put that into mainstream cricket,” Raja noted on his YouTube channel ‘RamizSpeaks’.
Praising the PCB’s recent moves to improve the standard of cricket as well as engage their former greats into responsible positions, Raja suggested a four-pronged strategy to boost the game: good pitches, domestic cricket, administration and talent-hunt.
He said that the condition of pitches in Pakistan, both at the club and the domestic levels, were very bad and consequently cricket lovers remain unable to enjoy the top quality competitions. “At the club level you can’t even wear spikes as the pitches are so brittle that they get break. [The result is that] now at this level you mostly see tennis matches taking place on weekends because you need money to sustain clubs. The condition of these pitches has deteriorated so much that there is neither bounce nor the technique of the batsmen is challenged.
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‘‘There seems no balance between the bat and ball. Sometimes, the bowlers try to bounce and batsmen seem to drive them on front foot. The [end] result is that our batting suffers at the top tier level [international level].”
The 57-year-old, who has been a strong advocator of drop-in pitches in Pakistan for quite some time, reiterated his stance: “If your curatorship is not of a top quality level, then you’ll have to pay attention to drop-in pitches.”
Citing example of New Zealand, he said that previously they used to prepare seasonal pitches on rugby outfields but their cricket improved tremendously after they introduced drop-in pitches. “Now you see they’ve top quality bowling as well as good shot-making. This shows that a lot can be achieved through such pitches. However, I’ve not seen any mention of drop-in pitches in PCB’s short-term or long-term planning. It does not matter how big a first-class system you initiates, the goal will never be achieved unless you focus on pitches,” he said.
About country’s first class cricket structure, he said there was still a confusion as whether Pakistan would opt for regional cricket or it would once again encourage professional organizations. “First of all we’ll have to make it clear as to which side we’ll be taking the affair. Then, afterwards we’ll have to invest money; invite international stars and space out matches.
“There should be a booklet wherein schedule of all fixtures is published prior to the start of a season so that fan following is increased and everyone can also plan accordingly.”
Moving into cricket administration, Raja said it was not merely about managing things in the board. “Here, I’m talking about the administrators of club level, school level and those of first-class level, who have the keys of talent. Unless you’ve the passion; unless you’ve honesty of purpose and unless you consider it your duty to serve Pakistan cricket, you’ll not be able to deliver.”