Painful comments - Dr A Q Khan - Monday, April 25, 2011

Even though these events took place some time ago and passions have meanwhile cooled, I am venturing to comment on them anyway.

The first topic is that of the Cricket World Cup and the performance of our team. People were hopeful that the team will win, at least against India. People had even started wearing team shirts, composed new songs.However, it was not to beIf one looks at the performance of our team over the past few years, one notices more failures than successes. After every defeat the captain addresses the press and says they have learnt a lot from this defeat and would rectify those mistakes in the future. The next time it is the same story – sloppy fielding, dropped catches, irresponsible shots. If, by some fluke, they win a match or a series, then they sing their own praises. In 1992, thanks to circumstances and the bad performances of the other teams, we won the World Cup.

Contrary to claims, the team that went to participate in this World Cup was not inexperienced. Apart from the two or three new ones, the players have been playing for more than a decade. Besides, Wahab Riaz more than justified his presence.Nobody could foresee what a pathetic performance it would be, both in batting and in fielding. No team could possibly win a match against India if you give five chances to Tendulkar. Most disappointing was the performance of our manager and coaches. Bowlers were throwing no-balls and wide balls, batsmen were playing irresponsible shots. Umar Gul lost the match for us in the first few overs but Afridi persisted with him, ignoring Razzaq.

For two or three years there has been a systematic plot to sideline Razza by not allowing him to bowl a eight to ten overs and to bat at two- or three-down. He is a match-winner and a top-class all-rounder. Together with Shoaib Akhtar, he had been groomed at KRL and he had won many matches for us. The intriguers managed to sideline him and dropped him from the West Indies tour. The one who should have been dropped was Afridi, an incompetent captain with no talent for planning. Look at the difference between him and M S Dhoni.

The match that seemed to be in our pocket was given away in a reckless manner. Before a match or a series, the captain and almost all the players talk to the press in a bragging, arrogant manner. Humility is a virtue and Allah likes humbleness. Team members should reply in terms of the difficulty of forecasting the outcome of a cricket match; as the saying goes: “Cricket is by chance.” “We will try our best to play a good game. We need your prayers” are appropriate replies. Contrast this to our cricketers behaving as winners even before the match has started and then, when defeated, coming back with a sour expression. This time they were lucky in that the public and the government still gave them a good welcome. They had already scattered to avoid hooting and a bad reception, but quickly gathered again and proceeded to Lahore where they were warmly received.

It should always be remembered that “There is no such thing as a graceful defeat – defeat is always losing.” Historically we fooled ourselves by referring to the disgraceful and humiliating defeats of 1965, 1971 and Kargil as glorious victories. Had we lost the match at the last ball, we could have said that it had been a good competition and fight. Our team was not that of Holland, Canada, Kenya or Zimbabwe. The Pakistanis were professional and experienced players. Afridi totally lacked leadership and planning. We saw him standing in the field as if struck by lightning, unable to react or lead his men from the front. He reacted only to Wahab’s fine performance.

The problem with our present players is that most of them lack proper grooming and etiquette. They can’t plan or foresee things and easily succumb to pressure, get nervous and let the game collapse like a house of cards. There is no consistency in their performance. The Pakistan Cricket Board should not allow players to be interviewed and brag. Only the manager and the captain should be allowed to give short, precise statements. If they are unable to communicate fluently in English to an English-speaking audience, they should ask someone to translate their remarks for them. After all, the French, the Chinese, the Japanese, national leaders, although they speak English well, keep an interpreter to translate their statements.

In a few days’ time our hockey team will be going to Malaysia to participate in the King Azlan Shah Tournament. My advice to them would be the same: don’t brag and don’t indulge in loose talk. Don’t drag religion into the game by praying on the field. These are simply acts of hypocrisy. Prayer is a personal relationship between you and Allah and it should be limited to a mosque or a private place. We all saw how the openly displayed prayers by cricket players and the public were of no avail. “You get what you strive for” is Allah’s edict. Ansar Abbasi, a well-known and respected investigatory journalist of The News, explained in a commendable way in one of his articles why the prayers (of hypocrites, liars, adulterers, the corrupt) were not, and could not, be answered by the Almighty. In my childhood, whenever there was a drought, people offered Namaz-e-Istasqa. Often it rained even before they reached home. My brother witnessed the same phenomenon in Dhahran (Saudi Arabia) in the early fifties. In Surah Nisa, Allah Almighty has clearly warned us: “Allah accepts the repentance (and prayers) of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards. To them will Allah turn in mercy, for Allah is full if knowledge and wisdom. Of no effect is the repentance (or prayers) of those who continue to do evil until death faces them, and then they say: ‘Now I have repented indeed.’ Nor for those who die rejecting faith; for them have We prepared a punishment most grievous.”

The point I would like to stress is that one has to be sincere before his prayers are answered by Allah. In Surah Maida, the Almighty says: “Why turn they not to Allah (for prayers and repentance) and seek his forgiveness? For Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.” And in Surah Tauba: “Know they not that Allah does accept repentance (and prayer) from his votaries and receives their gifts of charity and that Allah is verily He, the oft-returning, the most merciful.” Those who were praying, or who want to pray, must follow what Allah has advised them to do in Surah Mumtahinah: “Our Lord! Make us not a (test and) trial for the unbelievers, but forgive us (and accept our prayers), our Lord, for You are the excelled in might, the Wise.”


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