New Zealand vs. Pakistan – Who Do We Blame?
Pakistan has lost 12 of its last 14 international fixtures, with the most recent one being the fourth defeat in the New Zealand T20Is. And one of the two wins we did get was a DLS win – which, if you want to be obnoxiously picky enough, you can consider a non-real one. Now, we can look at this in two ways: one, winning and losing is part of every sport (blah blah, yada yada), and sooner or later, the law of averages will rain its blessings down on our fortunes. Or two, this is an inexcusable abomination of an international run, and a detailed and meticulous investigation must be made into the reasons for this constant state of failure. Fortunately, however, if there’s one thing we know how to do here in the Pakistan cricket fraternity, it’s finding things to blame, and I’ve taken this selfless excursion upon me. Of course, I don’t mean to provide solutions or alternatives or remedies for the problems I identify – we don’t do that here.
- Everything that lasts longer than the Pakistani T20 middle order for not setting a good enough precedent. This includes but is not limited to Ahmed Shehzad’s international career, a game of the Abu Dhabi T10, or Steve Smith’s first innings as a Test opener. The Middle Order* is a fragile thing, a bud that requires some serious nudging to open. If all it sees around it is a world of fleeting impermanence, what can it do but replicate?
*Please note that this only applies if there is an actual middle order playing in the game; not applicable to three openers stacked on top of each other, wearing a middle-order trench coat.
- The Ground DJs in New Zealand, because while they’re having a lot of fun (with the John Cena music at Glenn Phillips’ entrance and the Big Show music at Azam Khan’s), they showed very little regard for everyone else involved. Maybe I don’t want to laugh at funny little musical wrestling gags when my team is getting hammered or is being rendered unable to perform the aforementioned hammering. Next time, I believe visiting teams should also have playlist rights to ensure that the psychological impact of the music operates on a level playing field; for example, next time, we should be able to play every Himesh Reshammiya song that the Kiwis made TikToks on during the IPL.
- The First-Over Wicket, because every time we get one, it generates a general consensus between the bowlers to not take any more. Viewers also use up their celebratory adrenalin within the first 6 balls, and it leads to (a) a general atmosphere of gloom and bleakness after the wicket falls and (b) the bowling scorecard not moving any further. And speaking of scorecards…
- I blame the scorecard for starting at 0/0 (0.0) instead of at 103/2 (15.1). Because our bowlers have decided to only bowl somewhat normally at the death, I think the visual indicators during a game should facilitate that. Here is how this will work: before the start of play, all bowlers should be made to hear chants of death, death, death. Not only will this acquaint them with how their fans feel all the time, but it will also brainwash them into thinking that they’re bowling after the tenth over, which may boost their performance ever so slightly. Bowling is a state of mind. If doing it well requires a general sense of unease and dread, then so be it.
- The Pakistan and New Zealand cricket boards for developing whatever this form of anxious attachment/codependency is. One day, we will tell our grandchildren that there was a time when the Green Shirts and Black Caps played teams that weren’t each other, but on the day of the 11th T20I in the DafaNews/Nelson Paints/TikTok/KFC 3rd Annual Bilateral Series between the two teams, they might find this a little difficult to believe.
- Finally, I blame Babar Azam. But if that’s not applicable, I blame Shaheen Afridi. But if I feel particularly inclined towards a particular PSL franchise, I can blame both. But if I have a sudden flashback to the glory of Lahore’s two PSL trophies, I blame Babar Azam. But if I want to annoy the most Twitter users per square meter, I also blame Babar Azam. But if I want to suddenly attach a negative value judgment to the act of bowling, I blame Shaheen Afridi. But if I have had to listen to Ramiz Raja’s commentary for more than ten minutes, I blame Babar Azam. If I want to be mad at the phenomenon of winning-toss-but-losing-match, I blame Shaheen Afridi, but if I want to be mad at the phenomenon of never-winning-the-toss, I blame Babar Azam. But-
With one T20I left in the series, I’m sure the list will not end here. Even worse, with a T20 World Cup left in the year, we might have to turn this into an encyclopedia. Perhaps I genuinely do want to begin mass movements against the problems I have identified, or perhaps I am just blinding the aforementioned masses to the actual, non-satirical things that can be blamed. Either way, it is very important to the institution of Pakistan cricket that everyone is mad at all times, and as far as I’m concerned, this is a solid start.