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PSL 7 – Better know when old is not gold, but awful

Written by Omair Alavi

They might ‘have been’ good players, but besides Shoaib Malik and Imran Tahir, most of the oldies have failed to deliver in the seventh edition

Synopsis

They might ‘have been’ good players, but besides Shoaib Malik and Imran Tahir, most of the oldies have failed to deliver in the seventh edition

They came, they performed and they conquered, but that was in the past. In the present, they have overstayed their welcome. Yes, we are talking about those cricketers who believe they have a lot to offer but fail to perform when it’s time to deliver.

They are not just from Pakistan but from other countries as well and because they are delaying in quitting the game, it is affecting the careers of youngsters who are waiting for a chance they deserve.

The players who understand their bodies and continue to impress are the ones who played age-level cricket for Pakistan in the 90s – Imran Tahir and Shoaib Malik. The former had to leave the country in search of a better opportunity and eventually made his debut in 2011 for South Africa.

Meanwhile, Malik was lucky enough to represent Pakistan in the era of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Saqlain Mushtaq. These two players have had a great time in the Pakistan Super League’s seventh edition (PSL 7) so far, where they have performed better than many youngsters and lifted their side whenever they had an opportunity to.

The 42-year-old leggie is amongst the top wicket-takers of the event, with 13 wickets in eight matches at an average of 17. Whereas the 40-year-old batting maestro has been good in all departments, be it batting, bowling or fielding. His 276 runs at a strike-rate of nearly 140 and his two wickets and four catches in eight matches have been instrumental in his side’s resurgence in the tournament.

The other person who realised that it’s better to quit on time than to be kicked out is Shahid Afridi, who after impressing in his second match against Islamabad United, decided to take a break from the league. In what became his final PSL match, he bowled four overs and conceded 27 runs while claiming two wickets, proving that he is a utility cricketer despite his advancing age.

Although the 40-something (even he isn’t sure of his age) went for 67 runs in his comeback match against the same team earlier in the event, he foresaw the future and decided to take a break right on time.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for the ‘magnificent seven’, who, unlike Afridi, believe they can win matches despite their growing age and are still world-beaters, when in fact the world is beating them on a daily basis.

The top player on that list is none other than Kamran Akmal, the man who nearly did the right thing by calling it quits when he was demoted in the category ahead of the tournament. However, he had a successful negotiation with the Peshawar Zalmi management and returned to the team.

It would have been great had the 40-year-old wicketkeeper-batter had stayed retired as he dropped easy catches and couldn’t score quick runs, which cost his team the match. In four matches so far, he managed to score just 76 runs at an average of 19; once his side replaced him with a younger Mohammad Haris, their fortune changed!

Then comes the 37-year-old Sohail Tanvir who remembers obscene gestures but seems to have forgotten how to bowl in franchise cricket. He seems to be the weakest link in the Quetta Gladiators squad this season and after six matches, was able to take just two wickets for his team. He went wicketless in five contests, averaging over 100 runs per wicket and had an economy rate of over 9 runs per over.

And then there was Sohail Khan, the nearly 38-year-old former Pakistan fast-bowler who not only often looks an unfit individual but seems to have lost any touch with his past self. Representing Peshawar Zalmi this season, he seemed like a player who had no clue why he was in the team and what was he supposed to do, and that cost his team in the matches he was in the final XI. He went for nearly 14 runs per over without taking a wicket.

He might have taken the highest number of wickets in PSL, but it took Wahab Riaz four games to get his first scalp this season. Going at an economy rate of nine runs per over, it seems he is unable to lead the side as well as spearhead the bowling attack.

In all honesty, it would be fair to relinquish captaincy and play as a specialist bowler or bow out and make a name for himself as a TV analyst.

If he continues going for valuable runs in the PSL, where he has so far taken five wickets in seven matches at an average of over 50 runs per wicket, some people might not take him seriously even when he is analysing a game.

When the 41-year-old Mohammad Hafeez retired recently, he said that he was confident that he had a lot of cricket left in him. However, the way he is performing, it seems his confidence ditched him when he needed it the most.

He still plays in the one-day mode when others are racing ahead in the T20 mode. If Lahore Qalandars are unable to make it to the finals this time, it will be because of their sluggish middle-order comprised of Hafeez and Kamran Ghulam who more often than not slow the team’s progerss.

He hasn’t scored a fifty in the event, and out of his 142 runs in seven matches at an average of 28, nearly half have been either singles or doubles. That isn’t enough to warrant him a place in the final XI, let alone as a specialist batsman at number four.

Finally, something about the two foreign imports who seem lost when in the middle – England’s Samit Patel last represented his country in white-ball cricket in 2013, but in PSL, he is treated as someone who can change the course of the match. Yes, he did finish one of the encounters for Qalandars this season, but it doesn’t mean that he would be able to do it on a daily basis.

The 37-year-old has been clueless throughout the season and has played just two matches, where he contributed 26 runs and hasn’t taken a wicket yet, his primary job.

The biggest disappointment of this season has been Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi. Last year, the commentators were wondering why he wasn’t bowled more often and this time around the spectators are wondering whether the 37-year-old has sent an imposter in his place.

He has managed to score just 121 runs and taken five wickets in eight matches this season, and if he leaves for national duty next week, he would be doing a great service to Karachi Kings.

About the author

Omair Alavi