Organizations and institutions are judged by the good or harm they do to individuals and the atmosphere it creates as they impart decisions. Two years ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan carried out his long professed vision and shifted from the departmental domestic cricket to a regional cricket structure. Khan cited the example of Australian blueprints arguing that they have a competitive domestic structure and that is why they are among the best of the world. Now as two years have passed the question is; has the changes helped Pakistan to become the Champion as its Australian blueprints? Is the domestic structure the only difference between the two countries? Or are there more subtle grassroots organisational problems at play? Lastly, Does these changes improved the individual players’ life positively? The answers are very clear. Imran Khan’s decision despite his claims has no durable positive impacts on national or domestic cricket. In fact, it has worsened the already afflicted state as Pakistan’s recent results show a devastating downward trend. Imran Khan had called these results a teething effect but the question is how long the teeth will stay in the gum. It has been two years that the structure has changed and the recent results show a devastating state.
The changes were aimed to bring young talent to International cricket and improve the national team performance. However, the national team and the recent World Cup T20 squad show no such prospects as the selected team largely consisted of rotational old players except the lately inculcated Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir who actually came to prominence in the last PSL rather than in the Domestic Cup. Moreover, since the change in the structure has occurred, Pakistan’s figures have dropped drastically instead of the intended improvement. Pakistan has lost all the test series against the top 4 ranking teams standing fifth on the chart at the moment. In the last nine ODIs series, the team has won only three, and that too against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and struggling South Africa, ranking sixth on the table. The only commendable format left for the team is T20 hailing six wins in the last 13 games since the changes have been employed. However, before that they had record eleven straight series wins in T20 format. The performance of the team has deteriorated as the facts say.
Imran Khan while defending the decision had said that the Australian domestic cricket had the same format and that is why they are among the best teams in the world but what Khan missed, as he always does, was that complexity of the problem. Simple solutions to complex problems are even worst than no solution. Pakistan’s cricket system is fraught with countless subtle problems that need to be tackled. The basic issues that surfaced during recent years include, among many others, the lack of infrastructure and funds, the incessant nepotism and corruption, and the absurd decision-making process. Additionally, the absence of the diffusion of the power in the PCB is the most primary and perilous problem of all. The recent abrupt changes of the senior coach staff and the resignation of Wasim Khan, the only valuable asset PCB has got, amid the crucial World Cup days alludes all these discrepancies. Concentrating on one aspect of the system and making it similar to a cited blueprint and thinking that the team will ‘win the 2023 World Cup’ is delusional.
Moreover, The end of departmental cricket has snatched the bread from the mouths of more than 900 first-class cricketers and 300 staff members. This unemployment of the professional cricketers has discouraged the young cricketers who see them as the ideal. Hafeez had highlighted this issue in a meeting with the Prime Minister in order to change the mind of the premier but the always-right PM has ignored the problem calling it a teething effect. Calling mass unemployment the teething effect is very deplorable. This ‘teething effect’ and ‘gabrana nahi’ remarks is his ploy of shying away from the repercussions of his decisions. Concludingly, the changes in domestic cricket do more damage than good, therefore the decision should be reverted. The Government should invest in domestic cricket rather than depleting it to a handful of teams. The more teams will play in competitions, the more players will get the chance to recognize with their skills-set and earn a livelihood. Domestic cricket needs a revival and investments more than ever today.