New to the blogging business so was out of ideas on what the next topic should be then suddenly one of my favourite ermmm in fact everyone’s favourite Imran Nazir came into mind; who is very highly demanded by fans as many have been questioning his exclusion from the World Cup squad and I am here to answer those questions through some humour, stats and my personal unbiased views. Nazir is a very talented batsman and a brilliant fielder; something Pakistan is amazing at.....NOT! Nazir’s striking ability is immense, maybe that’s why we love him as he gives Pakistan that edge at the top of the order which can give the two BOOM BOOM’s of Pakistan (most dangerous players in the world in last 10 overs according to cricinfo) to free their arms in the last quarter of the game with no mercy on the opposition!
OK lets have a look at his career overall. Since he’s favourite as a limited overs batsman so we will concentrate on his ODI career; Debut against Sri Lanka on 29 March 1999 at the age of 17 (comparing to Amir) under Wasim Akram. Opened batting with Shahid Afridi (what an ideal pair to open an inning with providing they “CLICK”) chasing 254, but no luck on that day as he was out on the 3rd ball for 2! Playing alongside players like Inzi, Ijaz, Wasim, Yousuf, Saqi and Moin then u expect him to learn from them and predict he might go a long way but sadly having an average of just over 24 after 79 ODI’s with ONLY 2 tons (one big innings of 160 against Zimbabwe in WC 07 aka Inzi’s last ODI) and 9 half centuries no way near come to mind predicting his future!
17 is a very young age to come onto international scene, at such age with so much responsibility and expectations maybe too much for a few but Amir was exceptional and up to task providing he stopped himself from following his leaders who he knew are misleading him! Anyways that’s a different issue but Imran recently regretted making his debut at a premature age saying it had a negative effect on his career rather than positive! Shall we blame the selectors or shall we call it a natural Pakistani tradition?? If it wasn’t for tradition then Imran, Wasim, Waqar, Afridi, Razzaq, Malik, Aqib, Miadad, Ijaz, Saqi and Gul would not have had such promising long careers so far who all made their debuts before turning 19 (lets not talk about their real age and stick to the PAKISTANI AGE which mathematically works out to be REAL AGE – 3 YEARS = PAKISTANI AGE [but in Shahzaib case -6 Years, who at the age of so called “20” looks older than my dad who is 43 :D]) so concluding early age debuts is an individual thing as it works out for some and may not for others and we can only find out in the long term which clearly states that it didn’t help Imran and the case of a 14 year old Hasan Raza can be argued as well!
In his own words he said "The truth is I was not ready for international cricket at that time, my technique was faulty and I didn't have the mental strength or understanding of the game”. However coming back to tradition most Pakistani youngsters learn their trade in international arena whilst other countries let their players develop in domestic before bursting them into the international arena but in Pakistan if you are ignored at young age, then consider yourself not playing for Pakistan, look at the case of the “Daddy of Swing: Anwar Ali! Who with his amazing swing bowling display in Under19 World Cup final successfully defended 109 in a 50 overs game against a familiar country known as India which is an honour for any Pakistani! I mean can you ask for more than that to be given a fair chance for Pakistan??
Aaah lets not forget Nazir’s love for Pakistan when he decided to prioritise the unofficial league ICL over Pakistan even though he knew the outcome but then in a way you can’t blame him as if he’s not getting an opportunity for Pakistan then why not earn some quick buck for a few appearances and also improved his hitting as I remembered his classy inning of 83 off 38 against ICL Mumbai and his 111 in ICL final 3! But if Mr Ilyas useless son in law Imran Farhat can have a regular crack at international cricket after ICL stint then why not him as we all know who the talented one is! Hopefully they both have received all the hard earned bucks as some players were willing to go legal against the league as ICL still owe them their salaries after they were busted in the recession!
Jokes apart and getting back to the topic and looking at his List A stats which looks as dark as his international stats where he is averaging just over 26 in 148 appearances with 7 centuries and 15 half centuries which is shameful for a player of his calibre. After the stint with ICL he was given another lifeline which one gets in video games nowadays and he made a comeback to ODI squad against Sri Lanka last year, where in 5 ODI’s he managed to get 111 runs at an average of 22 with no 50’s! His aggressive approach (which is why we love him) mostly cost him his wicket and he’s thinking of reassessing his style of play! Do u guys want to see him blocking the hell out of the ball like Misbah or Yousuf in ODI’s? I think it might help him in the long term but currently at the age of 29 how much of a future has he got lift in him?? Obviously no one can be like Razzaq and Afridi who’s been around since I know cricket exist thanks to Pakistan age policy! Or maybe Nazir should apply Shahzaib style of age but he might be too late for that, Shahzaib must be smirking now thinking I was 5 when Imran was born as I practiced Azaan in his ear (something Muslims perform in a new born baby’s ear)!!
Thank God as it’s about time that Nazir has finally realised that he’s a mature batsman now, which is a standard feeling once you get married and have more responsibility on your shoulders. He said "I am a more mature batsman now and if I get a chance to play again for Pakistan I will play in sensible fashion and cement my place in the team, I am ready to curb my natural instincts to play again for Pakistan, But now after a lot of ups and downs in 11 years of international cricket I realise a batsman with limited range of shots cannot survive. Plus your shot selection has to be sensible, you must have the patience to wait for the bad ball to hit, not try a slog every ball as I used to do previously."
It’s a fair question to ask the exclusion of Nazir but looking at it from a logical point of view, it maybe unfair on other openers such as Hafeez or Ahmed Shehzad who both earned a ticket for the World Cup through their performances. Hafeez since his comeback in England has done extremely well against SA and NZ in T20’s whilst didn’t live up to expectations in test series against NZ so we wish him best of luck in the 5 ODI’s remaining. Regarding Shehzad; he was outstanding in domestic circuit and we saw in 3rd T20 how much of a crucial effect he can have on the team especially as a youngster who has many years left in him. Ooh and lets not forget Kami, another opening option who plays in an attacking fashion who is much more reliable and multi task player as he comes in a package of buy one get one free because of his keeping (lets not talk about the holes in his gloves)!
The stats which is the main thing in cricket debates go against Nazir but we still LOVE him as his style is unique and on his day with that style of play he can be a match winner but the problem is that everyday is not Christmas and in Nazir’s case it doesn’t come that often as it does for Sehwag, Afridi or Razzaq! Maybe it’s to do with luck which is a huge factor in sport especially cricket.
All I want to say is that there is HOPE and we wish Nazir all the best for the future and hope we will see him wearing that green shirt, blasting Pakistan into a victory singly handily (<What an ideal script for Cricinfo on his return) aur waisay bhi UMEED PEH DUNIA QAAYEM HAI, TOU PICTURE ABHI BAAQI HAI MERAY DOST!! So fingers cross INSHALLAH he will get ONE MORE CHANCE!