Fall of Pakistan, Sri Lanka worrying signs for cricket

Sri Lanka and Pakistan Cricket
Sri Lanka and Pakistan Cricket (PC: X)

As the ICC T20 World Cup nears the business end, the fortunes of the Asian teams make for some interesting case study. Three of them have made the Super Eights. With India, there are Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The continuing rise of the troubled Afghans is one of the most heartening stories in cricket in recent times, while Bangladesh are trying their best to shed the tag of underdogs.

At the other end of the spectrum are Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Former world champions in both formats, these two have failed to play like heavyweights. Pakistan have produced one or two surprises, but flattered to deceive more often than not, after winning the 2017 Champions Trophy. Sri Lanka have not come close to anything after winning the 2014 T20 World Cup.

These two are showing more signs of disarray than rebuilding and the immediate future doesn’t look promising for either of them. While the rise of Afghanistan and Bangladesh is good news, the demise of Pakistan and Sri Lanka — if that happens — will be damaging for the sport in places where it has widespread following and sponsorship potential.

It’s not a coincidence perhaps that both Pakistan and Sri Lanka have experienced internal instability in recent times. It affected social life and economic activities. Whether that is the sole reason for their falling graph in cricket can be the subject of a deeper and detailed study. But what it does point at is this and their dip in performance has happened simultaneously.

For the Latest Sports News: Click Here

Afghanistan vs New Zealand
Afghanistan vs New Zealand (PC: X)

Afghanistan as a country has been no better in terms of social stability, but their cricketers have somehow managed to punch above weight. It was seen in last year’s 50-over World Cup, where they humbled a few stronger teams. They have a sort of spirit to fight adversities, which was evident also in the performance of their football team against India in the World Cup qualifiers.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been studies in stark contrast. Nobody writes them off yet because of their past records, but in recent ICC events and other tournaments like the Asia Cup, they have not even been close to be counted as contenders. Not just the limited-over formats, neither of the two made any impact in the ICC Test Championship since it was introduced.

Lack of talent is a reason, but only to an extent. They still have able players. But their performance and overall appearance is increasingly suggesting that there is something wrong with the system. There is decadence somewhere, which has not been addressed by the authorities. It is getting progressively worse and hindering the development of their upcoming generation.

Looking at cricket as a game getting into the Olympic fold and trying to spread its wings, and not as a fan of any one country, these are worrying signs. The game needs new teams — the USA making it to the Super Eights of the T20 World Cup being an example — but not at the cost of teams which contributed to its growth over a long time. How soon the powers that be try to solve this will determine which way the future of this sport is headed.

Also Read: Indian batters go full throttle at nets before Super 8 tie against Afghanistan