Covid-19 one of ‘biggest contributing factors’ to Pakistan team’s ‘dismal’ performances: PCB

Monitoring Desk

LAHORE: Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Cricket Committee Saleem Yousuf said on Tuesday that playing cricket during the Covid-19 pandemic was “one of the biggest contributing factors” to the team’s dismal performances, according to a press release issued by the cricketing body.

The national team came under heavy criticism recently for its performance during the tour in New Zealand. Pakistan lost the Twenty20 series 2-1 and went down heavily in both Tests. Speaking during the PCB Cricket Committee’s first meeting of the new year, Yousuf said the committee had “carried out a holistic but constructive, fact-based and objective review of the Pakistan men’s cricket team in the past 16 months”.

He admitted that the national team had not lived up to expectations that it would rank among the top three or four cricket-playing nations. “Nevertheless, we also need to take into consideration a number of other factors and the committee was of the view that cricket during the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the biggest contributing factors in the side’s dismal performances.

“All professional and high-performing athletes require an environment where they can prepare their best for the international stage, which was not the case for the last two tours and most definitely not at the last tour where players had been confined to their rooms for two weeks due to the policies of that particular Covid-free country,” the chairman said while referring to Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand.

Yousuf said that because of the pandemic, the team had to face “big losses” after captain Babar Azam, Imamul Haq, and Shadab Khan were unavailable for the Test matches and opener Fakhar Zaman was sidelined on the day of departure due to high fever.

“These big losses affected the team combinations that, in turn, resulted in the side’s overall below-par performance against a side that remained unbeaten in the past two-and-a-half years,” he added.

However, the chairman said the committee “strongly believed team selections and choice of players in the playing line-ups should have been made better”.

“The committee also believes more scientific and data-based work needed to be done on the players with improved communication.”

Yousuf said the PCB Cricket Committee would conduct another review of the team’s performance after the home series with South Africa which is scheduled to start from Jan 16. “It has already been relayed to the team management that there will be no points for second place,” the press release quoted him as saying.

The meeting was also attended by Pakistan head coach Misbahul Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis who gave feedback and input to the committee.

The meeting was also attended by other officials of the committee, including Umar Gul, Wasim Akram and Urooj Mumtaz. PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan and Director International Cricket Zakir Khan were also present.

The director informed the committee about the national side’s commitments in 2021. Additionally, PCB General Manager for Domestic Cricket Junaid Zia gave a presentation on the National High Performance Centre and PCB domestic season 2020-21, according to the press release.