Pakistan put up a terrible batting display in the series opener against England at Cardiff and were bundled out for 141 in the 36th over ultimately being hammered by 9 wickets as the home team blasted through the chase in just over 21 overs. The shocking performance of the visitors led to a lot of criticism by former players and analysts with the likes of Ramiz Raja, Shoaib Akhtar and Kamran Akmal slamming the Babar Azam-led unit. Former Pakistani opener and captain Salman Butt also joined the bandwagon and highlighted that poor performances by the team like the one in Cardiff will slowly but surely erode their fan base.
Only two Pakistani batsmen - Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan scored 20 or more in an otherwise hopeless batting display by Pakistan against what was best a ‘C’ team of England in Cardiff. Saqib Mahmood was the star with the ball and returned with 4 wickets.
Butt cautioned the Pakistani cricketers and stated that the team will lose more and more fans if they continued to lose in the manner in which they did in Cardiff.
“How do you make fans? You make fans by winning matches and that is why people follow you. If you don’t have a good victory ratio, if you aren’t a world-beater and good competitor you won’t have any fans. Fans will stay only till you get results and if you see the current state, Pakistan’s fan base is lower than before,” quoted Butt.
The left-handed batsman added that the star value of big players will also diminish if they don’t pull up their socks and start giving consistent performances.
“The star value of players is also lesser. Babar (Azam) has a good fan base because he is an outright performer. But if they don’t win and lose matches like they did against an inexperienced England team then it will hurt the team,” said Butt.
Batting first, Pakistan were bowled out for 141 in 35.2 overs on a pitch that was pretty decent for batting and Butt stated that the Pakistan team did not have the temperament to bat the full quota of 50 overs.
“Yes, it was a bad day but they also need to accept the fact and say it out loud and clear that they didn’t play well. We didn’t show fight with either bat or bowl. We don’t have the mentality to play the full 50 overs. No one talks about these things."
Butt further added that Pakistan had not played against quality full-strength opposition teams in the recent past and their victories also had come against weaker units.
“To be honest we haven’t played the past few series against a full-strength team and the victories have come against lesser teams, which were either not in full strength or who do not play cricket at a high level,” he added.
Butt also highlighted Pakistan’s over-dependance on the likes of Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi and asked for a collective performance from the unit.
“We have been over-reliant on Babar and Rizwan’s batting and only Shaheen Afridi has been picking up wickets consistently at the top. A team can’t function based on just three or four players,” stated Butt.