Last year was probably Pakistan’s best ever and worst ever in a cricketing sense. We all know that under the watchful eye of old man Misbah, the Test team rose to the best in the world. However, in an effort to prove to us that they haven’t really changed, they then subsequently lost five in a row.
The ODI side was also only a finger nail away from missing Champions Trophy qualification. Let’s not even discuss the shambles of the ICC World T20.
In any event, it’s over.
You can put a cork in last year and store that bottle somewhere deep in your basement. Let it ferment a while. Possibly for about 20 years. Then re-open it over a feed of biryani at damaad’s villa and explain to him why Pakistan of 2036 is so much worse than Pakistan of 2016. You know it will be.
But 2016 was yesterday and 2036 is too far ahead, so let’s just focus on 2017.
Unsure of what the coming year will hold in a cricketing sense? Well, I’ve consulted with the cricketing gods and here is what they tell me will happen, country by country:
Misbah will retire, but Younis Khan won’t. His gift to 2017 will be to mistakenly join the IPL draft when he accidentally nominates “Australia” as his nationality on the entry form. The Pune Super Giants pounce and bid USD $1.2 million for his services. In his first match, Younis will make the first triple hundred in tournament history and celebrate by doing a walking handstand, backwards, around the stadium. In the post match interview, he will state that “push ups are yesterday’s fad”.
Fawad Alam will continue to pile on the runs in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy. This will be a source of utter embarrassment for the national selection panel as they refuse to select him on the grounds of over manicured facial hair. Inzimam will appear on national television acknowledging that although they let Misbah wear a beard that “in all honesty looked rather weird“, a line in the sand was needed to be drawn. It will force Yasir Shah to abandon his plans of sporting a green mohawk in the Champions Trophy.
The hype surrounding Mohammad Amir will die a quick death after pundits acknowledge that an average of over 38 for his 10 Tests in 2016 was not what they were expecting. After being sacked from the team, he will return as a medical professional, assisting players to recover from suspected career ending knee injuries using secret methods that he perfected at the Gabba.
Virat Kohli will step down as the Indian captain, noting that the opportunity to be a Vice President at India Cements was too big to ignore. When asked what tasks the Vice President role entails, Virat said “I’m not sure, but it will allow me to wear sensible pants for a change”.
Ravi Shastri will continue to search for meaningful employment with the BCCI after being overlooked for the coaching job in 2016. He will finally land a role as ground announcer at Wankhede Stadium, after posting a Youtube video of himself lip syncing to Taher Shah’s “Eye to Eye” that goes viral.
De-monitisation will continue to take its toll, with Brett Lee starring in the Bollywood film “I’m all for plastic“. It will flop, but not before Shane Warne thinks it is a documentary about his face.
Voting to leave the EU means that the team representing England and Wales can no longer claim to be the best side in Europe. This title will now vest with Ireland.
Alastair Cook will hold onto the English captaincy for the year, citing the fact that he is the only English born player left in the side.
England will look at taking their all-rounder selection policies to a new level. Not content with the multi-talented Woakes, Stokes, Ali and Bairstow in the team, it will be a pre-requisite that every player picked must be able to execute on at least two cricketing disciplines, no matter how poorly. Therefore, Piers Morgan will be selected on his ability to both remain fiends with Kevin Pietersen while hacking into phones.
James Anderson will start bowling Chinamen in an effort to take wickets when not bowling on greentops.
The fascination of trying every known player at number 6 will continue. The Australian Prime Minister will offer Stuart Binny citizenship and subsidised lodging if he will take up the challenge. Binny declines once he learns that it is a condition that he also change his surname to Marsh.
Glenn Maxwell will get a surprise recall to the Test team after David Warner goes down with a hand injury after punching Hashim Amla. When asked why he threw the punch, Warner replied “I thought he was impersonating Hashim Amla”.
Following the retirement of Brendan McCullum, the Kiwis will go from being known as the nice guys of world cricket to utter brutes when they introduce the Haka war dance before every match. In a T20 against Sri Lanka, young off spinner Dhananjaya de Silva will inadvertently turn his back on the ceremony when he bends down to grab a drink from a Gatorade bottle. For his petulance, Rod Latham will bring him down with a driving tackle that breaks his collar bone and ruins his year.
Ross Taylor will reveal that he is reverting back to his full name of Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor. He kindly asks the cricket media if they will refer to him at LRPLT for short. Harsha Bhogle gets it wrong when he gets the “P” and “L” in the wrong order during a press conference. For his petulance, Rod Latham brings him down with a driving tackle that breaks his collar bone and ruins his year.
Cricket South Africa announce a controversial new “White Quota System”, where every national team must have no more than one player “of a colour that even loosely resembles low melanin levels in their skin.” Farhaan Berhardien needs to google the word melanin to see what this means for his career. He discovers that irrespective of the amount of melanin in his skin, his career is still going nowhere
Vernan Philander’s special diet of “eat everything in sight” appears to be working as his Test bowling average drops into the teens but his cholesterol rises into the 40’s.
In an effort to attract more Test cricket, Bangladesh vote to change their name back to East Pakistan. The marketing brochure describes Chittagong as “a safe place for all touring sides to play if you can ignore the smog“.
Subsequent to the name change, the Pakistani army invade to “reclaim what is rightfully ours“. This move has the unintended consequence of making Shakib al Hasan Pakistan’s greatest ever all-rounder.
DJ Bravo releases his much awaited follow up single to “Champion“. It is called “Ninth” as a tribute to the current West Indian ODI ranking.
Jason Holder rescinds his Barbadian citizenship so that he can become a South African,stating that he hopes to use the move as a pathway into the English Test side.
Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe
Nothing interesting ever happens in Sri Lanka. Why should 2017 be any different?
Originally published in Dawn