19 April 2007

Shoaib Malik

The unassuming Malik has been handled the poisoned chalice. The good thing is, he knows its poisoned, and its up to him what to do with it.
So what's his deal? It's not like he is a regular in the Test side. True that in the less than twenty matches that he has played since his debut, he has done pretty much everything including open the innings. True also, that he is a chameleon capable of reinvention in the one-day scene, without complaining too much. Also true that he raises his game against the ol' enemy. So why him?
Because Khan did not want it? That explains why he isn't captain, not why Malik is. So who were the other contenders? Afridi. But which one? The one who scored the Karachi hundred against us or the impostor? A disgraced Shoaib Akhthar? But why not Yousuf? Too religious in an anti-religious environment? Perhaps. Anyway, Malik seems to be the best of the lot, but he won't not a puffed-chested Flintoff-Imran-Ganguly-Smith style imposing captain. He has always melted into the background, but it remains to be seen how captaincy will change all that.

There are two other captaincy probables around the world who will fall into the "utility cricketer" bracket. Paul Collingwood is good enough to claim his spot in the team as a batsman, but still manages gives out the impression that he is just a nudger-nudler; and so does Scott Styris though he can probably out hit both Oram and Craig McMillan. The difference is that Malik is just 25 while both Collingwood and Styris are on the wrong side of thirty - and that will work against them when their respective selection committees sit down to discuss captaincy.

I guess Dravid too started out as a utility cricketer; having to keep wickets in order to be on the flight to South Africa in 2003.

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