Imad: Pakistan have ‘moved back’ in T20 cricket, need to get rid of fear of failure

Pakistan

Imad Wasim came out of retirement for the T20 World Cup 2024 only to become part of “the lowest point” Pakistan cricket has hit during his career, but hopes that something good comes out of the reflections that follow because “you can’t get any lower than this”. Imad has called for a total reset in the way Pakistan play white-ball cricket, especially the mindset and approach because a side that “used to rule T20 cricket” has fallen behind the rest of the world.

“I’m giving my personal opinion so don’t make these the headlines,” he said at a press conference a day before their last league game against Ireland in Lauderhill. “It’s all your mindset. What mindset do you want to play the game with? You either play fire with fire, or you play your way. I personally believe that you should play fire with fire. And even if you lose, you can sit down and say to yourself that on that day we were not good enough.

“The problem is our team is so good, our players are so good, that we are good enough to play any kind of cricket. We haven’t tried that but the thing is you have to try that, you have to get rid of the fear of failure. In everything – batting, bowling, fielding, you have to get rid of fear of failure. Personnel change doesn’t change anything, just changing the mindset can change a lot of things. The same ball can be hit for a six, a four, a single, and that same ball can take a wicket and be a dot ball.

“We compete with the world’s best teams. Their mindset has changed over time. We used to rule in T20 cricket. I think we have moved back a little now. Maybe our mindset [needs a change] – in all three areas. I won’t say any one area. If you change the mind of the player, you can achieve things beyond your limits. I always believe in this. You can talk a lot, but it is what it is – today, we are out of the tournament and whatever happens in the next World Cup, whoever plays, however they play, I think if we go with the right approach, the results will be better for us.”

One reason for the fear of failure could be the personal attacks that follow. Imad was told about reports that he was played despite not being fully fit. He was asked if he felt the team, but in particular he and Mohammad Amir, both of whom came out of retirement, felt they have not repaid the trust put in them. He was also asked if his comeback was limited to this World Cup alone, and if he was going to go back into retirement after the Ireland game on Sunday.

Despite there being a sense of “too soon” to these questions, Imad answered them calmly. He rubbished the allegations around lack of fitness, said he had not yet thought of his plans after the World Cup, and also pointed out cricket is a team game and is not won or lost by individuals. He reminded people that they were more disappointed than them, and that they should not be disrespected.

“Me personally and our team, including me, are very disappointed and sad,” he said. “And the whole public is sad that we didn’t perform well and believes we are guilty. We are more disappointed than you are. This is our profession after all. But I would also like to say that we are human beings, we can make mistakes and we also get affected by these things.”

Imad himself was a TV analyst when he had retired, and used to criticise his current team-mates. When asked to put that analyst hat on to review this performance, he suggested that that kind of dispassionate analysis was perhaps what was the need of the hour.

“I have always talked about cricket [as an analyst],” Imad said. “I have never talked about players individually or body-shamed anyone or anything like that. Cricketers have to do their job and analyse the cricket. They have to tell you what is right and what is wrong without getting personal.

“I think we should play the game the way world cricket is going. We should sort out the way we play the game, the way we should bring awareness, the way we should chase, the way we should approach the game…. We will sit and sort out our approach. Other teams also go out in early stages, but I don’t think Pakistan have exited this way. We are extremely disappointed.

“But is it all about how you react after the fall? This is bad but who knows this could be big for Pakistan? We could revamp, revisit and start playing white-ball cricket the way it should be played.”

Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo

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