Sport is billed as the one of the prime mover of news and every sporting activity is examined thoroughly. In Pakistan cricket craze knows no bounds and cricketers are usually held in high esteem as accomplished celebrities. One of the main reasons of the popularity of cricketers is the extremely superlative jargon employed to describe activities of cricketers playing a match. They are credited with executing ‘glorious’ drives and throwing ‘unplayable’ balls. The jargon rubs off on the reputation of players that is usually noted as rating.
As the cricketing jargon implies, rating process is also overblown and is sometimes very far-off the actual performance of a player. The media skills of certain players are also instrumental in enhancing their image which is quite distant from reality. The praise heaped on them is disproportionate to their exploits in the field. The most disappointing result of the whole exercise is that high hopes are pinned on such players and when they are dashed their fans feel cheated.
In the annals of Pakistani cricketers who were rated very high but performed poorly were Mansoor Akhtar and Haroon Rashid in the past and the current example is that of Umar Akmal. He was widely touted as a phenomenal talent and was expected to remain on top for quite some. But he failed to come up to the expectations of his admirers as his performance average attests. An average of 34.59 in 116 ODIs (just 2 centuries), 35.82 in 16 Tests with just one century, and 26.82 in 82 T20Is, clearly reveal that he was grossly over-rated and is proof that he did not make good on the ample opportunities that he was given.
Geoffrey Boycott made more name as a commentator than a star batsman for England. Hailing from north of England, though he scored 8,114 runs in 108 test matches but he was widely believed to be a selfish opening batsman. His slow scoring was proverbial and once he was dropped from his side after scoring a double century. He was also known to be afraid of fast bowling and always came up with back-pain excuse when West Indian test battery of fast bowlers was to be faced.
It also is becoming clear by the day that the passionate reaction to the ban of five years on Mohammad Amir for cheating was misplaced. He was immediately compared to Wasim Akram and cricket-lovers in Pakistan mourned his ban. Unfortunately, his return to the game has not given encouragement to his high rating. Since his return he played 16 tests and took 44 wickets at the average of an expensive 37.25. He has taken just 25 wickets in 25 ODIs and this record cannot justify the high esteem he is held in.
Shahid Afridi is another cricketer who has been wrongly rated as a cricketing legend. His pinch-hitter image was highly eulogised but only 6 centuries in ODIs is no high turn-over as his average of 23.57 amply reveals. His vulnerability of temperament restricted him to play only in 27 tests producing an average of 36.51. His dash as a batsman was actually no match for his tricky bowling successes that are not highlighted.
The prize for the most over-rated cricketer should certainly go to English batsman Graeme Hick who was born in Zimbabwe. He clicked in first-class cricket scoring 64,000 runs but he failed in international arena. He was given innumerable chances by English selectors from 1991 to 2001 but he always failed to deliver. Rated to be a star rare batsman he only managed to score 6 centuries in a long tally of 64 test matches at an average of just 31.32 and his ODI career was also insignificant as his average in 120 matches was 37.33 with 5 centuries.
Ashraf Ali is with electronic media