Another regular reader of the blog has e-mailed an analysis of the Malaysian National team's performance in the ACC Tournament. It is a candid view and it is important that the administrators of Malaysian cricket should take serious note of it and do the needful. This cricket lover has taken the trouble to put his views in writing and I hope many other cricket enthusiasts would also do the same.
Text of his e-mail is as follows:
"I sincerely hope if you could kindly post my fervent plea as a cricket enthusiast in your site so that it would reach other cricket supporters and the relevant cricketing officials in the country.
As a sport that has been cynically categorised by the National Sports Council officials as "hidup segan mati tak mahu", I hope to initiate some positive feedback and comments from ex national players and supporters of the present cricket performance in Malaysia. I've even heard comments from the Malaysian Cricket Association officials that it is fortunate that cricket is not under the spotlight of both the press and public at large unlike hockey and badminton (until you began your blog).
I will concentrate on matters related to the performance of the national team in the recently concluded Asian Cricket Council Trophy held in Kuala Lumpur where 10 countries who have not achieved Test status participated. FYI, Hong Kong became champion and Malaysia finished sixth, one rank better than the last tournament held two years ago. I wish to bring to light that this is not an improvement as many of the officials of the governing body in Malaysia would have unashamedly boasted.
The main culprit of the dismal performance is the beleaguered national captain. A captain in cricket is unlike other sports, he is one who is respected by both the players and officials of the team and although not necessary the best player, he has to show character and ability in order to earn their respect. By putting himself as the last batsman revealed his playing ability, I remembered seeing him opening the batting just a few years ago. Then you would argue that he is more of a bowler, but with a meagre haul of five wickets at the expense of more than 170 runs in the competition? If only he could perform as well as his arguments with the umpire in the friendly matches (posted in voice-in-sport's website on 8th and 13th July, 2008). I was informed that the selection of the current national team was based on their performance in a specially arranged quadrangular competition prior to the main competition and checking the records he certainly did not deserve a place in the team. Hopefully his selection was not based on past glories or worse still his professional occupation as previous captains have been selected based on distinguished positions either in the public or private sectors.
The second culprit had to be the selection of two of the three foreigners who qualified as 'deemed nationals'. Both were washouts with one who had the distinction of playing for the backup squad of a Test country, selected as a specialist bowler but ended with total haul of five wickets for more than 150 runs. The other, a wicketkeeper batsman, performed poorly both with the bat and gloves. Any local player would have taken their places, at least they (Malaysians) would still be around for a couple of years unlike the foreigners who are way past their prime. It is simply bewildering that we are so short of players that we need to rely on the foreigners to don the national colours. We have been runner-up to Nepal in the under 19 version of the competition for three consecutive occasions since 1999 (held biennially) only to perform disastrously last year in our back yard. Where have all the players gone? Only two or three have graduated into the senior ranks. What happened to the remaining 30 or so more players? They would have been at their prime now with the average age of 27.
The national team ended in sixth position because they lost to Singapore, a team whom Malaysia seem to lose with more frequent occasions, whose cricket facilities in the whole island state could not even match the ones in Klang valley alone. We are currently third behind the UAE and Nepal in terms of cricket playing fields with the eventual champion Hong Kong much further down the pecking order. Both players and officials always hid behind the excuse of having no dedicated grounds to train and play a few years back before the national body built the world class oval at Kinrara. Let us not fall into the adage of having first class facility with a third class mentality.
The only bright spot to emerge from the competition was the performance of Suhan Kumar Alagaratnam and Dhinesh Muthuraman who were awarded best batsman and best bowler respectively. Some encouraging performance from the younger players augurs well for the future but how much longer before we emerge as title contenders. Are we still in the development mode even after more than 10 years when the national team achieved their highest ranking by ending up as runner-up to Bangladesh in 1996 who were then on the brink of qualifying as a Test country?
I make this clarion call to all interested parties especially my fellow ex nationals to provide positive inputs to the national association on steps to improve the performance of the national team and development of the sport not only in and around the Klang valley but the whole country, just like those days when inter state matches were keenly fought and bring the best out of the players.
For the betterment of cricket,
The interesting aspect of the above article is the critical analysis. Equally, the writer seems to have focused on certain areas where he feels the right things must be done. His plea for former internationals to provide positive input is a brilliant call and I hope such personalities would take note of it.
MCA too must be pro-active and ensure that the future looks bright for our current and future generation of players.