Tuesday, August 5, 2008

An honest analysis of Malaysia's performance in the Asian Cricket Council Trophy.

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.


Anonymous said...

Dear “Cricket Lover / Ex – National player”,

The saying "Hidup segan mati tak mahu” applies to majority of sports in Malaysia, sadly. In case you are not aware, the only sport that has brought the nation delight would be squash. Some credits need to be given to badminton, bowling and also hockey I must say.

But something can be done about this instead of us just sitting around and droning about how things are done. Leave the players aside, but all those involved regardless of cricket lovers, officials and let’s not forget former national players will need to obtain the first class mentality. It is pointless to have first class mentality players who are surrounded by spectators/observers of the third class mentality. Don’t know if you should know better but the first class facility is a secondary issue. Many more things which are not in place may contribute to this factor. Point?

But it’s nice to know there is someone enthusiastic as you, who claim to be a cricket lover, hopefully with no hidden agenda or personal intentions.

Now to contribute my opinions about the performance of the national team in the ACC tournament, let me begin by saying an improvement is an achievement in any sport. So therefore from standing in the 7th place to being 6th place is surely some sort of success the way I see it. All other teams remained or degraded in their ranking except Malaysia & HK.

You certainly do not sound like a former national player. Where is the sportsmanship in everybody these days? Looks like we prefer harping on the negative side of things. I guess it brings people more joy. But then again that’s just the way I see things since I have played cricket too, in the state level and I follow this sport very intensely. Mainly because I just love the game, nothing else.
Cricket is a team game. It is all about team effort and team contribution. So I totally disagree with you when you mention that there are culprits that are the cause of the bad performance. Funny why someone would think that way. It’s so typical of us to point fingers whenever there is a downfall. Does anyone point fingers if the team were to rise as champions? Does anyone point a finger to the captain saying that it’s all because of him that the team won? Never. Sad to know as a cricket lover / ex national player your views are so superficial. You need to understand the composition of the squad before you can throw a judgment. Here is how it goes; the captain takes responsibility and opens the bowling although he is a spinner (no genuine opening bowler) , bowls during power play, bowls during slog/death overs. As for wickets that you might be referring to as a comparison, please note that this is a one day match and not a 3 day match, economic run rate plays a big part. I don’t need to remind you that there is an immense difference in this do I? On batting, the team is composed of all rounder’s. The batting order changes according to the situation and criticality of the game. Times when the runs needed to be pushed, the coach would send hard hitting batsmen. All these are what you can refer to as team tactics and strategies. I am not sure if you did analyze that all matches Malaysia lost in ACC, we were batting second. Something to think about!!

One thing to ponder, the U 19 players participated in the ICC world cup? How many actually contributed to the ACC tournament? As far as I am aware, NSC spent limitless amount of money on them. Well they all pulled out. So I guess this is why Malaysia has to turn to foreigners. But the selectors of the Malaysian team need to re-strategize because from the first time Mal used expats that were selected never did make a difference to the team. Here I am referring to Sarath and also Kodikara. Malaysia lost to Singapore, and is 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. Very true. But then you must also bear in mind that most of these countries you mentioned consists of all expats playing for them from all over such as Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. For your additional knowledge, Hong Kong had 9 Pakistanis playing for them. That is practically the whole team. And that you would refer to as development? Funny I don’t see how. What development are we talking about?

There has been lots of improvement in the national team. Players have come out of a nut shell under the current captaincy. So who would you suggest that can best lead the national team? Name me one player of those capabilities. In fact if you really want to go deep into statistics and studies, you should consider looking back on the stats of all former national players in this link http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/MAL.html You might want to think again before you judge. Then we shall see if you can re-phrase these achievements as an improvement. Also to add, tremendous performance by Suhan Kumar Alagaratnam and Dhinesh Muthuraman. You really want to help cricket, try spending one entire day just sitting down and listing 30 cricketers in Malaysia of international standard that you think can bring this game to another different level. That way we do not have to abide with the saying "Hidup segan, mati tak mahu”. That could be a start to your contribution? Better?
But lastly, it is certainly pleasing to see a fellow cricket lover who has interest in the game and wants to see it grow. It would be better if you just step up and voice out your opinions directly. By voicing out, I do not mean blogging. Let’s be more practical.

As always, for the betterment of cricket.

Gandhi, said...

Reading the above comment, i wonder if people are interested in the message or more interested in the writer.
Maybe the answer i would get is both i.e "technical know how and technical know whom".
So blogging is ok if the name is known? The bottomline, i presume.