Rock & Roll was a great dance. But it has had its time. Rock & Roll, though, is alive and well at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Failing to dance in step with the modern day game is pushing us in to cricket’s middle ages. If we continue to slag, our nap will become a deep slumber. Look at where India was compared to us in the 1980’s and where it is today. Food for thought! One’s aim is to be constructive rather than being a blanket critique. Let’s start, therefore, with analysing where we have gone wrong and been out of sync with the cricket playing world. The best starting point is the structure of our cricket. There is precious little in the way of grass roots cricket, either at the club level or by way of inter-school competition. Cricket is developed in nurseries. Ours is metaphorically developed at secondary school level. Cricket grounds –– yes we need plenty of those instead of housing societies. The PCB with its big budgets is big hearted at spending on unnecessary and wasteful endeavours such as creating a behemothic bureaucracy of useless men, silly road shows and junkets for the favourites. So, why not spend on cricket rather than its cheer-leaders? We can only slide in to the template of modern cricket on the back of modern tools. To compete at international level, our players need to play home cricket in similar conditions. So bring in the drop-in pitches as many cricketing countries have done including India. We play our entire home cricket on docile or spinning tracks which ill prepares our players for the fast, furious and bouncy tracks of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Compare how the Indian batsmen (historically poor players against pace) fare in those shores. The PCB needs to invest in modern technology at local level cricket. Bring in the speed cameras and the DRS systems. Pace has always been the poetry of cricket. Who could forget pace duo of Dennis Lilly and Jeff Thompson, West Indian quartet of Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshal, our very own Wasm Akram, Waqar Youis, Shoaib Akhtar and of course Imram Khan, now Prime Minister ––- just to name a few. How they drove fear and fright in to the hearts of batsmen! And behold one of the great fast bowlers of his time and now a coach, Waqar, who claims upon returning from a disastrous tour “pace is not everything”. Wow for Waqar! Who today recalls the great medium pacers of the past with as much as relish as speedsters ––– remember the great Alec Bedser? By deploying speed cameras at our grounds, we can encourage young, budding fast bowlers to compete with each other for pace and pick and harness those with speeds of 150K and beyond. This is the way forward to develop world class fast bowlers, Waqar permitting. The PCB with its big budgets is big hearted at spending on unnecessary and wasteful endeavours such as creating a behemothic bureaucracy of useless men, silly road shows and junkets for the favourites If one is not a swashbuckling stroke player at 20, he can never be a great at 30. In good old times, we never discouraged our young batsmen from curbing their stroke play and so produced stars like Saeed Ahmed, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar and Inzamamal Haq. How we recall with nostalgia the greats of yesteryear –– Viv Richards, Gordon Grenidge, Rohan Kanhai, David Gower, Dennis Compton, Barry Richards and Ricky Ponting, to name a few. No one is talking about the slow trains with great batting record and averages like Shivnarine Chanderpaul. After a long gap, we have only a Babar Azam to show. All others are learning defence from Misbahul Haq. And we are great ones for continuously putting old wines in new bottles. Nowhere else in the cricket world are old, forgotten faces recycled as much as in Pakistan. The reason? Everyone in the cricket establishment has favourites (or parchee wallas). So, old soldiers don’t die here. They simply fade away (till their bones begin to degenerate). Let’s take a leaf out Cricket Australia. They are utterly ruthless in their selection and pick their players on form, not reputation. England does the same. Or, why not take an example from our neighbours, India? Indians are never shy of “resting” seasoned performers and throwing raw talent at the deep end. And see how they decimated Australia in Australia, even though they were playing virtually a second eleven. Hello there –– am I making any sense? Only in Pakistan, will batsmen with many zeroes, a big hundred and with many other zeroes to follow remain on the selection radar (read Shaan Masood). Or batsman who has played in excess of seventy Test matches without making a mark still be promoted and kept in the “another chance” list for future (read Asad Shafiq). And coaches! Modern day coaches are harnessed and trained in accredited academies; they are educated and groomed for that job alone. International coaches are computer savvy with technical and analytical skills, which enables them to study and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of their players and the opposition –– a useful aid in guiding their charges. Come to Pakistan and you have a head coach Misbah, who like his other fellow coaches has no proper education and training. Misbah is of defensive and negative mind set and best only at making imaginative excuses after losing. A question goes begging –– why Misbah who was himself a competent batsman of the same era needs to take Younus Khan along? These are called junkets and freebees. And pacer Waqar –– the less said of him the better. Which coach in the world will abandon his team in mid tour to take a family holiday, and upon being asked, joyfully claim “there is more to life than cricket”. Really!? He has displayed the rare gift of taking in his charge fast bowlers of promising pace and turning them in to medium mediocrities. And guess what? He is still touring with the national team! Cricket matches are like gladiators in Coliseum. People come out there baying for blood –– to see raw pace knocking over batsmen and batsmen hitting sixes. As a nation, we have learnt to swallow neither victory, nor defeat. In defeat, we have excuses galore. Blame the bad pitches, conditions and Covid-19 –– everything but the “bhais” and the “boys”. And in victory there is great misfortune. All the cracks, gaps and weaknesses are readily brushed away in the euphoria of winning. No self-analysis or introspection is allowed as we need to give the “boys” a pat on the back. We have as our patron in chief a great cricketer of the past and a cricket guru. We have a highly accomplished chairman, a competent committee and a decent chief selector. Reason enough to feel optimistic about the future. But the coaches and the mid and lower management –– they have the rank ability to take a vintage crop and turn it in to table wine. And this is not sour grapes.