It is not a novelty to suggest that the national launches in Pakistan are not up to what a large testing team requires since his first Class Cricket. But what happened in Faisalabad on Friday was, even by the unfortunately low standards of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (QeA), something like an eyebrow lifter. Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, winners of five of the last six QeA titles, stayed with Habib Bank Limited for 35. This is a team that leads Group A this season with four wins and one draw in five games. a team that has 39 points, 15 of the best Peshawar. A team that, for the love of God, has Taufeeq Umar, Misbah-ul-Haq, Adnan Akmal and Bilawal Bhatti among their ranks.
You can imagine what the scorecard would look like, but it's worth repeating, if only to illustrate the desolate nature of the contest itself. Bilawal was the only man who managed to reach double figures, scoring 15. Ali Waqas, who faced more balls than any other batter – 35 – managed to limp to 9. No other batter crossed 4. This is a scorecard of the Prime Minister Competition of a country that, only two years ago, was classified as the best test equipment in the world. I would be more at home in the Cricket 2004 video game.
The QeA may think that it is inoculated against criticism of its releases, so it is accustomed to attack at their expense. But still, this has been a week of terribly bad publicity for the tournament. On the same day in Islamabad, Mohammad Amir hit Mohammad Saad, the third highest scorer in QeA last season, in the helmet of a delivery he threw over a length. The captain of the WAPDA, Salman Butt, at the end of the non-attacker, complained to the referee, and the match was abandoned after 58.4 over.
Last year, the tournament was criticized for how hostile the batting pitches were, with 25 sub-100 totals throughout the season. This year seems to be no better. There have already been nine entries of this type, four of them occurred in the two previous rounds. In addition, the totals are increasingly low. Two of these four scores have been sub-50; The National Bank of Pakistan was eliminated by 44 last week. Last season there was only a sub-50 score in the QeA, when the now relegated PTVs were fired by 37 by Khan Research Laboratories.
In the last couple of years, the state of home tones has attracted increasing attention and criticism, with no indication that things are on the rise. Last month, the newly elected president of PCB, Ehsan Mani, said that renewing national cricket was one of his top priorities, and although he did not mention the status of the launches, it is clearly one of the key issues that need urgent improvement. Reducing the number of teams playing national cricket was raised as a possibility, as the former first cricketer and newly elected Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, apparently favored the "Australian model" of domestic cricket.
"I set my priorities to fix domestic cricket and make it stronger than ever, because this is where cricketers come from," said Mani. "I met with the sponsor [Imran Khan] and publicly expressed my desire for fewer teams to compete in national cricket to ensure higher quality [Imran wanted] an Australian model, but we have to invent a Pakistani model. In principle, only quality teams should be playing first class cricket.
"This will not happen overnight, we have to conduct a thorough review and consult with all interested parties, we can not ignore the departments that are the main contributors to our domestic structure. Our cricket players' employees and we can not keep them out of the loop, I am forming a management task force that will identify the problems and suggest how we can strengthen the structure, there are many challenges, but we have to strengthen the regional configuration. "
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor of ESPNcricinfo. @ Danny61000
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.