Waqar Younus and Bazid Khan were almost demanding more time for ‘Jashan’. Lahore Qalandars had opened their account in the HBLPSL. In the end, it was a comfortable enough win against Quetta Gladiators. Time to keep the momentum going, build on success, never change a winning eleven; all the clichés could be used here.
Playing another game in less than 24 hours meant, there was no time for any niggles to go away. Lahore Qalandars lost their best bowler, Shaheen Shah Afridi. A minor fracture in his thumb forced them to sit him out. Or that is what we were told.
In one of the numerous cuts to Fakhar e Alam, the left-arm pacer was interviewed. It was confirmed that he had a fracture in his thumb. Yet he was keen to play and bowl. It was his fielding that would have been impacted. There was a chance that the injury would get worse.
This was a crucial match. Perhaps even a couple of years ago, coaches and captains would have pushed the 19-year-old to play. It’s just a minor injury, pull through it, be a man, nar ban, be a team man; he would have heard a bunch of clichés. We have heard this take before. The typical Ramiz Raja on Mohammad Zahid enforcement. Bordering on abuse by a captain or coach who could end their careers if they say no.
But the tide seems to be turning. Having lost a host of excellent bowlers with potential, finally, Pakistani coaches are waking up to this new reality. Something other top sides have been doing for years.
Yesterday’s example was a pretty straight forward one. Quetta Gladiators were extremely careful in their handling of Naseem Shah at the start of the tournament. Even though the 17-year-old was bowling in the nets, he was kept out of the firing before he returned to full fitness.
The way Waqar Younus, Misbah ul Haq and Azhar Ali managed the workload of a grieving Naseem, was encouraging too. Perhaps coaches are realising that there is no endless supply of supreme fast bowlers and they need the care to deliver.
All three examples are recent. This should have been the case for a long time. Earlier when a player asked for a rest, it could have resulted at the end of his career.
But they say “Der Aaye Durust Aaye”.
Long may it continue.