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  The curious case of Kaneria
 
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09/12/11  Optimistic and hopeful Kaneria who’s petition seeking to be cleared for selection by the PCB filed in the Sindh High Court and ably argued by Dr. Farough Naseem has been dismissed on ground of lacking jurisdiction since the PCB head office is based in Lahore, Punjab. Whether the decision is challenged before the Superior Courts remains to be seen, but given Dr. Farough Naseem’s prowess over constitutional matters it is almost foreseeable that the decision will be challenged for obvious reasons. More importantly what it signifies is the lack of professionalism by the PCB headed by Ijaz Butt in handling the sensitive issue of Danish Kaneria’s involvement in spot-fixing after having been cleared by the local police in Essex.

Kaneria has been Pakistan premiere leg-spinner over the last decade or so and albeit having been a little expensive he has been a threat ably used by the likes of Inzamam and Co. Having mastered the art of leg spin; a dying art which seems to have died out ever since the exit of Shane Warne, Kaneria if anything has kept it alive, making it a joy to watch a leg spinner in full flow. A fine bowler having the ability to bowl long spells and keeping one end in check in terms of keeping the flow of runs down to a minimum, Danish Kaneria’s ability to take wickets relied on out thinking the batsmen over a period of time. We may be harsh in criticising him by saying he conceded way too many runs for the wickets he took and the time he consumed but in this criticism we often forget the prevailing circumstances’ of Pak cricket and his selfless services in that hour of need. We must not forget that Kaneria was a permanent member of the side during a period when the team was going through a rebuilding phase. During Inzamam’s era when Bob Woolmer rebuilt the team and led Pakistan to draw the test series in India, it was in that third Test that Danish Kaneria was instrumental in taking Pakistan to victory with his magical and at time unreadable leg spin bowling. It is these performances that merit a place for Danish Kaneria in the team, bowling selflessly for hours without any support from the other end being the lone spinner. It’s this ability to bowl long spells, try different variations and keep trying which makes Danish Kaneria special. One must also not forget his luck with Kamran Akmal and his faulty hands, being the culprit behind so many of Kaneria’s dropped catches, at times making him look ineffective and prolonging matters, the Sydney being one such prime example.

In order for a leg-spinner to be successful apart from having the art of leg spin along with its variations, having the required paraphernalia in terms of good fielders around the bat is important. A prime example is that of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, in Warne’s case it Healy who kept to him and then later the legendary Gilchrist, both of whom hardly ever missed, followed by the close in fielders like Mark Taylor at first Slip followed by Mark Waugh added to his bowling prowess. Similarly for Kumble, Dravid has been an excellent slip fielder and a permanent member of the side for the last 16 years supported by good close in fielders such as Laxman who have supported Kumble throughout his illustrious career. Kaneria quite hasn’t had the same paraphernalia in terms of fielding support due to the constant chopping and changing in the Pakistan side in the last decade or so. The side has never really looked settled and has been through turbulent times making it difficult for Kaneria to rely on youngsters and at times veterans who haven’t been sure of their place in the side either. In such uncertain times and Kamran’s dismal show behind the stumps, Kaneria’s case merits special consideration. His stats today would read a different story had he been supported in the same fashion as his counterparts.

Another tragedy in Kaneria’s case is that of labeling him as a test cricketer, confining him to the boundaries of test cricket and selecting him only for Test matches. This plague seems to spread in the cricket board setup every few years resulting in the sacrifice of an able cricketer who could have been a great something which is beyond comprehension. Saeed Anwar one of Pakistan’s greatest batsmen was initially also only considered for Tests but due to some act of God was selected and never looked back. However, poor Kaneria has suffered for no reason whatsoever. His selection in the one day side would have contributed largely to his development as a wicket taking bowler and more so as an attacking bowler with more variations coupled with Shahid Afridi making a deadly attack potent enough to bother any side in the world. It’s a pity that Kaneria now that the team has settled and is part of a winning combination is not able to feature even if in the test side. With Saeed Ajmal going great guns, Kaneria would be the ideal partner something he has longed for all throughout his career when he has been the lonesome warrior, offering variations that are unplayable from both ends.

With the new PCB chairman in field now and his reputation of running the PCB like an organisation in a very professional manner, one can perhaps hope that Kaneria’s case will be looked into and we may see him in Pakistani colours one more time or at least be cleared for selection. Zaka Ashraf’s fair-play approach as in the case of Afridi who’s return to the side almost immediately after Ijaz Butt’s departure breathes new life into Kaneria’s case and even though spot fixing remains a sensitive issue Kaneria having been cleared through and through by the Essex police merits a chance to be considered for selection in the backdrop of his monumental and selfless service to Pakistan cricket.
 
 
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