Pakistan’s fielding coach, Aftab Khan, has openly admitted that the standard of fielding in the Pakistan cricket team is not on par with top-tier teams. He attributes this deficiency to the lack of emphasis on fielding at the domestic and grassroots levels, warning that it could pose significant challenges in the future.
In a recent interaction with the media in Kolkata, Aftab Khan emphasized the importance of prioritizing fielding improvements at the grassroots level. He pointed out that fielding requires a high level of fitness as players are required to remain on the ground for 90 to 100 overs, which necessitates a strong fitness foundation.
One of the key issues raised by Aftab Khan is the relative lack of importance given to fielding within Pakistan’s cricketing culture. He argued that in contrast to top teams like Australia, New Zealand, India, and even Afghanistan, Pakistan has fallen behind in terms of fielding standards. While these teams invest significant time and resources in improving their fielding, Pakistan needs to allocate more attention and time to fielding, treating it on par with batting and bowling.
Aftab Khan expressed optimism that fielding-related issues will be resolved in the near future. However, he stressed the need to work on fielding not only at the international level but also at the grassroots, domestic, and academy levels. According to him, other cricketing nations achieve high standards in fielding by focusing on the basics at these lower levels.
Aftab Khan believes that fielding requires mental maturity, as it is a discipline that can be significantly affected by pressure. If fielding standards are improved at the grassroots level, it can lead to overall team improvement, as fielding plays a crucial role in the outcome of matches.
The discussion also raised questions about the prevailing cricketing culture in Pakistan, where fielding is often not given the same emphasis as batting or bowling. Aftab Khan argued that the emphasis should be placed on improving fielding, not just at the international level but throughout the cricketing ecosystem.
Aftab Khan further noted that a robust fielding culture is critical for success, as it is an aspect that can directly influence the outcome of matches. By putting in the effort to improve fielding standards from the grassroots level, Pakistan can aim for excellence and competitiveness with top cricketing nations.
The issues surrounding fielding are not limited to Pakistan’s international cricket team. They extend to the domestic and academy levels, where fielding is often neglected. A fundamental change in the approach to fielding is necessary for Pakistan to compete effectively with other top teams.
Aftab Khan’s acknowledgment of Pakistan’s fielding challenges sheds light on an area that has often been overlooked within the country’s cricketing culture. Fielding is not just about athleticism but also mental maturity and concentration under pressure. To elevate Pakistan’s cricket to the highest levels, a comprehensive approach to fielding must be adopted at all levels, from grassroots to international cricket. Fielding should be treated as a priority and an integral part of the game, allowing Pakistan to compete with the best in the world.