I found this really interesting article by Akram about the decline of Pakistan and India vs. the rise of the Aussies. Most of issues he talks about apply to us as well so I am pasting it... hopefully I am not infringing copyrights
Basic Cricket Infrastructure Needed for Subcontinent Teams
Wasim Akram, Gameplan
Now that the Australians have beaten two subcontinent teams in successive finals, itís time the losing finalists try and analyze why the Australians are so superior to teams from this part of the world.
When I started out in international cricket 18 years ago, the Australians were hardly a force to reckon with. I remember playing a tournament in Australia in which India and Pakistan were the finalists, while the hosts did not even make the semifinals. However, in two years they went on to win the 1987 World Cup, and since then have been the best team in world cricket, pretty much through the rest of my career.
There are three main reasons for this 15-year period of Australian supremacy ó good administration, good domestic cricket and good bench strength. These are all interlinked, and it has to be said that that this entire superstructure was not erected in a day. There was vision from the start, and when one great player called it a day, there was always a replacement at hand.
The greatest example of the vision that exists in Australian cricket can be seen by the smooth way in which one captain has taken over from the other. When Allan Border handed over the reins to Mark Taylor, everybody thought the former was a tough act to follow. The same happened when Steve Waugh took over from Taylor, and now Ricky Ponting seems capable of raising the bar even higher. It must be remembered that Taylor and Waugh had shaky starts at the helm, but they had the board firmly behind them, and they had been groomed for the job so well, that they never lost their nerve.
Compare this with the merry-go-round in captaincy that existed in India and Pakistan right through the 1990s. Pakistan was worse than India in this regard, but in both countries, captains were always aware that if they failed, they would be hanged without a fair hearing. This is what I mean when I say there is a lack of vision in the subcontinent. The larger picture is never seen, now that Waqar and I are at the end of our careers, there is no replacement in sight. Have the Indians asked themselves: ďAfter Sachin who? After Dravid and Ganguly, who?Ē I doubt they have, and that is the problem the subcontinent will face till they start looking at the larger picture.
The Australian Cricket Board, now rechristened Cricket Australia, backed up their vision with a superb domestic cricket set-up. Whenever we tour Australia, we get to play against one state team or the other, and I was always impressed by the standard of play. Obviously, not everybody played for Australia, but some of the guys who played for state sides in Australia, could have walked into any other team in the world. This is why they have such good bench strength. When Shane Warne left, Brad Hogg filled in superbly, when Michael Bevan missed the opening game, Andrew Symonds scored a century, and when Jason Gillespie got injured Andy Bichel won the game for his team.
Once again, contrast this to the domestic cricket that is played in India and Pakistan. The wickets are dead, and the standard of cricket is declining by the year. I would say that Pakistan players of my generation did well because most of us got involved in county cricket. If the domestic structure has to improve, it has to be interesting for the top players to continue in it once they reach the international stage. The matches I see on television in both India and Pakistan are so dead and unattractive, that I worry about the future of the game in both countries. Sure, we have legions of fans supporting the teams, but if the basic infrastructure is so poor, then the fans may have nothing to cheer about a few years down the line.
Administrators in the subcontinent have to start thinking about the future of national cricket and stay away from politicking and regional biases. I donít know whether we have it in us to do this, because politics is such an integral part of our culture. We have family feuds, so can you blame officials for fighting all the time? However, hiring professional CEOs, secretaries and spokesmen may show the way ahead. They must be salaried professionals, who have a specific, long-ish tenure, and most importantly, must be answerable for their actions. Right now we have honorary posts for which elections are held. This means there are factions, and no one is really responsible for what is happening. They take the easy way out by large-scale sackings when a team fails instead of trying to figure out what went wrong and why. Furthermore, no official is around long enough to make a lasting impact.
Perhaps, the people in power in both countries should do some introspection. In India they did well to get to the finals, but they must build on that success. They must groom future players, and identify a future captain. A look at the way Pakistan cricket has gone since 1999 may serve as a cautionary tale about what can happen if your top guys donít have the vision to look beyond the present.
Arab News Sports 28 March 2003