Lahore:Former Pakistan greats on Monday lamented their team's 3-2 series defeat to an out-of-form and under-strength Australia as a great opportunity missed to restore faith in the game back home.
Cricket has been in the doldrums in the South Asian country after World Cup 2011 games were taken away because of security concerns, highlighted by an attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team in March in Lahore.
But despite facing an Australian side looking well short of the quality and personnel which saw them crowned world champions, Pakistan lost the series played in neutral Dubai having won the first match.
They did win the fifth and final game on Sunday, by seven wickets, but by then the series was already out of reach.
"Pakistan cricket has been reeling from problem after problem. Had the team won the series, it would have been a great boost to the game in the country, sadly we lost that chance," said former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram.
Wasim was critical of Pakistan's decision to rest frontline paceman Umar Gul for the pivotal fourth game.
"I fail to understand why you rest your on-form bowler," said Wasim, himself a great left-arm paceman. "Pakistan was 2-1 behind, not in front, and only a winning team can afford to have a rotation policy," he told AFP.
Wasim believes Younus Khan's elevation to the captaincy had blunted his batting.
"Younus has been taking extra pressures of captaincy and that's showing in his failures as batsman. He needs to calm down and learn from experience.
"Younus made a couple of costly mistakes, he should have promoted Kamran Akmal top of the order because he has been batting well," said Wasim, adding the side needed to improve its running between the wickets.
Former paceman Sarfraz Nawaz agreed on-song Gul should not have been rested, branding his omission "a crime".
"I think Pakistan must include new players who are young and energetic and get rid of players like Shoaib Akhtar who have fitness problems. It's time for PCB to say 'thank you' to half-fit players," Nawaz added.
Chief selector Abdul Qadir said that with Pakistan virtually a no-go area for international cricket, the game in the country was crying out for a series win.
"It was very important that we won an important series considering the situation in Pakistan, where we are having no cricket," said Qadir.
Qadir said Australian captain Michael Clarke was the decisive factor.
"I think in this whole series Clarke was the difference between the two teams. Clarke was out of form when the series started but he stuck to his task, took wickets whenever Australia needed them," said Qadir.
Another former captain, Moin Khan, blamed Pakistan's defeat on poor batting.
"I fail to understand why we can't bat the full 50 overs, it shows that our batsmen struggled against Australia," Khan said.