Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney January 2, 2010

Fielding coach futile, says Mohammad Yousuf

Mohammad Yousuf believes hiring a specialist fielding coach for Pakistan will not make much of a difference to the side's continued problems in the area. Pakistan dropped five catches in all in their 170-run loss to Australia at the MCG. That came on the back of the Test series in New Zealand where they grassed at least ten chances through the three Tests, including six in the win in Wellington.

The performance has prompted speculation in Pakistan that hiring a specialist fielding coach is on the cards. Waqar Younis, the former fast bowler, is already with the squad as a bowling and fielding coach, but he has only been appointed for the Australia series. In any case the brunt of his work lies in the fast bowling department.

Pakistan have toyed with the idea in the past, occasionally hiring people for the post, but no one has been retained long-term. Jonty Rhodes came in for a brief stint in 2006, just before Pakistan toured England, and Yousuf believes the experience points to the futility of such a post. "We cannot do more than what we do already about it," he told Cricinfo.

"What else can we do other than practice catching all the time. Even if you hire a fielding coach, remember Jonty Rhodes before the 2006 England series? We dropped 20 catches in that series. Whoever comes will do the same kind of practices and throw lots of catches and all that is happening now anyway."

The problem, believes Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam, is more deep-rooted and will probably require a systemic change at the domestic level. "We must accept that there were lapses in the fielding at Melbourne and dropping the openers was crucial," Intikhab told Cricinfo.

"We do a lot of fielding practice with all the coaches. I'm not going to make any excuses about the conditions, the crowds and how we might not be used to it. There are some youngsters there, some new guys.

"The department is such that if you work hard at it you can really improve. We have hours of practice where we practice slip catches, high balls, flat ones, diving ones, running ones. We cover everything but I've been saying for a long time, it is a grassroots problem. For departments and associations in domestic cricket, players don't really do much fielding practice. When they come into the international side, that is when they start learning properly and that is not easy."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo