Yousuf calls for Pakistan to appoint a batting coach
In the aftermath of another batting collapse, Mohammad Yousuf has admitted his side may need the services of a specialist coach to help stem the rot of their recent performances. Pakistan slumped to 139 all out to lose the second Test at the SCG against Australia by 36 runs on a surface that was placid enough for tailender Peter Siddle to have lasted over three hours earlier on the fourth day of the Test.
It was the third time they have faltered in low chases recently, losing by 50 runs to Sri Lanka last July chasing 168 and by 32 runs to New Zealand at Dunedin chasing 251. In all three Pakistan were comfortably placed at various stages, before crumbling towards the end. As a batting side, in their last 16 innings, they have crossed 350 only twice now.
The trend has prompted Yousuf to complain about the amount of Twenty20 cricket Pakistan plays, blaming the format for his batsmen's inability to adapt to Test cricket. Pakistan began their chase against Australia aggressively, but then lost wickets in a bundle of rash strokes, Yousuf included. They did much the same in the first innings, throwing away wickets and the chance of an insurmountable lead.
"I have said before as well, we are not building temperament of how to build an innings and a chase," Yousuf said. "Everyone plays Twenty20, but they all change when they come into Test cricket. Ours don't change. Our momentum stays the same."
Pakistan's middle order has struggled since the retirement of Inzamam-ul-Haq late in 2007. Younis Khan's periodic absences at one down have further deprived the side of solidity, at least on the tours to New Zealand and Australia. Faisal Iqbal has failed and further down the order so have Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal with the bat. Yousuf and the management have tried to bring Younis out to Australia but the request has been turned down by the board.
Yousuf was scathing in his assessment of the batting, though he didn't name anyone in particular. "Nobody wants to play Test cricket with their hearts, that much is clear," he said. "Five days and a three-hour game is a big difference. Twenty20 is an easy game, there is no pressure. You only do what we did here - this was it wasn't it? This was Twenty20 what we did today wasn't it?"
Pakistan have three coaches with them in Australia, though two of them - Waqar Younis and Aaqib Javed - are more involved with the bowling attack. Surprisingly, there is no one to look after the batting of a side with such little Test match experience. Javed Miandad worked with them briefly before the Champions Trophy but that wasn't a long-term arrangement.
"What I can see is that we need batsmen, we really need batsmen with temperament," Yousuf said. "Our big names in Pakistan have to see how we can do this. There should be a batting coach. You have a fielding coach, bowling coach, all are there so why not a batting coach?"
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo