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November 1, 2006

Politics

A call for stability and some leadership

Kamran Abbasi

In the wake of the Champions Trophy debacle, Pakistan cricket is besieged with cries for change. Yes, change is essential but a knee-jerk reaction will further harm Pakistan's chances of winning the World Cup. There are calls for wholesale changes in the team, as well as calls from the head of the Karachi City Cricket Association for the sacking of Bob Woolmer. Rashid Latif has bizarrely blamed the failure of the Asian teams on the presence of foreign coaches.

The sense of crisis has been deepened by Nasim Ashraf calling for a seminar of senior cricketers to help turn round Pakistan's fortunes. As many readers of this blog will know, seminars of the kind proposed by the PCB are seldom any good for producing solutions or new ideas. The gathering of a gang of squabbling ex-cricketers, each believing he has a monopoly on the truth, sounds to me like an exercise in stakeholder management rather than a genuine way forward. Indeed, the solutions are pretty obvious and should reside within the heads of the team captain and coach. And, lest we forget, Pakistan's World Cup prospects were shining bright after the first three one-day internationals in England.

To my mind, it is too late to start talking of changing the coach and captain, it will be suicidally late after the West Indies series. Pakistan's best chance is to stick with the leadership combination that had lifted it to the top three in both forms of the game. One nuance might have been to appoint Younis Khan as one-day captain, indeed it is something I advocated, but after some wonky decisions before and during the one-day series coupled with a drop in form, it has to be best for Ashraf to sit down with Bob and Inzy and say: "You're the men for this important mission. You have my confidence. Tell me your plan and let's implement it." Younis's time will come.

Great leadership is all about appointing people with skill and trusting them to deliver for you. It isn't about undermininig their authority by running a pointless national roadshow on how those guys might do their jobs better, which is what it will inevitably turn out to be.

The PCB only has to read the views of fans to know what the solutions are, and they are not very different from the ones people like Imran Khan have been peddling for years. A competitive, regional domestic game. A properly functioning national academy (not one that is closed down almost before it has started). A professional, independent cricket board. And a mindset that says let's dump dead tracks and let's prepare some that are full of life and bounce. If they can be produced in Mohali there can be no excuse in Lahore.

And perhaps a novel idea: Let's put some faith in the ideas of the experts we have hired. Why not act on Bob Woolmer's calls for concrete pitches to prepare our batsmen against bouncy tracks? Why not act on proposals that the PCB has received for long term planning and development of Pakistan cricket? Why not support our players, captain, and coach in public (whatever the private reservations) rather than spreading silly stories about their nocturnal activities, religious orthodoxy, and holidays? When this is how the world of Pakistan cricket works it makes me conclude that some of the influential people running it (and I suspect they are still in post) would rather act out their own petty prejudices than create something of beauty that would bring joy to millions.

For let's be clear, the failure of Mohali, and Old trafford, and Perth, is not the failure of a player, captain, or coach. It is the failure of a whole system--and one that has always got away with it because of the talents of those players, captains, and coaches who have served it over the years. If Nasim Ashraf really wants to make a mark, he should stop the nurturers and the servents of that failed system from getting away with it any more. It's clear that the people that really matter, the fans, will not tolerate it any more.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by saif on (November 11, 2006, 6:49 GMT)

Hi, Please review the case of fast bowler asif on grounds of his innocence & if possible to decrease the ban on shoaib akhtar,so that he can return to cricket, after all he is gives lots of enjoyment to spectators. Also please do something on fastbowler shabbir ahmed.

Posted by Shariq Butt on (November 4, 2006, 12:51 GMT)

Its not the matter of sacking foreign coaches but the thinking, attitude and arrogance which has developed in the Asian Teams.

The tribunal verdict is disappointing,where is the President of Pakistan now??? who earlier had stopped Shoaib from giving any public reply.

There looks to be deep consiparcy hatched against the two Pakistani fast bowlers....... Great News as I write Darrel Hair has been taken of from umpiring in the international fixtures

Posted by Aravind on (November 4, 2006, 10:30 GMT)

Hi, Pakistan should revoke the decision on asif atleast.

Posted by Sawliha on (November 3, 2006, 6:31 GMT)

I agree with you Mr.Abbasi. I think we will be in serious trouble if we sack Woolmer now. I think Mr.Ashraf is creating more problems than solving any. And it's mainly due to the fact that the President of Pakistan is a "patron" of the PCB, who unfortunately finds it necessary to butt in "non-political" issues such as cricket. I was disappointed in the tribunal's verdict. Has PCB paid any heed to the way Asif talks? That kid can barely speak proper Urdu. Do they really think he knows about the usage of banned substances if PCB fails to provide adequate information? The ban impose on Akhtar is understandable; he has been in cricket for almost 10 years and he should know better. I personally think we need to drop Afridi from the squad. He hasn't been "in form" in several years and it's about high time PCB gets rid of this "glam factor". As far as Younis Khan is concerned, I don't think he is ready for captaincy. The inconsistency he demonstrated during the Champions Trophy is a good indication of that.

Posted by saabizsah on (November 2, 2006, 9:59 GMT)

well it is just an expression of subcontinent mentality (blaming the system), what about idividual responsibilities and application, remember javed miandad, imran khan , wasim akram,waqar younis - all these were not only talented but they knew how to apply themselves in any situation, which our current bunch of lads lack , just look at the way they play their shots, no thinking whatsoever. They need to learn their responsibilities(which batsmen seem to lack awareness of) and only then simulating pitches and conditions and---- is giong to help.

Posted by Suhaib Jalis Ahmed on (November 2, 2006, 5:04 GMT)

I am in total agreement with you , Kamran. Mr. Nasim Ashraf should be making statements to support Inzi and Bob. However, he is found making several "confidence-breaking" comments. He first talked about reassessing Inzi's captaincy, then he says that the team needs to "balance religion and cricket", indirectly saying that Inzi forces players to pray. He should know that the whole cricketing world sense the positive impact of religion on this team. And after all that, he puts full responsibility of the Oval debacle on Inzi. I admired Mr. Shehryar for backing Inzi and Woolmer, as he did in the Oval fiasco. One just cant help feeling that something is going to break. I fear that Inzi and/or Woolmer may soon just leave, tired of all the controversies and pressure. Mr. Ashraf should rethink his strategy and approach, before he causes any more damage.

Posted by Pakfan on (November 2, 2006, 3:54 GMT)

The issue is not an isolated incident. Consistency has been a non-existent quality of Pak teams always. As far as the always quoted and much praised " huge talent in Pakistan" I always wonder where does that talent exist. Given the standard of our domestic cricket, performances there certainly shouldn't count towards a potential international career. The point comes down to "raise the standard of cricket (and everything else) in Pakistan and you will have players capable of performing at par with Aussies or SA etc." But until then there is no way to tell whether we have the talent or not. Except for the seventies and eighties, our team is usually made up of 3 or 4 international caliber players and others with "great potential"--potentials that are never realized.Australian fast bowlers have had injury problems, too. But they can pick some unkown entity who will make a mark (examples: Rodney Hogg, Terry Alderman, Geoff Dymock, Gary Gilmore, Bob Massie etc. etc.). Only because their system allows them to test the player's true capabilities before making an international debut.So, You are right in advising the PCB to focus on improving the standards of domestic cricket and the wickets. However, I doubt that we truly have as much talent as we are made to believe. As far as the PCB set up is concerned, I believe it would be more realistic to suggest that we rename our beloved country as "Ad Hoc Republic of Pakistan" where ad hocism will always be the rule.

Posted by nomi on (November 2, 2006, 3:39 GMT)

Mr Kamran u ve done a great job analysing the situation. Pakistani team is going to find themselves in a sinking ship after Asif and Shoaib getting Banned from Playing Criket For 1 year and 2 year it is going to be tough for pakistan to make up something for coming world cup even coming home series

Posted by Zishan Iqbal on (November 2, 2006, 1:21 GMT)

Totally agree 100% - we pay for the best coach in the world, so lets listen to him! Lets implement his ideas and lets build a strong competitive mindset - one that says lets be the best, lets always win, lets always be looking to improve, lets always fight for everything and not for how much money we can get! But sadly, I feel the truth is that this will NEVER happen with Pakistani cricket and we will always be the ok but inconsistent team that could have been great. And if that turns out to be the case, then Ive had enough - I have no more energy to support this team. PS I feel so sorry for Mohammed Asif - it seems from the statement that he is just a poor, uneducated village boy who has been badly let down by his cricket board. Shame on the PCB for that.

Posted by Atif on (November 2, 2006, 1:03 GMT)

I like the fact that you changed your opinion on Younis captaining Pakistan in ODIs. I always felt a good leader is the one, who promotes his team mates, not compete with them and who wouldn't hang his players out to dry and escape the blame himself. Inzamam stood up for his men repeatedly during his tenure; Nasim Ashraf didn't, even during his first month. First, he brought up a non-issue of religion in cricket. Second, he went to senate and blamed Inzy on whole Oval fiasco, when we all know PCB's who's who were all there at the time. It is sad that we have so many problems. What is sadder is we keep adding to those instead of solving them. Shehryar's departure was one step forward. Nasim's arrival is unfortunately two steps backwards.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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