World Cup 2007 December 19, 2006

Inzamam's mission to surpass Imran

Inzamam-ul-Haq is on a mission and that mission is to win the next World Cup and surpass his former captain, Imran Khan

Despite initial speculation that Inzamam-ul-Haq would not lead Pakistan in next year's World Cup, the cricket board has sensibly confirmed his appointment. I confess that I am one of the many who have often despaired at Inzamam's moribund captaincy - and it is something that might still cost Pakistan dear - but he is the obvious choice. Younis Khan, who retains the potential to succeed him, showed with his antics before Pakistan left for the Champions Trophy and his tactically suspect performance during the tournament that he was unready.

Inzamam, though, is on a mission, and that mission is to win the next World Cup and surpass his former captain, Imran Khan.

You might think that surpassing the Great Khan is something not worth contemplating but he is. And he believes he has the team to do it. Moreover, Inzamam has launched a campaign to build a hospital in his hometown, Multan. I'm sure that rings a few bells. Inzamam may not have Imran's leadership skills but he does have a dominant presence in the team, a persona whose moods dictate the mindset of his charges. Pakistan will need Inzamam to be exuding postive energy between now and the end of the World Cup. A return to the dark mood that engulfed the second half of Pakistan's tour of England will be a disaster.

The second piece of good news to emerge from Pakistan is that Bob Woolmer's position is secure until after the World Cup. Woolmer believes Pakistan had a good series against West Indies and he is upbeat about his team's chances in next year's tournament. He has always held this positive outlook even in the depths of the Hair incident when he considered resigning his post.

These moves are a vote for stability, a strategy supported by this blog. But the PCB has still got a long way to go to answer its critics. Particularly when it believes that the creation of a fielding award will improve the team's fielding, and then awards the prize to Inzamam. And perturbingly appoints a friend of the chairman of the cricket board and the president of Pakistan as its media manager for the World Cup. I don't think the PCB has ever understood how the media works - this is an organisation that pays for journalists to go on tours but who barely write a word - and I don't think it ever will. As long as friendship is more important than merit, Pakistan will never realise its talent in cricket or anything else.

In the true Pakistani way, one step forward and one step back. But the step forward is the one that matters for Pakistan's World Cup chances and it is the players who will create the memories to treasure and not the legion of hangers-on desperate to see their names in lights.

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