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January 4, 2007

World Cup 2007

A one-man vision won't work

Kamran Abbasi
Inzamam-ul-Haq and Bob Woolmer discuss tactics, Trent Bridge, September 7, 2006
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Inzamam sung a famliar song on arrival in South Africa: The past is forgotten we're all for one and one for all. Pakistan churn out this piece of ham-fisted spin-doctoring so often that it has become tedious. For once, it would be nice to know that such statements aren't required. Inzamam, though, has brought this current controversy about the tour selection and his relationship with Shoaib Akhtar upon himself. It's simple enough to conclude that power is back in the hands of Pakistan's captain after Nasim Ashraf's premature attempt to slap him down. The reinstatement of Mushtaq Ahmed is evidence enough. Magic Mushy may well have much to offer Pakistan cricket but I'm not sure what he could have done in the past couple of months to bring about this volte-face.

The lesson that Ashraf has learned is that people care more about cricketers than they do about officials. And secondly, people care more about results than they do about individual cricketers. Pakistan's abysmal failure in the Champions Trophy punctured Ashraf's machismo but the worry is that the pendulum has swung too far back in Inzamam's favour for the good of Pakistan cricket.

Inzamam's hold over the team is a double-edged sword. If he uses his influence in a positive way Pakistan may well be capable of achieving great success this year. However, if his mood crushes the people around him, which it began to do during last summer's tour of England, Pakistan cannot succeed.

Imran Khan once had a similar hold over his team but he was wise enough to know that he had to harness the talents of people that he may not have liked or necessarily agreed with. The outcome was more important than pride--although he had plenty of that too. The test of leadership is whether or not you will include or seek counsel from people you may not choose as your friends but who have something to contribute to the mission. This is a test that Inzamam has not passed, and for the sake of Pakistan cricket he needs to. There is a huge risk in allowing one man to monopolise strategy, particularly when he has able support around him. Indeed, Inzamam is no Imran. He has never struck me as having the clarity of vision or ideas to do it alone.

Inzamam has succeeded in many ways in his career, and he is a contender for the title of Pakistan's greatest ever batsman. He has single-handedly won international matches and almost single-handedly won a World Cup. He has brought great stability to Pakistan cricket under his leadership. But his biggest failing is that he has become over-bearing and fallen too easily into a negative mindset. This is evident in the kinds of pitches that Pakistan have prepared under his leadership, the suggestions to Mohammad Sami to drop his speed, his on-field decisions, and now the selection of the current touring party. Pakistan had no need for so many batsmen, particularly those in the middle order, for this short tour of South Africa. That extra place should have gone to a bowler.

Yet that is Inzamam's way. It is the mindset that I believe inhibits Pakistan cricket. Yes, stability is essential and I have argued for it myself, but leadership is about allowing the talents of your charges to flourish and managing--not excluding--difficult personalities. It is also about seeking wise counsel and including your management team in deciding which is the best way forward. Inzamam, great player that he is, needs to harness the knowledge of his fellows and free the spirit of his players--and he needs to begin now.

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

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Posted by Farhad on (January 25, 2007, 7:06 GMT)

Inzamam is indeed no Imran. Shoaib has been mishandled by both Inzamam and Bob and Pak has suffered. An out-and-out matchwinner has been discouraged and kept out of the squad only for the magnificent paceman to return to set up a splendid triumph on his return. So near to the World cup, the two incalcitrant arrogant ego-filled individuals are harming Pak chances inexorable and for this both need a kick up their backsides.

Posted by rehan on (January 20, 2007, 22:04 GMT)

There we again! Shoaib is unfit again!!! Are you happy now Kamran? Thats why wise people say "think before you speak" Shoaib is good for nothing. He is unfit again only bolwed 11 overs in a game and he is unfit. Does he merit a selection. Aren't the selectors were right? And people like Karmran Abbasi blames it on the captain who is leading from the front and kept the team a single unit. We dont need Shoaib in the team Period!!!! When people will understand that he is a negative influence in the team. He should be dropped from the world cup list of probables as well.

Posted by AzMaj on (January 20, 2007, 17:19 GMT)

Kamran, i always thought this particular discussion was based on an unfair premise - and, uncharacteristically, you underplayed Shoaib's hand in dictating his own fate. There's no point in us looking going beyond the facts and pointing fingers at Inzi, when, all along, Shoaib's fitness record has been dubious and, today's events highlight the problems he creates for both Inzamam and the Pakistan team. I personally don't think he can perform for more than one innings without the use of 'supplements' and wholeheartedly believe that is the only way he got through the England and India series last winter in Pakistan.

Posted by Dr. Mohammad Belgami on (January 17, 2007, 6:55 GMT)

It is not fair to say that Kaneria is overrated. He is and will be a very good bowler with time. He s still young and can learn many tricks. In the first test in SA it was not his fault. Many reasons were there - the total was small to defend, Kallis and Amla played well. Most of all the other two pace bowlers were mere passengers. The match was lost when they surrendered their wickets for loose shots and irresponsible shot selection. There are fundamental basics as to how to select and execute a pull/hook stroke. They play impulsively and don't use their minds properly. Also they lack application. Younis khan is a very good player and successful too. But his pull shot is still not perfect. Same goes with Yasser and playing Faisal Iqbal was a big gamble, they should have palyed Asim Kamal who always has price for his wicket. The bowling eresources were not there. Please don'tblame Kaneria. he needs to work on nicities and subteleties as Gooch. wait andhave patience.

Posted by Ahmad on (January 11, 2007, 16:49 GMT)

I think Inzi is a class batsman. He was the one most likely to stop a collapse in the Pak team before Yousuf's surge in form. Someone mentioned his poor scores against England when he came back from injury or suspension but he had scored 9 consecutive 50's against them before that. He has to play and whilst he's playing he's gotta be captain - for those who don't like it (I pull my hair out at his lack of attacking intent sometimes) they at least have the satisfaction of knowing he won't be there for long. In terms of the openers - I think Afridi needs to be playing and yes he needs to be opening in tests. Regardless of what you say, when he was called back into the team he averaged 40 as an opener which I dont think is matched by any of the others. That allows you to keep Malik at 6, use Afridi's bowling and have an additional player to add to the other one who can catch and stop the ball (Malik). People talk about Nazir, Butt, Umer etc etc but unfortunately they are crap. Are any one of these young openers better than Alastair Cook - Englands 20 year old? Not even close so until we have a player of that standard Afridi needs to open with the best of the remaining mediocre pak - probably Hafeez at the moment. Could someone also explain to me why Razzaq plays for Pakistan in tests? What does he do? What has he done - ever? Apart from being stubborn on occasion and scoring 6 off 90 balls what does he do? Average is an understatement. This is my main criticism of Inzi and why he'll never be Imran. Imran hated Sarfraz but realised that having Sarfraz open with him was the best thing for Pak. Because of Inzi Shoaibs career is being wasted by not playing him on the odd occasion that he's fit (cos he's doesnt dance when Inzi says dance), Razzaq + fit = selection (cos he's his mate) and leggie Mushie in and out, now in at Waqar's expense (cos he's his mate) to coach a team who's strength is fast bowling. This cronyism and dislike for others that don't toe his line is unnacceptable and detrimental to Pakistan cricket. Inzi is a legend but at the point of retirement after a long career - he still has lot to learn.

Posted by Naser on (January 11, 2007, 12:10 GMT)

David Furrows, Still think India has a classier battling lineup? I suggest u look at the score card at Centurion Indian would have crumbled by now. Man these India lovin brits..

Posted by hareem on (January 10, 2007, 16:04 GMT)

Does Abdul rehman, Yasir Hameed, Umar Gul counts when it comes to spotting talent ? Please give credit where due. For the first time after Imran, Pakistan has a Captain, who really is a Captain yet he has his own way of leadership which is and has benefitted Pak Cricket.

Posted by Ali on (January 10, 2007, 13:38 GMT)

Dawar, never heard so much rubbish before, I take it you do not follow cricket reqularly?

Posted by Shehzad Ghani on (January 10, 2007, 11:23 GMT)

One thing that Imran had and Inzi doesn't is: Javed Miandad. Being an even better tactitian of the game, Imran knew Miandad was indispensible, even though Imran personally didn't like Miandad. In my opinion, Miandad, with all the things people say about his personality, was still the greastest captian Pakistan has produced. There has not been a cricketer with better understanding of the game of cricket than him.

Imran knew his importance and used him to his own advantage, which was very wise.

Posted by Dawar on (January 9, 2007, 19:31 GMT)

Dear All,

Test & One Day series against South Africa is not start yet and several Pakistani players became unfit.

Specially, without playing any match against South Africa, Abdul Razak & Shoaib Malik are not fully fit. Abdul Razak probably will miss the whole test series.

The only good thing this time is Abdul Razak announced his fitness problem prior to aboard.

From some time performance of Abdul Razak & Shoaib Malik is not satisfactory.

Specially, tour outside the country both players are not performing well but also faces fitness problem.

Last time when our cricket team visited to Australia, Abdul Razak found his sickness just before the match. He woke up and found himself seriously unfit (with Asthma and Weakness).

He did not play against strong Australian team.

As soon as we came back to Pakistan, he recovered from his sickness remarkably.

And become the part of national cricket team without any proper treatment.

Board should consider fitness and form of all players. Especially against good team like Australia, South Africa.

It looks mental level to take stress is not very strong.

Recently they unfit against good teams or in the big tournaments.

As a Pakistani I hope Pakistan will win the series, but realistically our performance in South Africa never was good. And chances of wining are less.

Just before world cup it looks like , Players who will not perform well against South Africa will not be considered for world cup.

But if some players like Abdul Razzak & Sohaib Malik will not play against south africa especially in test series, they will be automatically considered for the world cup because they did not perform bad.

They are good players but unfortunately their current performance is not satisfactory at all.

If you see the past history of Abdul Razzak quite often he become unfit in big events or against strong team like Australia.

Before select any player for the world cup we should also consider fitness along with the form. Otherwise player can be unfit before any crucial match.

I think PCB should work on their mental strength.

Regards, Dawar Naqvi California, USA

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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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