New age July 16, 2007

Henry I, the Australian King of Pakistan

Now, by all accounts, Geoff "Henry" Lawson, has been chosen to wear the crown of thorns

When Bob Woolmer died, the world's media venomously declared that no foreigner would coach Pakistan again. Dr Nasim Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan board, prematurely decided on a local man. But when the shortlist was revealed, it exclusively comprised foreigners--all Australians. Dav Whatmore suffered the fate of a favourite; his enemies conspired to bring about his fall while rumours circulated that Pakistan's players would not like his hard work ethic.

Now, by all accounts, Geoff "Henry" Lawson, has been chosen to wear the crown of thorns. Being a classically tough Australian paceman, he might just relish the pricks he will encounter. Let's hope so. This is a time for optimism and good wishes.

Lawson's great strength is that he has made a success of leading with a positive attitude. Pakistan cricket has been least successful when in its defensive moods before Imran Khan and after Wasim Akram. His advantage over Pakistan's other foreign coaches--and his competitors this time around--is that he has most recently played international cricket. He also lives and breathes the Australian way, which has become the road all other cricket nations now seek.

Problems remain. The language barrier requires an effective strategy; poor communication is the root of much disunity. Lawson is an untried coach at the international level, hence this is as much an experiment for him as it is for Pakistan. Most importantly, the PCB is yet to prove that it can support a professional coach with the required framework, management style, and wisdom.

But Lawson, a qualified optometrist, is familiar with recognising and treating myopia. From a tearaway fast bowler with a long, angular run; he has become a thoughtful and respected commentator on the game. All his statements during the convoluted selection process have demonstrated a well-considered enthusiasm for his new job.

Lawson's first task will be to revive Pakistan for the Twenty20 World Cup, a tournament that Pakistan will be expected to do well in. The longer objectives will be to improve Pakistan's performance in Australia, South Africa, and England, leading to the next World Cup, which has become the benchmark of a coach's success.

But many an enthusiast has been broken by the calamitous nature of Asian cricket. King Henry, for Pakistan's sake, must fare better.

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