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May 14, 2012

Pakistan cricket

Professor takes the T20 chair

Kamran Abbasi
Mohammad Hafeez works towards midwicket, Bangladesh v Pakistan, Asia Cup final, Mirpur, March 22, 2012
Leadership seems unlikely to be Hafeez's problem - it's the batting that may undo him  © AFP
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Mohammad Hafeez, professor of the Pakistan cricket team, has now also become its Twenty20 captain. The professor's research interests might initially be restricted to T20 international cricket but impressive early work is a logical path to a more substantial role in one-day internationals. Misbah-ul Haq, who stepped down as the T20 captain, will be equally reluctant to surrender his ODI job but it is hard to see Hafeez's assignment as anything less than an interview for a bigger challenge.

Some Pakistan fans will be disappointed. Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi both still have their supporters although Hafeez has been the obvious successor to Misbah for over a year. Afridi might feel hardest done by. Younis stepped away from T20 internationals voluntarily whilst Afridi lost his captaincy thanks to the erratic decision making of Ijaz Butt, erstwhile chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. Afridi was an unlikely captain but he brought a wild spirit to Pakistan's one-day challenges that helped revive his country's cricket when it was on its knees.

Misbah took that leadership and revival role further, firmly establishing himself as one of the most pivotal captains in Pakistan's unsettled history. Misbah's story isn't finished--and neither is Afridi's nor Younis's for that matter--but the England tour of UAE posed questions about Misbah's suitability as a captain, and even as a player, in the limited overs forms of cricket. Those doubts and the wisdom to groom a successor have worked in Hafeez's favour.

When he was first introduced in international cricket, Hafeez instantly gave the impression of a versatile cricketer of good sense, albeit a specialist of bits-and-pieces. A poor man's Shoaib Malik he was at the time; now Malik can only watch from the sidelines, an unfulfilled career ebbing away. Hafeez, meanwhile, has grown in stature, securing his position in Pakistan's one-day side as much as an opening bowler as a batsman -- an extra skill that helps buffer the niggling complaints about his batting.

Indeed, leadership seems unlikely to be Hafeez's problem. It's the batting that may undo him. Misbah has a thorough all-round technique and an iron resolve that have allowed him to flourish as a batsman during his captaincy. Hafeez is less technically able and his temperament, as a batsman, has never been entirely convincing, especially away from the familiar places of Asia. Yet leadership has unpredictable effects on players. Some shrivel, others puff out their chests and achieve beyond their natural ability. Pakistan will be hoping that Hafeez falls into the second category, for Pakistan's genuine captaincy options are few.

In Dav Whatmore, Hafeez has a shrewd and experienced ally, who understands the demands of international cricket as well as the nature of Asian cricketers. These are reasons to be cheerful; a suggestion that Pakistan are looking to build again. A new coach, a new T20 captain, and a clutch of new and recalled players spell the start of a fresh era in Pakistan cricket. To anticipate where it will lead might require the wisdom of more than a mere professor but we can be sure that Misbah, Hafeez, and Whatmore will be resolute in their desire to graduate with honours.

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

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Keywords: Captaincy, Club/league cricket

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Hyder Ali on (June 22, 2012, 18:17 GMT)

Dear sir,

The captain should be a player that commands automatic selection and knows how to lead from the front. Unfortunately Mohamed Hafiz is more like a Professor nathulal who is still inconsistent and someone like Shoeb Malik who is very successful captain of Sialkot stallions is the ultimate long term leader.

Regards,

Posted by Asif on (June 20, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

Pak lost their 2nd successive series by a huge margin 3-1 having earlier lost to england 4-0.Those who wanted mizbah to lead in odi's should at least realise that pak need an aggressive captain like afridi who was leading the side from the front & was sacked for speaking the truth & refusing to be the yes man of pcb & the coach.Pak under afridi after giving a brilliant display against england in england,south africa in dubai,new zealand in newzealand ,west indies in west indies,2011 wc & 2010 t/20 wc(semi finalists) changed the captain for petty reasons & u can see the team performing so badly.When afridi was the captain the team was fighting till the end & were never disgraced even in defeat.I am sure afridi can still play till the next wc in 2015 & the pcb should immediately appoint him captain for a long term & should not wait till afridi makes another hasty decision to retire as he seems disappointed with his own performance eventhough his bowling was pretty good.

Posted by SHIYAM RAZAK on (June 20, 2012, 4:18 GMT)

I think hafeez needs to bat down the order since, he has lost his confidence in both ODI & T20's. However, he can still play as a test opener since it give more time at the crease to get him self fit in.

Generally Pakistan needs to drop, few of their current players such as GUL, YUNUS, MISBAH, SARFRAZ,from ODI & T20 team.

Bring YASIR ARFAT, HAMAD AZAM, ABDUR RAZZAQ,IMRAN NAZIR, AHMED SHEZAD SHOAIB MALIK, KAMRAN AKMAL/ ZULQARNAIN HAIDER/ ADNAN AKMAL,

MY T20 WORLD CUP SQUAD IS

01.) M. HAFEEZ 02.) KAMRAN AKMAL 03.) AHMED SHEHZAD 04.) SHOAIB MALIK 05.) UMAR AKMAL 06.) IMRANN NAZIR 07.) SHAHID AFRIDI 08.) ABDUR RAZZAQ 09.) SOHAIL TANVIR 10.) YASIR ARFAT 11.) RANA NAVEED 12.) SHAZAIB HASAN 13.) SAEED AJMAL 14.) AIZAZ CHEEMA 15.) MANSOOR AMJAD

Posted by khalil on (June 20, 2012, 2:54 GMT)

Hafeez is a professor,who does a lot of calculations for scoring a ZERO. 5 ducks in 8 limited overs games.

Posted by HUS on (June 20, 2012, 2:51 GMT)

Playing too many dot balls & difficulty in rotating the strike by a set of players having similar technique has led to our downfall.Look at Akmal,having so much talent,he still has no knowledge of the basic cricket. When he was well setteld at the crease he missed so many balls. He was trying all the time to play a ball on the leg stump towards the off & a ball on the off towards the leg side.which could easily be played/placed on that particular side. Resultantly missed so many scoring opportunities.

Posted by SN Qazi on (June 18, 2012, 1:52 GMT)

Pakistan should drop Younis and Hafeez for the next match . They need to send out a message that continued lack of performance cannot be tolerated .

Posted by Javed Hadan on (June 17, 2012, 20:40 GMT)

The real and persosting problem for Pakistan cricket is that long persisting non performers continue to retain their position in the Team such as Younis Khan , Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat . Hafeez needs tone rested and should prove himself in. national cricket . Misbah himself only performs income innings out of eight. PCB, if it doesn't,t take the long overdu decisions and gets rid of the dead wood in the Team then I am afraid the Pakistan cricket is doomed.

Posted by ark on (June 17, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

For the 1st time SL has got an all rounder ,who can turn the game on his head through batting,bowling & most importantly fielding. Thisara Parera is a huge man. If can dodge/avoid injuries,the way he is flying around,will be one of the finnest all rounder on the scene of cricket. Best of luck Parera

Posted by Shamshad Ali Khan on (June 17, 2012, 3:46 GMT)

The retirement of Younis Khan along with Imran Garhat, Shoiab Malik and Ageez has to e done now without further delay so hat their damage to Palistan cricket can be stopped.

Posted by Shamshad Ali Khan on (June 16, 2012, 19:32 GMT)

Hafeez and Younis definitely need tone rested , retired respectively . It was a huge blunder not today Sami .

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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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