England in Pakistan, 2005-06 October 28, 2005

Imran lashes out at Inzamam, Pakistan board

Cricinfo staff

Imran Khan thinks Pakistan have already adopted a negative mindset before the England series © Getty Images

Imran Khan has lashed out at what he perceives to be negative statements emanating from the Pakistan camp prior to the series against England.

Imran, among Pakistan's most influential captains and one who led Pakistan to their first series win in England in 1987, criticised comments made by Inzamam-ul-Haq, the current captain, and Shaharyar Khan, chairman PCB, labeling England as favourites.

Speaking to the London-based Daily Telegraph from Islamabad, Imran, now a politician, said, "Inzamam has said England start as favourites, the Cricket Board chairman said England are formidable. They're going to destroy the Pakistan team by saying this.

"I can understand the newspapers and television commentators making England favourites. But I don't understand the cricket captain and the chairman of the board making these statements. Whenever I stepped on the cricket field I always thought we could beat anybody. I would never admit defeat before the match began. Otherwise you get into a negative mindset."

This isn't the first time Imran has publicly expressed his disapproval with Inzamam as a leader. Although Imran considers him the best player of fast bowling, and among the best batsmen in the world, he openly questioned his captaincy credentials when Pakistan toured Australia last year, a series they ended up losing 3-0. Inzamam at the time admitted he had become depressed because of the remarks.

Imran also highlighted the threat Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff will pose to Pakistan's brittle batting line. "They are tall and get a lot of bounce. They also reverse swing it. Previously English bowlers had no idea of reverse swing. After the new ball lost its shine on the sub-continent they struggled. In Pakistan the ball does swing even when it's old, but only in January and February when it's cold. Now it's rather warm and reverse swing with the old ball will be very important."

But it was Flintoff, the first genuine allrounder since the days of Kapil, Botham, Hadlee and Imran himself, who merited special attention from Imran. "I first saw him during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. I did say that that here is a player who can fill Ian Botham's boots - an allrounder who can go in as a batsman or a bowler."

Much of Pakistan's success, he believes, will lie with their fast bowlers. "Shoaib, Sami, Naved and Umar Gul must perform, and then Pakistan have a chance. Umar Gul was man of the match in the Lahore Test against India, which Pakistan won, but then he was injured. He's more like Glenn McGrath, high arm action, not extreme pace, but moves it both ways and in the air. He's Pakistan's best hope."

Imran also suggested that this series was crucial for Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach. "Nobody in Pakistan worries about Bob being English; that isn't the issue. But this series will be the real test for him. They were wiped out in Australia, but in India they drew the Test series and won the one-dayers. The good thing for Bob is expectations are not high."