April 10, 2003

PCB releases World Cup Review Committee report

The Review Committee, constituted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to review the performance of the Pakistan cricket team in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, has observed that although the team selected for the event was an experienced one but was also an ageing one, a crucial factor restraining it from delivering in big matches.

The committee, that included Col (Rtd) Naushad Ali, Aaqib Javed and Sultan Rana, submitted its report to PCB Chairman Lt Gen Tauqir Zia on March 24, 2003 The detailed Review Committee Report, along with the recommendations, can be found at http://www.cricinfo.com/link_to_database/NATIONAL/PAK/

"Some of our players could not keep up with the pressure of World Cup being old enough though (and) experienced," the committee observed in its report. The average age of the Pakistan cricket team was 28-and-a-half and included five world record holders in Wasim Akram, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Saeed Anwar."

Although world champions in 1992 and finalists in 1999, the team failed to qualify for the second round in the 2003 World Cup which eventually led to the replacement of nine players, installation of a new selection committee and fresh team management with a new captain and coach.

"Pressure games require young and fresh legs which were lacking in our big players. The selection committee had to select them as there were no replacements available and they (selectors) were not ready to take a chance with the youngsters," it said, adding that prior to the World Cup the selectors did try 21 players but fell back on the experienced ones as the youngsters failed to show the temperament and skills for high pressure matches.

Pakistan lost matches to Australia, England and India while their game against Zimbabwe was rained-off. Their victories were against qualifiers Namibia and Holland.

"The regrettable 'star-syndrome hype' before the World Cup placed huge pressure on the team that they had not the character to contend with. This hype contributed to their psychological collapse," it noted, adding: "The exaggerated expectations that this team of ageing stars and the middle-level players almost all of whom had shown a marked decline over the last four years would be main contenders for the Cup given also the team's sub-standard performance over the past two years, was not only an exaggerated pipe-dream but also put unnecessary public pressure on a mediocre team that would have to raise its level several notches before it became a serious contender for the Cup."

"The media hype, the flashy send-off, the statements from top to bottom that we would win the World Cup was inappropriate and placed the team under a gratuitous handicap. The situation demanded modesty and a realistic assessment of our chances."

The committee recommended that only those senior players who were fit and still capable of performing be retained and the youngsters be given an extended run to prove their mettle and talent. However, the committee has suggested that the services of the seniors must be lauded, acknowledged and appreciated as they have done wonders for the country and won numerous laurels for the nation. It has also been recommended that a strategy be chalked out to benefit from the experience of the seniors in various fields relating to rebuilding of the team for future.

The committee has also taken a serious view of preferential treatment meted out to, at least one player, by the cricket board. "One of the highlighted divisive factor was the special treatment accorded to Shoaib Akhtar by appointing Dr Tauseef Razzak to look after his special physical and psychological needs. This had caused predictable resentment among the team members, particularly among the seniors.

"One of the main concerns due to large number of officials on the tour (was that they would) step into each others domain and this led to frictions that would (eventually) permeate down the team."

The committee noted that the preparations for the tournament were well-planned when they had timely tours to Zimbabwe and South Africa in November and December to help acclimatise. During these tours the team played four Tests and 10 one-day internationals. Only other teams to have toured South Africa prior to the World Cup were Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The team was sent early, arriving in Johannesburg on January 25 for a pre-World Cup training camp although the opening match against Australia was on February 11.

"Before the departure for the World Cup, some of the senior players like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Inzamam-ul-Haq had inspirational meetings with Imran Khan who guided them and afterwards declared that the selected team for the World Cup was the best available."

The committee report also discussed rumours of infighting and groupings in the team. The report clearly states; "The differences within the team were rumoured. Five senior players and the team manager (had) met the Chairman PCB and assured (him that) the differences, if any, would be left behind (before departure)."

On the much discussed and debated captaincy issue, the committee observed that the decision to retain Waqar Younis was a wise one as he had been leading the team since March 2001. The committee agreed on the policy of continuity and opined with Waqar's success rate of 62 per cent, he deserved the job. In addition, the committee said he was totally committed and physically and mentally fit to carry out the assignment.

"During the World Cup, Waqar did not bowl at his best taking only seven wickets at an average of 25. He is an attacking bowler but his economy rate was much too high at nearly six runs per over," it said while questioning Waqar's decision to give the new ball to Shoaib that might have lessened his (own) effectiveness particularly in the background that he had picked up bulk of his wickets with the new ball."

Although the committee was sympathetic with Waqar while hinting that he didn't get the best output from his boys, it did note he had a stubborn attitude and was a poor communicator. "He is a (seasoned) campaigner (who is) straight forward (but) at times stubborn. He expected high level of commitment from his players but unfortunately did not get the same, including from the vice-captain. He struggled to communicate with some of his players resulting in frustration for himself and others."

The committee also agreed that Wasim Akram could not have been appointed captain in the backdrop of Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum's recommendations that were implemented by the cricket board in May 2000. Justice Qayyum, who investigated the charges of betting and match-fixing in Pakistan cricket, had suggested that Wasim should never be made captain again.

As regards the overall performance of the team, the committee admitted that it was below-par for reasons discussed above. But as far as team selection for particular matches are concerned, the committee observed that it was the domain of the tour selection committee that included manager, coach, captain, vice-captain and two senior players, including Wasim Akram. "However, the eventual authority was with the captain and that always prevailed."

The committee, for the match against India, felt that it was the only time that the batting clicked but questioned the commitment of the players. "After achieving a good target of 273, our bowling and fielding did not come upto mark. This is evident from the fact that Wasim Akram did not get any wicket, Shoaib Akhtar got one and Abdul Razzaq dropped the catch of Sachin Tendulkar at a crucial juncture of the match. The performance can be attributed to pressure of a big match and professional commitments of the players."

According to the committee, the other reasons for poor performances could be because of too much one-day cricket; away home tours; shortage of talent hunt because of away tours; high expectations from our superstars; and loss of toss in the match against England at Cape Town.

Please click to read or download report |Review Committee Report|

Samiul Hasan
General Manager - Media
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10 April 2003