February 4, 2003

Saeed Anwar: Complacency will be our biggest enemy

JOHANNESBURG (South Africa), February 4: Charismatic opener Saeed Anwar believes complacency would be Pakistan's biggest enemy in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup that begins February 9.

Saeed Anwar facing Inzamam
Saeed Anwar facing Inzamam in the nets
Photo © PCB
"We have a great team and have all the tools to win the World Cup. But we can't afford to be complacent. We will have to realize that to win this tournament, we have to play our best cricket, take every game seriously and play the hardest cricket we can," Saeed said on Tuesday.

The left-hander added: "We didn't take Bangladesh seriously in 1999 and lost, and after our 2-1 win in Australia (last year), we got complacent and had to suffer. But I think these are examples from which we can learn and try not to repeat them."

Saeed, a former captain, will be playing in his third World Cup. His performance in cricket's most prestigious tournament has been brilliant as he averages 53.61 from 16 matches, including two centuries and three half centuries.

"Every team will come full guns blazing in this tournament. We have to keep ourselves cool, united and focused. And when we play as a team, we are most dangerous team. We are dangerous at the moment because we are closely knit and very focused.

"The best part of this team is that despite being on the receiving end in the last few months, I haven't seen the boys down or dejected. In fact, all the players are geared up, motivated and rearing to go.

"In this background, I think only the fools would rule us out," he said.

Saeed said the Pakistan team needed one good win to get into the gear and if that (win) comes against Australia, the Pakistan team would be unstoppable.

"Australia, arguably, are the best team today. If we beat them, we will be inshallah in top gear by the time we face India. The match against India is eagerly awaited and though we haven't beaten them in World Cup, we enjoyed excellent success rate against them in the recent past.

"But the key to our success has to be fit fast bowlers. In Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, we have strike bowlers who are very hot to handle. India has shown vulnerability against quality fast bowling and I think our threesome will just knock them over if they are in form and rhythm," he said.

Asked if he would like to pinpoint one player whom he thinks would play the decisive role for Pakistan, Saeed said: "I think we have the highest number of match-winners than any team. The boys have single-handedly won games for Pakistan in the past. But now, we have to put those performances together to produce the best results.

"At times having such a world class team is also a problems. Here I must appreciate and admire Waqar Younis who played with a depleted team in the past few months and didn't give up. Had I been in his place, I would have thrown in the towel."

Saeed observed that Pakistan had 11 players who had played in the 1999 World Cup. "But I don't remember if we have played together in the recent past. Some players were always missing for one reason or the other. But now we are together, helped by some exciting newcomers and inshallah results would be positive."

Saeed said he was personally very motivated for the World Cup. He said had he not considered himself to be able to deliver in the World Cup, he would never have come here.

"I had lost appetite for cricket because of injuries, lack of form and death of my daughter. I had thought to retire but then the teammates, family members and friends convinced me to carry on. I think there is more motivation than it has been before because it is a World Cup and a great honour for any sportsman to represent his country in three World Cups."

Saeed urged the followers of the game to stay positive.

"The nation is sensitive because their only hopes now are in cricket team. At times our victories don't get the credit and appreciation we deserve. But one defeat starts speculations. If you have to reach a wrong conclusion, then you start to speculate. Unfortunately, that has happened in the past with talks of infighting, dissent, groupings etc etc and these all generate after we lose a match or a series.

"This team is a very closely knit family where every player cares for the other. The boys are determined to do well and inshallah we will by the help of Almighty," he said.

Samiul Hasan
Media Manager
Pakistan Cricket Team
February 4, 2003