Akram denies being approached to coach Pakistan
Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan captain, has quashed growing speculation that he is about to replace Geoff Lawson as the coach of Pakistan, saying that nobody from the Pakistan Cricket Board has approached him.
Local media has buzzed in recent days with unconfirmed reports that the PCB is unhappy with Lawson and is looking for a replacement. Akram has been conducting a camp for fast bowlers in Lahore at the same time and was asked, on his first day, whether he would be interested in the coaching job.
A positive response - albeit with qualifications - and subsequent reports of a fall-out between Lawson and members of the selection committee has led many to conclude that Akram is being lined up.
But Akram said he had not been sounded out yet, though if the conditions were right, he would consider the post. "There has been no offer," he told Cricinfo. "Nobody from the board has approached me officially or unofficially with anything. I have a few years left on my contract with ESPN (as a television commentator and analyst) so anything that comes would have to be weighed up against that. Ultimately it would depend on a number of things."
Akram also ruled out the possibility of working as a bowling coach with the team, suggesting that he would prefer becoming a full-time coach.
Akram's work as a floating, freelance bowling consultant of sorts has been successful since he retired from the game in 2003. A number of Indian bowlers have benefited from his informal sessions and last year, in his first official role, his two-week camp for Pakistani fast bowlers, was widely considered a success. Sohail Tanvir - though he had already been spotted - benefited immensely from the tutelage and Akram also pushed the case of Mohammad Aamer, who has had a successful time at the Under-19 level. He is working this time with the likes of Sohail Khan and Anwar Ali.
The development comes amid growing uncertainty over Lawson, though whether there is any substance to the unrest is not yet clear. The coach is expected to arrive in Pakistan from a month-long holiday in Australia tomorrow, and he is likely to arrive to a barrage of questions about his relationship with the selectors and his future.
The selection committee and Lawson both deny that there are problems between them, though there have been run-ins in the series against Zimbabwe earlier this year. The situation was resolved at the time, but matters have reportedly taken a turn for the worse again in the aftermath of the Bangladesh series, the central issue remaining final say in selection. A few days ago, a local Urdu newspaper published an interview reportedly given by Lawson to an unspecified Australian radio station in which he is said to have criticised the selectors and some senior players.
No PCB official has been available for comment on the situation so far.