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October 20, 2008
The ongoing cull in Pakistan cricket took a high-profile turn today with the announcement by the PCB that Geoff Lawson's contract as national coach will not be renewed after April 2009.
"The day his contract expires he will be no more with the Pakistan team," the newly-appointed PCB chairman Ijaz Butt said at his first press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "We have no utility for Lawson."
Lawson was appointed by Butt's predecessor Nasim Ashraf in 2007 on a two-year contract but his impact since then has been sketchy: though Pakistan reached the final of the World Twenty20 last year and won the Kitply Cup this year, they also lost major series at home to South Africa and away to India. They also failed to qualify for the final of the Asia Cup earlier this year.
As a result Lawson has been the target of intense media criticism almost from the day he arrived and matters haven't been helped by the run-ins he has had with them. The serious lack of cricket has also not helped Lawson settle down and gel a team together: Pakistan haven't played a single Test this year and most of their ODIs have been against minnows such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. If Lawson does go in April, he will have effectively been judged over only eight Test matches.
There appears little chance for him to impress until then either. Pakistan have only a three-match ODI series against West Indies and a Test series against India at home between now and April. Butt explained the decision to keep him until then was purely a financial one.
"We will suffer a huge financial loss if we terminate his contract now. Since we cannot afford a heavy loss, we will continue with him," he said.
The Pakistan daily Jang reported that the PCB pays Lawson a monthly salary of US$30,000 and in case it terminates the contract, the board has to pay him a salary for three months.
However, the change that many other people have also called for doesn't appear to be as forthcoming. Shoaib Malik, Pakistan's captain, has been given guarded support by Butt, at least until December this year, according to his original appointment.
"Malik was appointed for one year, but his performance will be reviewed after his contract ends in December," Butt said. The chairman said that appointing a young captain over senior players was not a novel idea and most teams with young captains had done well.
"Look at Australia and South Africa, they have relatively young captains despite some seniors in their squads, but they are doing well. For me there's no senior or junior, it's the performance that counts," he said.
Since Butt took over on October 7, a number of senior officials in the board and team management have either resigned or been forced out.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?