Malik was 'a loner and aloof', says coach's report
In a surprisingly frank assessment of Shoaib Malik's captaincy, the Pakistan team management concluded that he was "a loner" and "aloof" and unable to forge meaningful communication with his team, before deciding to replace him as captain with Younis Khan.
In a report to the PCB following the ODI series loss to Sri Lanka last month, coach Initkhab Alam and manager Yawar Saeed spared little in their assessment of the team's problems, calling for Younis to replace Malik before the Test series against Sri Lanka. Subsequent to the report - which was revealed to the senate standing committee on sports on Monday - Malik was removed as captain and replaced by Younis.
"We found him to be a loner, aloof and involved in his own little world, which is OK, but not when the team required a fully committed captain," the report said. Intikhab and Saeed also found that members of the Pakistan team were not comfortable with Malik's leadership. "We do not see any meaningful communication between players and captain other than his [Malik's] five-minute talk during the team meeting. We have also not noticed him spending quality time with his players, which a successful captain must.
"To be honest, it is very evident that the team is not looking up to their captain. We believe that this team ... needs a new leader. Looking around the team and beyond, in our humble opinion, the name of Younis Khan comes to mind."
Intikhab was present at the senate hearing and expanded on his belief in front of the senators. "I could see tension among the players [when I became coach] and some senior players were not speaking to each other," he said. "I have nothing against Malik but we thought he lacked a little in leading Pakistan. We observed that he is a loner, not mixing with players. It was unanimously decided that he should play just as a player."
Sitting throughout listening was Malik himself and when given the chance to respond, he maintained a diplomatic calm. The coach's thoughts, he said, were his own, but he had decided to step down after the loss to Sri Lanka. "After that match I realised it and I called the chairman and told him about my thoughts. I am one of the most flexible players in the Pakistan side and have batted everywhere. I want to get better as a player now."
Malik went on to try and dissect the 234-run ODI loss at Lahore - Pakistan's worst in terms of runs - and one of the main points on the committee's day-long agenda. He seemed to do a better job of explaining himself and the loss to the senators than did some PCB officials in defending their work. But he didn't touch upon some of the other findings of the report, which included looking for a wicketkeeper to replace the under-performing Kamran Akmal and finding a way back into ODIs for Danish Kaneria.
"We have observed that we need to look very seriously at another wicket keeper (sic)," the report found. "No doubt that Kamran Akmal has done a very good job as a keeper and a batsman but we feel that at times his keeping is not up to the mark. He has been dropping crucial catches and stumpings which creates problems for the team."
The chairman of selectors, Abdul Qadir, was also present and spoke briefly about his plans to improve the status quo. Though he mostly concentrated on the back-up talent he was trying to prepare, and the competition he was trying to create within the squad, his most contentious remark was also his least-noted: in apparently seems questioning the players' motives, he said, "I have seen maybe that players are concentrating more on money than playing for Pakistan."
Unsurprisingly, on a day of such revelations, his opinion went by almost unnoticed.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo