Speculation over Intikhab future intensifies
A day after it was announced that Intikhab Alam will not be accompanying the Pakistan side that takes on England in two Twenty20 internationals in Dubai, speculation over the fate of the coach intensifies.
The PCB is refusing to say that Intikhab's tenure has come to an end after Pakistan's disastrous tour of Australia, where they failed to win a single game, but Ijaz Ahmed - the Under-19 coach - will be with the senior side in Dubai as a batting and fielding coach. The contribution of Intikhab, appointed in October 2008 to replace Geoff Lawson, in the Australian whitewash has come in for much criticism and increasingly it looks as if his time has come.
Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, who himself has been under fire from many quarters, admitted in a recent TV interview that the board was looking abroad for coaching options - a startling revelation in itself, given that Intikhab's services have not officially been terminated. And now, at least one report says that Greg Chappell, Australian great and former coach of India, is being lined up as a replacement.
Senior officials - other than Butt - are more tight-lipped about Intikhab's future, under whom Pakistan have won the World Twenty20, but not a single ODI or Test series. "One of the considerations to look at will be this after the evaluation committee has done its work," Wasim Bari, PCB's chief operating officer, told Cricinfo. Bari heads, in effect, a six-man inquiry committee tasked to look into and analyse the reasons for Pakistan's defeats. Wasim Akram is also a member of the committee.
"We will look at how to solve weak areas in our cricket, but with relevant cricket and business solutions," Bari said. "If there is a leadership problem, we will provide a leadership solution. If there is a coaching problem, we will provide a coaching solution."
Bari waved aside reports about Chappell, though he did leave open the possibility that Pakistan may look abroad again, having decided after sacking Lawson that they would go local. "The coach, whoever he is, should be the best man for the job," Bari said. "It doesn't matter whether he is Pakistani or from abroad. We might be looking at ten names for the job but if Intikhab is the best man for it we will keep him. It has to be the best man."
Cricinfo understands that nothing formal has yet occurred between the PCB and Chappell. Should the position become vacant, others in the running for the post are likely to also include the current assistant coach Aaqib Javed and Ijaz.
Lawson, despite the experience which saw him being removed 16 months ago, is still a keen Pakistan supporter and follower and embraced the country in his time here. It is believed he would still be keen for the post, though it is difficult to see it happen under the administration that sacked him. Julien Fountain has already expressed his willingness to work with Pakistan as a fielding coach - and other, broader roles.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo