Gul ready to lead Pakistan attack
Umar Gul, the Pakistan fast bowler, has said he is confident of being able to lead Pakistan's bowling attack in the absence of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, both of whom have been banned from the game for at least five years for spot-fixing.
"I can handle the responsibility of leading the bowling attack for Pakistan and won't succumb to the pressure that comes with this added responsibility," Gul told Pakpassion.net. "I feel I have performed well for Pakistan over the years and will continue to do so."
Gul made his debut 2003 at the age of 19 and has become a fixture in all three formats, though his Twenty20 and one-day records are currently superior to his Test record, something he hopes to correct in the future. "In twenty-over cricket the bowlers have more energy, the batsmen take more risks and therefore it's easier to take wickets," Gul said. "Yes, no doubt in the past three or four years I've bowled well in the shorter formats of the game, but I enjoy Test cricket and it's only in the last 18 months that I haven't had great results in Test cricket.
"I'm working hard to improve my Test record and I am confident that I will succeed in that format also."
In the game's shortest version, Gul has taken 47 wickets from 34 T20Is at an average of 16.00 and an economy rate of 6.47, and credits the ability to think on his feet and adapt to changing circumstances for his success. It also helps to be able to mix it up as a bowler. "Variation also plays a major role in a bowler's armoury. You have to be able to bowl a good yorker and have the ability to mix up your pace, without the batsmen reading you. The variations are key, but it's also important that you use these varieties at the right time."
When asked about Pakistan's World Cup semi-final loss to India, a game in which Gul gave away 69 runs in eight overs, he said the pressure on Pakistan was immense and it was simply not his day. "The pressure on Pakistan was not the pressure of performing well or losing, rather it was the pressure of the mounting expectations from fans all over the world. In addition, there was a break of several days between the quarter-final and the semi-final and rather than just getting on to do the business of playing the match, we had to wait around for a few days before the match.
"That meant that the hype surrounding the match just grew and grew. Also the Indian side saw me as one of the key players in the Pakistan side and targeted my bowling that day. They were successful in their approach and unfortunately it wasn't my day."
Gul is currently playing for Sussex in the Friends Life t20 tournament and is relishing the experience, saying his stint there is important in his overall development as a cricketer. "The management team and the players are very good, there is a very professional and positive approach and there is no such thing as a blame culture. It doesn't matter if you have a good game or not, everyone backs each other and there is no criticism."
A number of other Pakistan internationals, including his former captain Shahid Afridi, are also competing in the same tournament, and Gul said he is enjoying going up against them. "We all know each others' strengths and weaknesses and I'm sure it makes for interesting viewing."