Pakistan news July 18, 2014

Flower aims to optimise Pakistan's batting talent

Grant Flower, Pakistan's new batting coach, has said his aim is to bring about a significant change in Pakistan's approach to batting and help talented batsmen deliver more consistently, or else he "wouldn't have traveled that far". The former Zimbabwe batsman began his new role at the conditioning camp at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, ahead of the short tour of Sri Lanka in August.

Flower, 43, was Zimbabwe's batting coach for over three years starting October 2010. He said the challenge of adjusting to a different system in Pakistan, with its diverse culture and mindset, drew him to the job.

"The challenge of being in a different place brought me here," Flower said at his first media interaction since arriving in the country. "I have given a lot to Zimbabwe cricket but I think it's time to move on, develop my own coaching career and evolve as person.

"I like to (bring a significant change) in Pakistan's batting otherwise I would not have come here. We all know how talented the players are and I rate them high. But maybe sometimes they don't get the most out of their talent and I am here to coach them."

In recent years the team has been let down by batting collapses. However, there have been exceptions, such as the Sharjah Test in January against Sri Lanka where they pulled off an astonishing chase, knocking off 302 runs within 58 overs on the last day to level the three-match series. Despite turning to former players including Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad and Zaheer Abbas as coaches, the performances have been inconsistent.

Flower understands the challenges ahead of him, one of which is fine-tuning the batsmen's skills without compromising on their natural game.

"The team has a very good blend of experience with the senior batsmen and then there are some talented players coming through. But obviously I will have to treat each individual differently and this is what I am learning. I do know some of the players and their constraints as well and the areas where I need to work on.

"One of the best things about Pakistan's batting is their flair and I never want to take it out from any of them. So, maybe it's just about fine-tuning and getting them to play with more consistency but I've still got to learn more about the players and their games."

The trend of appointing foreign coaches in Pakistan has always attracted criticism from former cricketers and when asked if this could distract him he said, "Definitely I've also got a lot of respect for the big names in the country as they have done so much for Pakistan cricket. I will be lying if I say I won't be under pressure but it's part of the job which you get paid for and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

When informed about Miandad's views that national players do not need coaching, Flower said: "Everyone has their opinions and the right to disagree but players are improving all the time. If you take players like [Mahela] Jayawardene, I am sure even they speak to the best players to know about their game. But it's about fine turning at the top as a lot of players have been around for a long time. Either it's a mental thing or even a tiny little technical thing - we all improve with time."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

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