'No chance of factionalism in team' - PCB chairman
Ijaz Butt, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, does not agree with many former Pakistan players that the team's Test series defeat against Sri Lanka was caused by poor team spirit and an inability to cooperate with the captain, Younis Khan. Butt said it was too early to think of a change of captaincy, given that Younis took over a few months ago.
"There can be no chance of factionalism in the team as I believe Younis has good relations with seniors like Misbah-ul-Haq and others," Butt said in Lahore. "It is not a joke to change the captain again and again."
Three batting collapses over the two Tests contributed to Pakistan's series defeat. In the first Test in Galle, Pakistan needed 97 to win with eight wickets in hand on the fourth day, only to lose by 50 runs. In the second match at the P Sara Oval in Colombo, they crashed to 90 all out after opting to bat first. After a commendable recovery in the second innings, the batting crumbled again as Pakistan lost their last nine wickets for 35 runs to be dismissed for 320, thereby setting Sri Lanka a less than challenging target of 171 in the fourth innings.
Former players, ranging from Abdul Qadir to Inzamam-ul-Haq, have blamed factionalism for the defeat. Qadir said the fault lay with the players for not cooperating with Younis.
"When I resigned as chief selector, I am on record as saying that Shoaib Malik should be punished for letting captain Younis Khan down and I maintain that there is factionalism in the team," Qadir told AFP. "What I said was on the basis of what I saw during the series against Australia in UAE two months ago and I said that seniors were not co-operating with Younis.
"I said this before and I reiterate that the coach and manager's reports of this Sri Lanka tour should be made public. Had the UAE series report been made public, things would have been sorted out by now."
His opinions were echoed by Inzamam, the former captain. "The situation in the team is not good," Inzamam said. "I can smell factionalism within the team and Younis is not doing his best to keep the team united, and that does not augur well for our cricket."
Former fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz, often an outspoken critic of Pakistan cricket, said the former captain Shoaib Malik should take responsibility. He also slammed Younis, despite Pakistan winning the ICC World Twenty20 in England under his captaincy less than a month ago. Younis said after the defeat that Pakistan had been caught short due to the lack of exposure to Tests over the last two years.
"Malik, along with four senior players, is doing politics," Nawaz said. "Misbah-ul-Haq should be excluded from the team as he has failed and should be replaced by new players.
"Younis doesn't have leadership qualities," Nawaz said. "If a captain is not able to handle his players' batting failures and comes out with lame excuses of playing less Test cricket, he doesn't have the qualities of a good captain."