There was never really any doubt that Waqar Younis would lead Pakistan in the World Cup. There was a lot of kite-flying and because the PCB maintained a silence , this kite-flying acquired a measure of credibility.

It has been the PCB's policy to appoint a captain on a series basis. It has adhered to this policy.

It makes sense since form and fitness are of paramount importance and Waqar is no spring-chicken and is a high-risk when it comes to injuries. He is not alone in this as younger fast bowlers are falling by the wayside and are being patched-up and sent into battle.

India rested Zaheer Khan in the one-day series against the West Indies, Mervyn Dillon pulled out of the tour of Bangladesh, Chris Cairns is still not fit to bowl, England seem to lose a fast bowler per match Allan Donald is being kept wrapped in cotton-wool and Zimbabwe had all its pace attack unfit, Muttiah Muralitharan is recovering from a hernia operation and Shane Warne has done his shoulder and is doubtful for the World Cup and our own Shoaib Akhtar has returned home to nurse a gammy knee.

The PCB chairman has now confirmed Waqar as captain and hopefully the only kite-flying that will be done will be during the forthcoming basant.

I think that Waqar will be the first to admit that he is no Imran Khan, Imran had the special gift of getting the best out of his players, even those he may not have personally liked. Like all humans, he had his likes and dislikes. He never allowed this to influence the way he handled the team.

Waqar has never concealed that he is uneasy with Wasim Akram in the team. That, at least, is the perception and the selection of the playing eleven on tour has been whimsical. But he has done the job and led from the front and picked up wickets and given Pakistan the breakthrough. He has even started to make a few runs. The PCB has reposed confidence in him. This should cheer him up.

The team management had asked for Saeed Anwar for the Test matches and the selection committee has sensibly refused to panic. Saeed should have been on the South Africa tour from the onset. There is no doubt that he was short of match-practice. But he is a near-certainty for the World Cup and he needs to get into the groove by playing domestic cricket. Pakistan will need his experience in the World Cup. He has time enough to get in the right frame of mind.

We knew that the tour of South Africa would be a hard one but the margin of 4-1 is not a proper reflection of the difference between the two teams. Pakistan bowlers did everything asked of them but the batting seems to show no sign of the toughness that is required against quality opponents. The running between wickets left much to be desired, a sign that reflects not enough homework is being done on this vital aspect of the game.

Running between the wickets is about judgement but it is also about communicating with one's partner. There are only three calls, yes, no or wait. Simple words that do not put any stress on the mind and are unambiguous, not subject to interpretation, nor a basis for negotiation.

While we are focused on the World Cup, a Test match comes around that is far more gripping than anything that the one-day version can dish out. Such a Test match was the one that was played at Hamilton between India and New Zealand.

New Zealand won it in a tight finish. The first day's play was washed out. But two days and a session were enough to get a decision. The wicket was certainly lively and the ball seamed but it was certainly not dangerous. Far too much was being read into it, the fault lay not in the wicket but in the lack of technique that was needed to cope with the moving ball. Far too used to batting-friendly pitches, this one had some juice. It was a low-scoring match, too much for batsmen of either team.

In the days when wickets were not covered and we would get 'sticky dogs' there were batsmen who had developed special skills to play on them. I would like to see more pitches like the one at Hamilton. Batsmen have it far too good. They have all the protective gear while the fast bowlers can bowl no more than two bouncers per over.

New Zealand were without Cairns. He is expected to play as a batsman in the one-day series. But probably will be fully fit for the World Cup. With the West Indies beginning to re-group. New Zealand the West Indies are two 'outsiders' that look most threatening for the World Cup.

The West Indies will have Carl Hooper and Dillon back but there seems to be no news about Brian Lara, beyond, that he is unfit. But no progress report has been forthcoming. But not just the West Indies but cricket needs Brian Lara, still a prince among batsmen. But in Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels, they have two batsmen in the mould of Rohan Kanhai and that is high praise.