Geoff Lawson has been given a two-year contract by the Pakistan board
It was Geoff Lawson's fast-bowling background that won him the coaching job for the Pakistan team, the Pakistan Cricket Board revealed while formally announcing the decision at a press conference in Karachi.
Lawson's appointment ended a lengthy wait without a coach since the death of Bob Woolmer during the World Cup. Lawson, the former Australia fast bowler, has been appointed for two years and edged out compatriots Dav Whatmore and Richard Done in the race for the job.
"Pakistan has many pace bowlers and we win matches with them," Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, said. "Having a former fast bowler on board is an advantage for that definitely.
"We weighed all our options and, though all three were highly qualified, we felt Lawson was most suitable to our needs. Dav Whatmore and Richard Done were not any less candidates, just that Lawson was what we needed."
Ashraf dismissed claims that Arjuna Ranatunga's comments regarding Whatmore played a part in the decision, or that the players, many of whom were in favour of Lawson, had exercised their influence unduly.
Ashraf described Lawson, who picked up 180 wickets in 46 Tests, as "a very educated man" and said the PCB liked "his approach and his attention to detail and so we opted for him".
Lawson, a level three coach, will arrive in Pakistan on August 15 and is expected to be on a similar financial package as Woolmer. He is likely to bring his own management support team with him and Ashraf said Pakistan might appoint a specialist batting coach, given their brittleness in that department. "We will definitely have a fielding coach and we want world-class trainers and physiotherapists as well," he said. "We want to have a streamlined management team and Lawson has his ideas on that."
Lawson told Cricinfo the prospect of bringing out the best talent in Pakistan lured him to the job. "It is such a talented team that you have to be excited working with them," he said. "A series of events essentially led me to the job. Two months ago, this was a long way from my mind. I got a call asking whether I would be interested and I waited on the findings of the Bob Woolmer case because that was important.
"I came over and met with the board and the players and I have to say I was very impressed with the set-up, their ideas and vision. The chief [chairman Nasim Ashraf] was very impressive."
This will be Lawson's first international assignment though he has been head coach with New South Wales and is currently involved officially with the state. But his state experience and his media work, he says, will help him adjust.
"It's a different level, no doubt," he said. "But I've worked with high-performance players at NSW. Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark are sort of my pupils and I've worked with Glenn McGrath as well, so I have that experience. Also my media work has taken me round the world as an analyst so I haven't been too far from the game ever."
History will judge my move here but I hope, ultimately, that Pakistan will remember me as one of the best coaches they ever had
Lawson is also a rarity in that he is an ex-fast bowler, a breed not renowned much for their coaching abilities. Pakistan, with an abundance of fast bowling talent, is a fitting first job. "They have some terrific talent. Shoaib [Akhtar] - we have to make sure he is fit and consistent. Rao Iftikhar, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif - these guys make up a quality pace attack. And there's more beyond them, big guys who bowl fast. Quality fast bowlers basically help you win Tests and I am excited about working with them."
Pakistan have busy times ahead, the Twenty20 World Championship is a precursor to an international season that includes visits by South Africa and Australia with a tour to India sandwiched in between for good measure. "We hit the ground running really, as there are some big series coming up. I know what I want to do with the team and where we should go. History will judge my move here but I hope, ultimately, that Pakistan will remember me as one of the best coaches they ever had."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo