MUHAMMAD Ali (as Cassius Clay) taunted Sonny Liston mercilessly, "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee" was the least offensive of his taunts. But he won, he knocked out Liston.

In the context of the quite extraordinary taunting of the Waugh brothers by Richard Pybus, Pybus was not Muhammad Ali. He was Liston.

Steve Waugh had the last laugh and one hopes that the Pakistan team coach will take Allan Border's advice and "shut up."

In fact, rather than be chastened by the humiliating defeat in the second Test match, there has been a spate of statements by the team management, which have only served to irritate the cricket public in Pakistan. The need of the hour was to re-group and to do so with humility and in silence.

The PCB should have issued a 'gag' order. For a team whose sole objective should have been to avoid a whitewash, silence should have been the highest virtue, to say nothing of being the best strategy.

Waqar Younis should be given a medal for gallantry. Pakistan went into the third Test match with only four bowlers and in the circumstances, did a creditable job by confining Australia to only 444!

Shahid Afridi was flown out as a replacement for Abdur Razzaq but was not played. Afridi is an all-rounder and would have given the team a bowling option, more so since Shoaib Akhtar pulled out, reportedly, because of a niggle or a back-strain. The team management is on the spot and knows best.

From the distance of Karachi, it seemed to me that Pakistan had opted for an unbalanced team. In Australia's innings, Saqlain Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria bowled 45 and 36 overs respectively in that searing heat. If there was something 'personal' against Afridi, there was the option of Mohammad Zahid who has been with the team and by now must have had his fill of sight-seeing.

I believe that sports should be kept out of politics. Horrendous as the bombing of a nightclub in Bali may have been, and it has been condemned by the Pakistan government, I think a Test match seemed an inappropriate occasion to express one's grief.

Many Australians died in the Bali bombing and if the Australian players wanted to honour those that had died, they were entitled to wear black arm-bands and fly their flag at half-mast. But why should the Pakistan players have worn black arm-bands and the Pakistan flag at the ground lowered to half-mast?

I am against terrorism but all kinds of terrorism including that of Ariel Sharon against the people of Palestine. I consider the killing of innocent men, women and children to be repugnant. But that includes the men, women and children in Palestine and Afghanistan. Why no black arm-bands for them? All things considered, it might have been better to have kept our grief private and not turned it into public sorrow.

I write this at close of play on the third day of the Test match with an innings defeat staring Pakistan in the face. The last two matches have been nightmares for Pakistan and with the end of the series in sight, Pakistan should look to erase the memory of this series except for some positives. Pakistan is richer by two quality batsmen, Faisal Iqbal and Hasan Raza.

Hasan first played for Pakistan in 1996, and then like so many other young players, he was cast adrift and but for his own tenacity, he would have been out of the mainstream. His selection for this tour came about because senior players were either not available or were injured. That he played in the third Test match was because Razzaq was unfit. Hasan was not deemed good enough for the first two Test matches. He got his chance and he grabbed it with both hands. In both the innings, he batted with grit and determination, put a very high price on his wicket and was certainly not willing to give it away. He is one batsman who can hold his head high. Before he left for Colombo, he came to see me.

I had written about how we had squandered a talent like his and had we kept faith with him when he first played Test cricket, we would have had an established middle-order batsman by now. I wished him the best of luck and told him to focus on his cricket and when his chance came, to seize the day. I hope that he will play for Pakistan for a long time and will not become a victim, yet again, of whimsical selection.

I don't think that young players should be too discouraged. The secret of success is to learn from one's mistakes. Cricket is an unforgiving game. It wasn't going to be easy for them against Australia.

The Australians are the best team in the world because they work really hard at being the best. There is no other way. That's what is lacking in our team - hard work, application, more perspiration and less reliance on inspiration. Ask Hasan Raza!