PAKISTAN made a clean sweep of both the Test and the One-day internationals against Zimbabwe and the margins were emphatic. This should put the team in the right frame of mind for the sterner Tests ahead. But in every department, Pakistan showed discipline, the most heartening being fielding. Zimbabwe provided only modest opposition but this should not detract from Pakistan's performance.

There could have been the temptation to get complacent or treat some of the matches as picnic-outings. But the temptation was resisted. Pakistan will need this same positive attitude in South Africa.

The inclusion of Abdul Razzaq will strengthen the team further though it will be a hard choice between Kamran Akmal and Rashid Latif. Kamran Akmal did not do anything wrong behind the stumps and he is a useful batsman. Rashid Latif is the more experienced. It's good to know that we have a choice.

The batsmen are in form and it was good to see Saleem Elahi make back to back centuries and Faisal Iqbal seize the first chance he got and make a hundred. Inzamamul Haq did not get too many chances to bat but he seems to be in good nick though he's been out to careless shots and he needs to watch this. Yusuf Youhana is in devastating form and the lay-off seems to have done him good. He's not giving his wicket away after doing all the hard work.

The bowling is sharp and I was glad to see Mohammad Zahid back in action. He was understandably nervous but he should enjoy bowling on the bouncier tracks of South Africa. He could profit from some sessions with a bowling coach but in the absence of one, there seems to be no reason why someone like Wasim Akram can't take him in hand and get him to pitch the ball in the right spot more consistently. He is a natural fast bowler in the Glenn McGrath mould and he needs to aim for the same metronomic accuracy. He should try for line and length with pace as a bonus. The point is that we should persevere with him.

Shoaib Akhtar is skating on thin ice. He was reprimanded for scratching the ball by the match-referee, Clive Lloyd, and has been fined and given an one-match suspension for making gestures to the crowd and throwing a bottle into the stands. One expects a fast bowler to be aggressive and be a bit of a 'character'. But he's got to learn how to handle his celebrity.

The fact that he is one of the fastest bowlers in the game does not provide him with a licence to behave like a spoilt brat. He is one of our most valuable players but we need him to be focused. He needs to be told in no uncertain terms that he is a cog in a wheel, not the wheel. As I wrote earlier, he is going to be watched very carefully and what was sauce for the goose in Zimbabwe will not be sauce for the gander in South Africa and in the World Cup.

He is going to be one of our key players. He needs to be mindful of this. Besides, this tomfoolery is not doing his bowling any good. I heard Jeff Thompson refer to himself as a "quiet assassin", when he was asked whether he used to sledge or stare down at batsmen. And he was quicker than Shoaib Akhtar and an Australian to boot.

The main interest on the third day of the Perth Test match was whether Australia could wrap it up and this Australia duly did, a classical clinical job against hapless England. There was an object lesson for other captains for the way that Steve Waugh came up the game-plan.

Turning his fast bowlers loose from one end and using Shane Warne to bottle up the other end. It was a simple game-plan. The Ashes have been retained. There was never any doubt about this. But there is even greater pressure on England. The prospect of whitewash is looming. And the knives are out for Nasser Hussain.

There was a time when Nasser could do nothing wrong. Now he seems to do nothing right. Messrs Botham, Gower, Allott and Bob Willis, the television commentators, seemed to be operating with a script. When he gave the new ball to Silverwood rather than Harmison, they went on and on that Nasser had sinned gravely. Thereafter, his every field placing was criticised. That, I suppose, is the price one has to pay to be a losing captain.

Wisdom comes from hindsight. When these gentlemen were themselves captaining England or playing, surely they made mistakes. It is when these players have retired and become TV experts, that they become infallible. Nasser is doing the best he can. He can hardly be held responsible if player after player gets unfit. We need to bring some perspective into criticism.

But the most important fact is that Australia is the better team. There is nothing Nasser can do about it. There's no point in whining and looking for scapegoats. The Australians are on a roll. Pakistan know exactly what England must be feeling. We've been there but we did not panic. That's what England have to do, grin and bear it and wait for another time.