DateLine: 31st May 2010
Speaking to PakPassion.net, former Pakistani pacer Mohammad Akram spoke of the ongoing troubles encompassing Pakistan cricket and how to solve the unsolvable.
The 2010 edition of the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies brought some breathtaking moments for the Pakistan team and its millions of fans. The end however, was a tad bitter and disappointing, but the topic had to be touched. In a style typical of the man, Mohammad Akram was straightforward when he said, "Personally, I didnít think that they are going to make it to the semi finals "we were very lucky to be there."
Mohammad Akram presented PakPassion.net with a few reasons for the undoing of the team in the semis. "Basically I feel there were 4-5 top class players missing from this team when they left Pakistan." Adding on to his reasoning Mohammad Akram explained, "I feel that if any other captain was leading there - it was a straightforward game." The former pacer provided the logic behind his point by stating, "If I was skipper, I would have bowled Ajmal as well BUT I believe there was a strong, gusty wind that day, and Ajmal should have been bowling from the other end." A view Saeed Ajmal himself declared to PakPassion.net after the conclusion of Pakistan's World Cup campaign. It seems Shahid Afridi forgot to take the weather conditions into consideration at that crucial juncture of the match.
Selection problems were pinpointed by Akram when asked if he would have selected Sami or Asif for the semi-final clash with Australia. "I would have gone with Sami again - I felt Asif was below-par though" he claimed. Certainly, a pace bowler was missing during the death overs, and it just might have been the reason for Pakistanís eventual defeat at the hands of the Australians.
When asked about Pakistan and their perpetual captaincy issues, he presented an interesting viewpoint. "They need to stick with someone younger, like Shoaib Malik, and give him 4-5 series" he stated. The argument for youth had been brought back to the forefront by Mohammad Akram. He went even further with his explanations, "When Malik learned the tactics, they changed him, which was the biggest mistake." When asked who he would back from the current youngsters as captain, Akram stated, "I think Salman Butt is a good choice and they can invest in him for the future." However, it was not the strongest of nominations, Salmanís was just a name thrown out there by Mohammad Akram as he quickly added, "Unfortunately, right now you canít really pick one, but you have to invest in someone - you have to take a chance."
The question of dual captaincy also arose and Mohammad Akram quickly downplayed it as a viable option. "Itís always difficult to have two captains; you can never get that combination right." In a cricketing country constantly plagued with leadership problems and uncertainty, dual captaincy expeditions in Pakistan cricket are non-existent, and this hesitancy was sensed in his words. The perplexing aspect of Pakistan cricket for Akram was not the dual captaincy, but the discontinuity in the nationís cricketing system. "If you look at the PCB, the chairman, the selectors and at the players, there is no continuity" he exclaimed. The amount of chopping and changing has certainly been mind boggling and these sorts of problems have been rampant in Pakistan cricket for many years now. However, the current coaching staff received the complete backing from Mohammad Akram. "Ijaz Ahmed and Waqar Younis are good coaches " he proclaimed.
The final topic of conversation surrounded the matter of the well-publicised grouping and infighting within the team. "I think any team you play for, there will be differences in the team" he pointed out, banking on experience gained many years in first class cricket and international cricket. What displeased Mohammad Akram the most was the role of the manager (Yawar Saeed) in this controversial drama. There was a sense of frustration when he stated, "You need a good manager who can manage every player separately. We have never chosen a manager who is capable of doing a good job" a clear hint at the lack of professionalism in selecting individuals for such vital positions. He went on to say "We always bring someone on a political basis; we need someone young." The point was further proved when Yawar Saeed was hired once again for the upcoming tours (Asia Cup and England). "The manager is not there to just look good; they have a job to do and they should deal with these problems."
Akram also had some stern words to say about how the PCB handled the player indiscipline situation. "I felt that the PCB should have been more open regarding the player punishments. They should have released the full report and all the witness statements. There should have been no trying to brush it under the carpet". Certainly, the way PCB have handled this whole issue has produced more questions than answers.
The frustration trickled over into questioning of the senior players from past and present. "These things happen when you have two or three old players trying to survive" Akram claimed. "If you look at our history, almost all of the captains have been unceremoniously kicked out, not retired." The reluctance to leave, until they are forced out, has plagued numerous Pakistani cricketers, resulting in tarnished reputations, and a hidden bitterness towards the PCB. The concern for youngsters was clearly evident in his final words, "Youngsters need to be educated that only performances can keep you there, not senior players."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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