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Sunday, December 12, 2010

One-man show is destroying Pakistan cricket: Latif

Dubai: Former Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper Rashid Latif is someone who calls a spade a spade. His role as match-fixing whistleblower put him through many a difficulty but he refused to be cowed down and highlighted the dangers lurking around cricketers representing Pakistan.
Today, as coach of the Afghanistan national team, he remains as blunt with his views as he was as a player.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Latif, after guiding Afghanistan to victory in the Intercontinental Cup, spoke about the future of Afghanistan in the game and what ails Pakistan cricket. Excerpts:
 GULF NEWSHow do you feel about coaching Afghanistan to victory in the Intercontinental Cup?
RASHID LATIF: It is a big achievement because we have won it in our first appearance in this tournament. It is also a big occasion for me as a coach because we have won a longer-version tournament.
Most people had this feeling that Afghanistan is good only in T20 and One-day cricket but we have proved that we can do well in the longer version of the game too.
 Afghanistan arrived here after playing in the Twenty20 format at the Asian Games. How did your team quickly manage to adapt to the longer version?
It is thanks to the Sharjah Cricket Council who gave us their ground to spend from 9am to 5pm every day to adapt to the four-day conditions that our bowlers and batsmen sharpened their skills in the longer version. We bowled 90 overs a day and I made sure that every batsman got to bat at least 20 overs every day. My players are also very professional and they adapted very quickly.
 Do you see some of the qualities of Pakistan players in Afghanistan players too?
A few Afghanistan players have played in Pakistan for teams like Peshawar. Hamid Hassan our main bowler can be compared to Waqar Younus and Wasim Akram because he can bowl nearly 22 overs at a stretch. I have never seen any bowler in recent years who has that kind of stamina. In two to three years, Afghanistan will play Test cricket.
 As a former Pakistan player why do you think more and more Pakistan players are getting mired in match-fixing scandals?
This is not the first time Pakistan players are being named for match-fixing. In 1994, 1996 and 1998 so many players were named in match-fixing cases and inquiries were initiated against them.
The biggest drawback of the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) is its inaction.
 So do you mean that players must be made conscious about their future in the game?
The selection process itself is not based on 100 per cent merit right now especially under the present cricket board led by Ejaz Butt. So many good players have been dropped.
There is huge uncertainty among the players. This is also the main reason behind so many controversies and incidents during Butt's tenure. However, I still believe that Pakistan has lots of talent and if we can use our 12 cricket academies properly and give opportunities to players on merit then we can find many good players like [Mohammad] Amir.
 So what's ahead for Afghanistan now?
We have some warm-up match against the qualifiers for the World Cup and we are preparing for the T20 World Cup qualifiers and by May the Intercontinental Cup will begin.
I have suggested to the Afghanistan Cricket Board to arrange some series against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe after the World Cup but they have to spend some money to improve their cricket. Unfortunately, Afghanistan Cricket Board is also looking for ICC and ACC to provide the facilities
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