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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Gul and Wahab Got Their Tactics Wrong" : Mohammed Zahid

In the latest instalment of his blog at, Mohammed Zahid speaks of his disappointment with the defeat at the hands of the West Indies and offers his analysis on what went wrong and his predictions for the final test.


Main reason for Loss:

First of all I must say I was really disappointed with this loss, as always my sympathies are with the Pakistan team.

I feel that the West Indies, as a team, are undergoing a learning experience. Even though their performance was not particularly top-class, they played better as a unit. In contrast, our big players could not perform - it was only Asad and Misbah who showed some quality, along with Saeed Ajmal. We lack a finisher, someone who can build an innings and then finish the game for us. Clearly, we lack that player. Be it in bowling or batting, we are missing that one special player.

Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz’s performance:

With Umar Gul, it could have been a lack of form and rhythm, but there are no excuses at this level. As for Wahab, I think he needs to understand his limitations. Wahab perhaps sees himself as an express bowler like Shoaib Akhtar or Waqar Younis. He can perhaps bowl 4-5 deliveries at 90 miles per hour, but this pitch did not require that. If you even bowled at 78 miles per hour and bowled a good line and length, and bowled on the spot, you would have been successful. A major reason for the failure of both bowlers was that they kept trying to bowl too fast. Darren Sammy was bowling 78 mph but his line and length was good and he bowled wicket to wicket. In short, both Gul and Wahab got their tactics wrong.

Strategy for the Guyana pitch:

Depends on the bowler, like I said you must know your limitations. If someone like Shoaib Akhtar is in my team and I am the skipper, I would tell him to bowl as he likes. Bowlers like Waqar Younis or Brett Lee, I would instruct them to go flat out. But they also know their limits. Gul and Wahab are not express bowlers; they bowl at 85-87 mph and can occasionally touch 90 miles per hour. They should have concentrated on their basics, line and length, and not their speed. Wahab Riaz may not be experienced enough, that is fair enough but such a senior bowler like Waqar Younis should have been able to guide him to bowl in an effective manner.

Role of Coaching Staff:

Both [Waqar and Aqib] were great bowlers in their times, but I really do not understand why the fast bowlers under their guidance, did not bowl as per the requirement. However, at the end of the day, the player is the one that has to deliver. One cannot lay the blame on the coaches alone. Coaches can only instruct you so much.

Another problem is the lack of 2 good, proper openers. Hafeez is playing because he can bowl a few good overs and give you 30-40 runs. He’s not an opener. They have been trying to find the right openers for 7-10 years, but it’s not going to happen. In regards to Taufeeq, we have been trying for a decade but he cannot be an opener. If it does not happen even after 10 years, it is never going to happen.

Younis Khan’s Absence, No Recall for Mohammed Yousuf:

I am not surprised at all. Yousuf has one more year, Younis perhaps one or two more seasons at the most. You will need new players after couple of years. You must take junior players now. I am very sure that there are players in Pakistan domestic cricket who deserve a chance. Taufeeq has been in and out of the team for the past decade, even on his comeback he has not made more than 40-45. I don’t understand why they keep trying the same player. If selectors are not satisfied with these results then they should try a junior player – atleast there is a chance that he will become a quality player after couple of years!

Can Pakistan Level The Series?

I have my doubts. Granted the wicket was very poor, but the West Indies also played on it as well. I was really impressed by Asad Shafiq, he has a lot of determination and temperament, and he will play for a long time and break plenty of records. Saeed Ajmal impressed a lot too, but he is almost 34-35, his career will be over soon too. If we are going to lose, then at least lose with some junior players. They will at least be enthusiastic and will have the hunger to do well.


ICC needs to shun India’s influence says Tony Greig
Former England Captain, Tony Greig, has come out against India’s stronghold over the International Cricket Council.
He was of the view that ICC should be brought back to the right track where they can take the positive decisions towards the solidarity of the game.
India is dominating the International Cricket Council while other members have been sidelined.
"Number one, we have got to try and get the ICC right, we have a situation at the moment where the ICC is dominated by India,” Greig told BBC in an interview.
India’s influence on World Cricket is evident. The Indian players wield a lot of power and so does the BCCI. All major cricketers today wish to play in the Indian Premier League, where they are treated like commodities for sale.
Sharad Pawar took over as ICC’s Chief in July, 2010 and he was in fact, the second Indian to hold that office after Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Speaking further on the topic, the South Africa-born Greig added, "We are playing too much cricket. I would be getting all the countries from the world and saying hey listen, what is this nonsense of giving Indian domestic cricket an open window?”
The Pakistani cricket team is currently visiting West Indies and two crucial West Indian players, Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, are busy playing for the Indian Premier League.
The Lankan, Lasith Malinga, has taken retirement from Test cricket so that he can concentrate more on the shorter version of the game, especially the IPL T20.
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are still playing for the lucrative league while their national team is currently in England for an important series.
Greig believes that this influence that India holds is unhealthy for cricket world over.
He went on to share the fact that he loved playing in India, however, he is against them manipulating the system like they are.
"To this day (Kolkata's) Eden Gardens remains one of my top three grounds, just because of the incredible atmosphere,” said Greig.
He was hopeful that the things will be streamlined and the Indian domination will be over soon.


Former Pakistani cricketers believe it is difficult to eradicate player power

In contrast to the claims of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, Ijaz Butt, many former cricketers in Pakistan believe that eradicating player power from the country’s cricket is easier said than done.
Last week, Butt had claimed to have eradicated player power from Pakistan cricket as he credited the enforcement of strict punishments on players accused of violating rules and regulations of the PCB.
Speaking on the matter, Pakistan’s former batting great Zaheer Abbas said, “It’s a good thing if it has been stamped out. Cricket will flourish if claims made by Ijaz are to be believed. Players have always run after power and it’s been a major issue with Pakistan cricket.”
He further said, “As far as the Chairman’s claim is concerned, something so major can’t be done in a year or two because it’s become a tradition in Pakistan cricket for the last two decades.”
Abbas also added that it was due to player power that no one had ever felt the need to make an association for cricketers.
Meanwhile former PCB official, Mian Munir, placed the blame of player power on Pakistan’s 1992 triumphant world cup skipper Imran Khan. According to Munir it was Imran who first injected the doctrine of player power in the country’s cricket.
He also doubted the possibility of eliminating player power from Pakistan cricket but insisted that if it really had been done then the PCB should make sure that the menace doesn’t creep back-in in the future.
He blamed player power for the inconsistency in team selection which has plagued Pakistan cricket for decades.
The claims of the PCB chairman are hard to swallow since Pakistan cricket is again entangled in a feud between the coach and captain of the national team.
According to news reports, the limited overs captain, Shahid Afridi, is at odds with the head coach and former pacer, Waqar Younis, over player selection for the last two matches of the five-match One-Day series in theWest Indies earlier.
After reaching back home at the conclusion of the tournament, Afridi claimed that there was outside interference in the selection of the team.
According to details, after taking the series by winning the first three matches, Afridi wanted to give young players a chance to test their mettle, however, Waqar begged to differ and refused to adhere to Afridi’s request.
This is believed to be the bone of contention between the two and since Waqar is still in the Caribbean, the PCB has delayed any action for now.
The PCB will wait for the detailed report, which will be submitted by the team’s manager, Intikhab Alam.
It was rumoured in the local media that the PCB was considering sidelining Afridi for his outburst in Pakistani media regarding the estranged relation with the national team’s coach.
The PCB seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place and it will be interesting to see how Ijaz Butthandles the situation. 


Sri Lankan Sports Minister seeks cricketing talent in war torn regions

The Sri Lankan sports minister, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, is seeking young cricketing talent in Mullaitivu, a former stronghold of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
A talent identification camp has been set up in the zone that has little to no representation in domestic and national cricket teams of Sri Lanka.
Talking to the media, Mahindananda said, “There are many talented sports persons in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. However, due to the war, these talents could not be discovered and these talented youth could not participate in the national squads.”
Sri Lanka has been witnessing bitter civil war since the 1970s. The two ethnic groups, Sinhalese and Tamils, have been engaged in mutual bloodshed.
In the past, Tamils occupied many key areas and zones of the country. Now, there have been effected a temporary ceasefire. However, the Tamil rebels still want to create a separate homeland.
At the first day of the talent identification camp, almost 1000 persons participated. The minister was there to interact with and know about the aspirant cricketers who may play at domestic and International level.
The Mullaitivu zone is packed with abundant cricket talent. There are many youngsters who have not been able to pursue their academic and professional careers due to the long war but they have the potential and passion to excel in the field of cricket. Now, they want to adopt cricket as a profession.
Mahindananda said, “We will develop sports in these Provinces as well as select more sports persons to the national squads from now on.”
 The world’s top wicket-taker, Muttiah Muralitharan, hails from Mallaithivu.  Having ruled for almost two decades with the ball, the legend has retired from international cricket.
The sports minister has been very active in national cricket management since a month. However, his interference in matters of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has drawn great criticism from different circles of the society.
The board is now thinking to devise some laws that may prevent political meddling in the national cricket affairs. The International Cricket Council (ICC) also plans to formulate such type of a strategy. 

Raza claims innocence, PCB asks for full-scale inquiry

The Pakistan Cricket Board on Tuesday said that Akram Raza's case warranted a full-scale inquiry even as the off-spinner pleaded innocence in the illegal betting case, saying that his arrest was a "set-up".

A senior official said that the board will have to review whether to appoint Raza to the umpires' panel for the forthcoming Pakistan 'A' andAfghanistan series in view of the betting case against him.

Raza, a former off-break bowler who played nine Tests and 49 ODIs, was arrested on Saturday with six others after a police raid on a plaza in Gulberg area for running a betting racket.

Police have charged seven people, including Raza for taking illegal bets on the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.

Raza, who is now a first-class umpire, got bail on Monday but will have to appear before a court next week in connection with the case.

Sultan Rana, who heads the domestic cricket section in the PCB, said that it was too early to say whether Raza was innocent or not.

"Certainly the case warrants an inquiry and we will decide on that soon. It is a serious thing because of the sensitivities involved in fixing issues," he said.

"The board will like to hear both sides of the story and we will give Raza a fair hearing when the inquiry is conducted," he said.

Rana conceded that because of the case the board will have to see if Raza can be given an assignment in the upcoming Pakistan 'A' and Afghanistan series, scheduled to be held in the country.

But Raza said he was innocent and would fight his case. "I will prove my innocence because I don't want my umpiring career derailed now. I have already gone through enough in the past as well and I will fight my case through my lawyer," he said.

Raza said that he was called to the plaza by a friend and then the police raided the place.

"I really don't know why I have been trapped in this case but I have nothing to do with any betting racket on the IPL matches. I will also be writing to the Pakistan Cricket Board to inform them of my innocence," he said.

The off-spinner was one of six players fined by the Justice Malik Qayyum judicial commission after a match-fixing inquiry against Pakistani players between 1998 and 2000.

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