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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chris Gayle hugs SAD Warner after his 123* (68) goes in vain in CLT20 Semi Final

Misbah, Younis role model for youngsters, says Mohsin

Mohsin Hassan
Pakistan's chief selector and now interim coach Mohsin Khan has said that senior players Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have set high benchmark for others to achieve if they want to play for the national cricket team. The former Test opener said that Misbah at the age of 37 and Younis at 34 have set new benchmarks for fitness and selection in the national team.
"I don't think age is now a major issue as long as a player is fit and hungry. It is very difficult to hide a player who is not 100 per cent fit in international cricket and in every format of the game," Mohsin said while reacting to media reports that he had advised Mohammad Yousuf to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy that commenced at various centres in the country on Thursday.
Yousuf, however, didn't play in the premier domestic competition indicating a virtual end to his international career as he has not been considered for national selection since last year in November when he last played an ODI against South Africa in UAE.
Asked about his conversation with Yousuf, Mohsin said that he never spoke to the former skipper. "Look I have not spoken to Yousuf but I think it is wrong to say so or to say that this player can now no longer play for Pakistan," he said.
Mohsin noted that while a player who is not 100 per cent fit could manage things and hide himself on the field in domestic cricket, this was no longer possible in international cricket giving a clear indication as to the reason why the national selectors were not considering Yousuf for the national team since last year.
Mohsin said that Misbah and Younis were shining examples for other players to follow.
"Even at their age they are more fit than some of the younger players which is a tribute to them," he added.
"There is no doubt or question at all over Yousuf's greatness as a batsman and he is still great. If he decides to play in domestic cricket others can learn a lot from him and anything can happen," Mohsin was quoted as saying.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has made a member of the national selection committee, Mohammad Ilyas, acting chief selector until Mohsin is performing duties as head coach of the national team for the coming series against Sri Lanka in the UAE. Mohsin said he was looking forward to the coaching assignment as a big challenge.
"It will be a good experience watching these players up close and obviously our target is to try to win the series against Sri Lanka but for that we have to be very fit and more hungry for success," he added.
The former Test player conceded that the coming seven to eight months would be a real test for Pakistan cricket but was also a golden opportunity for the national team to improve its rankings and stature.
"You win against stronger or equally matched teams and everyone appreciates your performance more," he added.

Ijaz Butt still rules PCB as three-year term expires

Ijaz Butt, PCB, Pakistan

The million dollar question in Pakistan cricket regarding the replacement or extension of the incumbent PCB chief Ijaz Butt remained unanswered on Friday — despite the expiry of his three-year term in office — since there was no word from the secretariat of the Board’s Patron, President Asif Ali Zardari, regarding the chairman’s fate.

“Constitutionally, Ijaz is no more the PCB chairman after midnight on Friday and he cannot sign any documents since his tenure expires on Oct 7,” former PCB legal adviser Shan Gul told Dawn.

When contacted, PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar confirmed to Dawn that till the closure of the office on Friday, he had no information whether Ijaz Butt’s tenure had been extended or not.

He, however, shied away from answering various constitutional questions relating to the situation.

Former legal adviser Shan added that technically, the PCB chairman’s tenure was over and a new order of extension from the patron was necessary after Friday to allow Ijaz Butt to continue his work.

Meanwhile, the PCB constitution is silent on who will act as acting PCB chairman from Saturday. Though the constitution says that whenever the chairman is out of Pakistan, he could appoint any official to exercise his powers during his absence. But as this is not the case of absence for Ijaz, the constitution is not saying anything clearly in this regard.

Previously, a similar situation also arose when former PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf quit the office soon after the then president Pervez Musharraf resigned from his post in August 2008. A makeshift arrangement was made at the time which saw then chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi taking over as acting chairman till Ijaz Butt assumed powers as the new PCB chief on Oct 8, 2008.

The three-year tenure of Ijaz Butt has been a roller-coaster ride for Pakistan cricket, replete with nasty controversies such as the harrowing terrorist attack on the touring Sri Lankans and the infamous spot-fixing scandal besides frequent changes in the captaincy which saw some half-a-dozen skippers taking turns to lead the national team.

Also, while many of the Pakistan’s front-ranking players such as Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and others were penalised with heavy fines for their indisciplinary acts and poor display on tours, they were soon restored with all ‘serious’ charges getting dropped against them which, indeed, made a mockery of the game in the country.

On the field, while Pakistan scaled a rare high by winning the World T20 in England besides reaching the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup in India, their rankings in both Tests and the ODIs continued to slip due to their ordinary show with both bat and ball — not to forget the fielding — and also because of the number of nasty rows which directly affected the performance of the players.

Ijaz also faced heavy criticism for repeatedly making changes in the team’s captaincy, coaches and team management as well as in the PCB set-up which saw more than one chief operating officers, chief selectors and other officials working for the Board in the three-year period.

Ijaz’s tenure saw captaincy stints from Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt and now Misbah-ul-Haq while among the coaches, former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson, Intikhab Alam, Waqar Younis and Mohsin Khan got their turns as chief coaches of the sides.

The burly chairman also tried Saleem Altaf, Wasim Bari and Subhan Ahmad as chief operating officers during the various periods of his tenure besides appointing former googly bowler Abdul Qadir, leg-spinner Iqbal Qasim, Mohsin Khan and now Mohammad Ilyas as chief selectors on different occasions.

Ijaz received a stern warning for such chop-and-change policy from the the ICC Task Team which warned the chairman to put the PCB affairs in order for the sake of the game’s future in the country.

Ijaz himself often boasted of how he had curbed the player-power in the team. “I have eliminated the player-power and that is my great success,” Ijaz had said in an interview to Dawn some four months back.

However, even that was not an entirely correct assessment of things from the former wicketkeeper-batsman since the team-wranglings and groupings continued to harm Pakistan cricket on tours.

During his tenure, the PCB relationship with ICC also remained disturbed, especially after the game’s governing body removed Pakistan as one of the co-hosts of the World Cup-2011 soon after Sri Lankan cricket team attack in Lahore.

Ijaz, however, fought against the ICC decision of removing Pakistan as hosts and even served a legal notice on the governing body, but later on both the organizations settled the issue amicably.

Ijaz served as the chairman of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for two years but could not play an active role in the body, mainly because BCCI did not extend due cooperation to him.

The bilateral series between Pakistan and India also could not be restored during this tenure.

Though Ijaz had succeeded in reducing the expenditure of the PCB by taking various steps and no major financial corruption case surfaced, his decision of constructing a stadium in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, a small town, with a huge allocation of funds of Rs250 million raised many an eye-brow since many believed the stadium is only being built to serve the political purposes of the leading political party.

The construction work on the Pindi Stadium as well as the Gaddafi Stadium could not be completed despite huge expenses.

Moreover, the bio-mechanics laboratory which was imported by Dr Nasim Ashraf could not become functional at all.

Dean Jones is not the man PCB should look at to coach Pakistan cricket team

Dean Jones is not the man PCB should look at to coach Pakistan cricket team

Former Australian batsman Dean Jones has thrown the hat in the ring for the post of Pakistan’s cricket coach – one of the five men shortlisted for the job, along with former England all-rounder Dermot Reeve and Aaqib Javed.

Jones has courted controversy all through his cricketing career; diplomacy has not been his forte. And it does give one the jitters that such a man should be in the running to coach a team that has been embroiled in chaos and controversies.

Having said that, Pakistan has seen relative calm and stability, besides success, in the past year under Waqar Younis. It’s important that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) opts for a coach who will continue that legacy left by Waqar and consolidate on their recent gains. And that means appointing a coach with similar temperament and coaching methodologies.

Someone like Mudassar Nazar or Aaqib Javib are closer to Waqar in demeanor, besides having a deeper and meaningful knowledge of the players and Pakistani culture. Pakistan cricketers can be volatile and the key is as much in handling the players as much as their playing skills.

Mudassar has been known not to take any nonsense from any player in his role of Chief of the Youth Academy, where he famously threw out Umar Akmal for not living up to his expectations. It’s much easier for a local to clamp that kind of discipline than an outsider like Dean Jones. In Jones, you would have a man that would in essence invite the termites back in the house.

For example, he told The Age newspaper that there was no shortage of talent in Pakistan and if successful in getting the job of the coach, he would try to and get back Shahid Afridi out of retirement after the flamboyant former captain quit over differences with Waqar.

Comments like the one above indicate his ignorance of Pakistan cricket and what has contributed to the smooth functioning of the team.

Jones is also known for shooting his mouth off before thinking and landing in a mess. And there is no better example than him dubbing South African Hashim Amla a “terrorist” in the commentary box. Though it was said in a lighter vein, the comments did not go down well - with the Muslim community in particular. Certainly, that insensitive remark would not be forgotten by the fundamentalists in Pakistan.

Clearly, Jones is not the man Pakistan should be looking at to replace Waqar Younis. They cannot afford to fritter away the good done by the outgoing coach.

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