asian games
Will the sport of sailing bring Pakistan any more laurels?
Indulging in the sport of sailing can be expensive. So it is a discipline perhaps only for the leisurely classes or the rich and the restless
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
Like most other disciplines, that Pakistan participated in last month's Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, sailing also drew a blank for them. For the first time in eight editions of the Asiad, since their first appearance at Bangkok 1978, Pakistan's sailors failed to earn a single medal in this sport. Their previous haul was a healthy 10 medals -- five gold, three silver and two bronze.

Inzamam-ul-Haq faces a tough farewell series in South Africa
Inzamam will have to lift the level of his game if he wants to wrap up his Test career with an average of over 50 runs. The master batsman needs a couple of unbeaten or big knocks to remain in the elite group
By Ghalib Mehmood Bajwa
It's the second time in a row that Pakistan are playing the tough South Africans in a Test and ODI cricket series ahead of the showpiece World Cup event. Remember, the same South Africans were their opponents when Pakistan played their last Test and ODI rubber prior to the 2003 World Cup.

cricket
Inzamam's team looks to win first series in South Africa
South Africa has an edge over Pakistan in both forms of the game. In five series, 11 Tests have been played of which South Africa have won five while Pakistan were successful twice
By Khurram Mahmood
The Pakistan team has landed in South Africa with the hope to win its first Test series on South African soil. Earlier, in the three times that Pakistan has toured South Africa -- 1994-95, 1997-98 and 2002-03 -- it has never won a Test series there, while the Proteas have visited Pakistan twice in 1997-98 and 2003-04, losing 0-1 on the latter trip.

Inzamam-ul-Haq: The best choice as a leader?
Inzamam's batting average as non-captain is 49.35 in 145 innings, whereas his average as captain touches the mark of 53.63 in 47 innings which is the third highest after Ponting's 63.21 and Lara's 57.84
By Syed Ahsan Ali
The last few months have been quite demanding and troublesome for Pakistan cricket and especially for Inzamam-ul-Haq. The entire Darrell Hair episode left some scary scars on the face of Pakistan cricket. As per our habit of looking for scapegoats after every chaos, speculations emerged over the exit of Inzamam as the national skipper during that turmoil, but thankfully common sense prevailed, letting him captain the side for the South Africa tour and most probably in the 2007 World Cup.

Pakistan cricket: Media, power and the menace
Sports journalism is a highly responsible job and needs adequately resourced people covering games. Regrettably, in Pakistan most of the correspondents are not well qualified
By Dr Nauman Niaz
When Inzamam-ul-Haq arrived home from England in August 2006, having spent more than three months overseas and having suffered a good deal of disappointment, he strode through the Karachi airport terminal, he was skeptical to attend to the journalists and media. He tried to ignore a phalanx of newspaper and broadcast-media reporters, many of whom had started to dissect the past and predict the future. Retreating, indignant, they labelled him a failed captain and some decided that he was no longer the man for the job. They did not know their man.

 

 

Will the sport of sailing bring Pakistan any more laurels?

Indulging in the sport of sailing can be expensive. So it is a discipline perhaps only for the leisurely classes or the rich and the restless

By Gul Hameed Bhatti

Like most other disciplines, that Pakistan participated in last month's Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, sailing also drew a blank for them. For the first time in eight editions of the Asiad, since their first appearance at Bangkok 1978, Pakistan's sailors failed to earn a single medal in this sport. Their previous haul was a healthy 10 medals -- five gold, three silver and two bronze.

Judging by this tally of medals, one can easily say that sailing has been one of Pakistan's most prominent medal-winning sporting disciplines in international competition. Yet, it now seems that this department is finally running dry and one wonders whether the sport of sailing will bring the country any more laurels in the near future.

Sailing is not even indigenous to Pakistan. Most people outside Karachi -- where sailing is fiercely competed by a select group of men and women, boys and girls, because of its proximity to the ocean -- are not even aware what it is all about. Even in Karachi, where an international regatta was recently held at the Karachi Boat Club, the local newspapers kept on referring to the event as the 'National Sailing Championship' whereas it was simply a rowing competition.

That's why one fine day back in the year 1978, when Pakistani sports enthusiasts woke up to the news of one of their sailing duos winning an Asian Games gold medal, at least the urge to know more about the sport came to the surface.

The Pakistan sailing contingent, or 'yachting' as it was called then, was not even officially entered at the Bangkok 1978 Asian Games. Quietly for several months, famous Karachi businessman and hotel industry magnate Byram Dinshaw Avari and a young Pakistan Navy officer, Lt Munir Sadiq, had been training on the shores of Thailand. They entered the Asiad at their own expense and won for Pakistan a gold medal in the Men's Enterprise class.

What followed is now Pakistan history. The nation has won four gold medals in the Enterprise race at the Asian Games in addition to three silver medals. Inspired by the trend set by Avari and Munir Sadiq, Pakistan sailors won another gold medal at the Asiads plus two bronze medals. But Doha 2006 has seen them return home empty-handed.

 

IS IT A RICH MAN'S SPORT?

Indulging in the sport of sailing can be expensive. So it is a discipline perhaps only for the leisurely classes or the rich and the restless. Where Pakistan is concerned, Naval officers also have access to sail boats because their department can afford them. Otherwise, as a civilian enthusiast, you either have to be able to afford the expensive sea craft, be a member of the exclusive National Sailing Club or live in a city which is close to the ocean. Most Pakistanis don't fit this description.

It is thus a matter of pride and some wonderment that Pakistan sailors have won so many medals at the Asian Games. They have gold medals in their bag but India, where the tradition of sailing is much more deep-rooted, have only a solitary gold medal to show for their efforts at eight editions of the Asiad.

India picked up their lone gold at the 1982 Asian Games in their own backyard -- the yachting event though was held in Bombay instead of New Delhi -- in the Men's Fireball class. In addition, however, they have collected five silver and nine bronze medals.

But since their entering the Asian Games yachting competition at Seoul 1986, this event has been dominated by China and Korea, with the former already having totalled 20 gold medals and Korea 16. At Doha 2006, Singapore showed that they the region's best light wind sailors, as the small far eastern nation pocketed five of the 14 gold medals on offer, with four going to China. Singapore took 10 medals in all.

Pakistan have clearly suffered, because sailing is not a universally popular sport here. It is truly a rich man's sport, although it is totally amateur in essence and the only common people with access to competitive sail boats, as mentioned earlier, are employees of the Pakistan Navy.

 

GOSHPI AVARI HOLDS A UNIQUE RECORD

Although Byram Avari had Lt Munir Sadiq as his partner when the two won for Pakistan their first yachting gold in 1978, Avari opted for his wife Goshpi as his second-in-command for the 1982 event in New Delhi as Munir was not available. And the two Avaris repeated the feat by winning a second gold medal for Pakistan, again in the Enterprise class.

Women have always been allowed to take part in sailing but it was at Beijing 1990 that separate races were introduced for female sailors at the Asian Games. At the 1982 Asiad, Goshpi was the only women competitor in the yachting event and what's more, after having won her medal, she remains the only Pakistani woman to have gained a gold medal in any sporting competition of international standard.

Pakistan's yachtsmen participated in three Olympic Games too -- at Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 -- without doing anything of note. They also took part in several international meets, starting with the World Sailing Championship in Canada in 1981. And, although they did pick up a medal or a position here and there, their real success has been at the Asian Games.

Munir Sadiq returned for the Seoul Asiad in 1986 and, with his Navy teammate M Zakaullah, kept up with the gold tradition with another medal in the Enterprise class. The two teamed up again at Beijing 1990 and won Pakistan's fourth gold medal at the Asian Games in their chosen race.

At Hiroshima 1994 and Bangkok 1998, Munir Sadiq was joined by his brother Mamoon Sadiq but the two could only fetch two silver medals in the event, now known as Enterprise Open. At Busan 2002, Shehryar Arshad and Riaz Mohammad won another silver medal for Pakistan in Enterprise Open.

Let's not forget the superlative effort of Naval officer Khalid Mahmood Akhtar, who won a gold medal for Pakistan in the OK Dinghy race at New Delhi 1982. In that Asiad, the country collected two sailing gold medals.

At Hiroshima 1994, Pakistan also won a bronze medal through Arslan Khan in the Open Optimist Class for Boys. At Bangkok 1998, Zahid Rauf took the bronze medal place in the Open Super Moth event.

Quantitatively, Munir Sadiq has been Pakistan's most prolific medal winner in Asian Games sailing. He has three gold medals and two silver to his credit, which totals to exactly half of Pakistan's tally of 10 medals.

 

JUST WHAT IS SAILING?

According to its history, sailing first became an Olympic sport in Paris in 1900, where time handicaps were used to adjudicate the race. The race format and the classes of competing boats have changed frequently since then. Olympic racing is now conducted with boats categorised into one-design classes based on similar weights and measurements.

Races are sailed in what is known as a fleet racing format, fleets of boats racing around the same course area at the same time.

The boats race around courses, which incorporate a variety of different sailing angles, upwind, downwind and reaching. Races are scheduled to last between 30 and 75 minutes depending on the event.

Scores are awarded according to finishing positions in each race. The lowest accumulated scores throughout the competition earn the medals.

Sailing, also called yachting, has been practised since antiquity as a means of transport. In the modern sense, yachting probably originated in the Netherlands, and the word seems to come from the Dutch "jaght" or "jaght schip", probably a light, fast naval craft.

Sailing was first contested at the 1900 Olympics. It made its next Olympic appearance in 1908 and has been on every Olympic programme since that year. Sailing has had a varied programme that is usually changed every few Olympiads as the popularity of various boats waxes and wanes. The trend has been towards smaller and smaller boats, with fewer crew members. In some of the early Olympics, crews had as many a 10-12 sailors. During the 2000 Sydney Games, only one event had a three-person crew (Soling), with six events contested by lone sailors.

In effect, sailing made its Olympic debut in Sydney, as it became the first Olympic sport to make a name change. The sport had always been called yachting in the past.

 

THE ASIAN GAMES AT DOHA

One reason why Pakistan didn't add any more medals to its sailing haul could be that the Enterprise Class is no more on the Asian Games agenda. Still, the country sent as many as 13 sailors to Doha, including three females.

Only 19 of the 45 member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) were represented in the Doha Asiad sailing competitions. Singapore, who eventually won five gold medals, sent the biggest contingent with 20 participants. Korea had 18 sailors, hosts Qatar 14, China and Pakistan 13 each and Japan and Thailand 12 each. There were 168 contestants in all.

A total of 42 medals were on offer, including 14 gold. Four of the classes were exclusively for women. Needless to say, Pakistan performed poorly in all events that they took part in.

Xerxes Byram Avari, son of Byram and Goshpi, along with his crew Mahboob Rafiq finished eighth and last in the 470 Men. When he had teamed up with Kamil Aziz Khan at Busan 2002, the duo had finished sixth out of eight in the same event.

Youngster Mohammad Abdur Rehman, only 13 years old, started off well but eventually finished last out of 11 in the Optimist Men. Mohammad Yousuf was ninth out of 10 in Laser Men and Ashfaq Iqbal ninth out of 11 in Laser Radial Open.

Ujala Mir Masood and Maria Sahr were one of only four teams in the 420 Women. They ended up last in each of their 12 races. With just a little bit of luck, they could have finished third and won the bronze medal!

Sabahatullah Babar was eighth and last in Laser 4.7 Open. Ujala's younger sister Ghazal Mir Masood, also 13 but three months younger than Rehman, finished ninth out of 10 in Optimist Women and the Pakistan team, in the new match racing event of Beneteau 7.5 Open, came sixth out of eight teams and were nowhere near qualifying for the semifinals.

Just as a matter of interest, apart from Goshpi Avari and the three girls in Doha, two other female sailors have also represented Pakistan at the Asian Games. Syeda Lisa Mobin participated at Bangkok 1998 and Andrea Yasmin Rehman at Busan 2002. They didn't make many waves though, coming in last or thereabouts in their respective events.

If you are wondering why there isn't any mention of the sailing event at the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran, well, it wasn't held that year. The first appearance was at Bangkok 1970 and the next, also at Bangkok in 1978.

 

Gul Hameed Bhatti is Group Editor Sports of the Jang Group which includes 'The News'

gulhbhatti@hotmail.com

ghb52@yahoo.com

ASIAN GAMES SAILING 1970-2006

MEDALS WON BY ALL PARTICIPANT NATIONS

Country G S B Total Rank

China 20 11 6 37 2

Korea 16 7 11 34 3

Japan 13 16 11 40 1

Singapore 8 8 10 26 5

Thailand 7 11 14 32 4

Pakistan 5 3 2 10 8

Hong Kong 3 6 4 13 7

Malaysia 2 4 1 7 9

India 1 5 9 15 6

Burma/Myanmar 1 1 4 6 10

Indonesia 1 1 3 5 11

Ceylon/Sri Lanka 0 1 1 2 =12

Philippines 0 1 1 2 =12

Chinese Taipei 0 1 0 1 =14

Qatar 0 1 0 1 =14

GRAND TOTAL 77 77 77 231

 

Inzamam-ul-Haq faces a tough farewell series in South Africa

Inzamam will have to lift the level of his game if he wants to wrap up his Test career with an average of over 50 runs. The master batsman needs a couple of unbeaten or big knocks to remain in the elite group

By Ghalib Mehmood Bajwa

It's the second time in a row that Pakistan are playing the tough South Africans in a Test and ODI cricket series ahead of the showpiece World Cup event. Remember, the same South Africans were their opponents when Pakistan played their last Test and ODI rubber prior to the 2003 World Cup.

Is it by chance or pre-planned who knows? And who can forget the horrible results in the said series. It won't be wrong if we say that the moral-damaging effects of that series played havoc with Pakistan and resultantly they crashed out of the World Cup event even before the Super Six stage -- in spite of having the services of super stars like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

After watching the recent mixed performances of both the sides it's quite hard to predict what's going to happen in the fresh competition. However, the upcoming Test and ODI series has many significant aspects for both the leading teams of the world. Beside other impacts, the series would decide the second best side of the world after Australia and the winner of the series would definitely enter the grand World Cup event with a great psychological edge over the others.

Keeping all these effects in notice, both the sides are bidding to introduce the best possible combinations in both the batting and bowling departments.

The series has equal importance for Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is most probably playing his farewell Test and ODI series. The series provides Inzamam the last chance to score a century against South Africa, which is the only team missing in his collection of hundreds.

After scoring a ton against South Africa, the Pakistan captain can join the elite band with centuries against all the Test playing nations. Before Inzi, eight batsmen -- Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist (all from Australia), Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid (both from India), Brian Lara (WI), Gary Kirsten (South Africa) and Marvan Atapattu (Sri Lanka) have already achieved this distinction.

Inzamam got a couple of chances to score a century against the South Africans in the past but he lost his concentration and then his wicket in the 90s twice. In 1995, he lost his scalp at 95 at Johannesburg and in 1998 he succumbed to South Africa's bowling just four short of his hundred at Faisalabad.

It's a fact that Inzi's number of centuries could have gone beyond 30 had he not been a victim of the nervous 90s and nervous 80s on seven occasions each, the most by a Pakistani.

Remember, Inzi had a record-breaking year in 2005, but as compared to that he could not maintain the level of his performance in the just ended year in both versions of the game. In 2006, Inzamam, who already had 25 Test centuries in his kitty, finished with 563 runs in 11 Tests at just 37.53 with only one century and three fifties. Overall he entered into the 30s or 40s five times but could not convert those good starts into big scores.

However, during 2006 Inzamam, who is passing through the final phase of his illustrious career, became the leading Test fifty scorer of the country with 45 50-plus knocks surpassing batting maestro Javed Miandad's national record of 43 fifties. Now he is joint eighth with four others in the list of leading fifty scorers of the world.

In ODIs, Inzamam scored 450 runs in 19 matches with only one fifty. Though he entered the 40s six times during the last 12 months period, could not extend those scores to 50s or centuries which shows a clear decline in his ability to score big knocks.

Inzamam, who has scored just 247 runs in five Tests in South Africa, faces another big challenge in the upcoming rubber to maintain his 50 plus average in Tests. Keeping in view the not-so-impressive performance of the year 2006, it seems a bit difficult for the ageing skipper but he is such a quality batsman who can bat with authority even in testing conditions.

At the moment, Inzamam has a 50.38 runs average mainly due to an unbeaten knock of 58 against West Indies in the last innings of Karachi Test. It is worth-mentioning that after being dismissed for 18 in the first innings at Karachi, Inzamam's Test average had gone down to 50.04.

Inzamam will have to lift the level of his game if he wants to wrap up his Test career with an average of over 50 runs. The master batsman needs a couple of unbeaten or big knocks to remain in the elite group with a 50 plus Test average.

There are only two other Pakistani batsmen -- Mohammad Yousuf (56.65) and Javed Miandad (52.57) other than Inzamam, with 50 plus averages in Test matches. Inzi must keep in notice that the batsmen with 50 plus Test averages are always considered among the greats.

 

The writer is a staff member at 'The News' Lahore

ghalibmbajwa@yahoo.com

 

cricket

Inzamam's team looks to win first series in South Africa

South Africa has an edge over Pakistan in both forms of the game. In five series, 11 Tests have been played of which South Africa have won five while Pakistan were successful twice

By Khurram Mahmood

The Pakistan team has landed in South Africa with the hope to win its first Test series on South African soil. Earlier, in the three times that Pakistan has toured South Africa -- 1994-95, 1997-98 and 2002-03 -- it has never won a Test series there, while the Proteas have visited Pakistan twice in 1997-98 and 2003-04, losing 0-1 on the latter trip.

Inzamam-ul-Haq has a very good opportunity to win his first Test series against the Proteas in South Africa, as India's victory in the first Test at Johannesburg must boost the morale of the Pakistani players as the visitors must have a better pace attack then India.

Though Shoaib Akhtar and Shabbir Ahmed were not included in the side on fitness grounds, Mohammad Asif's return increases Pakistan's chances. Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Shahid Nazir and Danish Kaneria have the ability to bowl out any opposition twice in a Test match.

In the batting department skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan are the experienced players in the middle order while Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Faisal Iqbal are the young guns in the top and middle order to support their seniors.

Pakistan will surely miss the services of all-rounder Abdul Razzaq who misses the Test series due to injury. He is a utility player to support in both the batting and bowling departments.

Pakistan's chances to win their first Test series in South African soil will depend on the batting performance specially the opening stand. During South Africa's tour to Pakistan in 2003 Pakistan's openers Taufeeq Umar and Imran Farhat hit 109 and 134 in the first Test in Lahore and the pair added 137 in the first innings of the second Test at Faisalabad to become Pakistan's only opening pair to record three century stands in successive innings of Test matches.

They joined an elite club, including England's two pairs of openers -- Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton and Cyril Washbrook -- and the Australian pair of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer, who have compiled three century stands in three successive Test innings.

The Test series win's credit definitely belonged to the openers for providing an opportunity to the middle order to score big totals and keep the pressure on the opponents. Specially, the 22-year-old left-hander Taufeeq Umar who scored three successive half-centuries following a century in the first innings of the Lahore Test which Pakistan won by eight wickets. His series aggregate was 313 runs.

Former leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed's reappointment within three months after hissacking as assistant coach is a surprise decision. Mushtaq was also assistant coach till Nasim Ashraf took charge as the PCB Chief from Shaharyar Khan just before the ICC Champions Trophy in October last year, and in his first move he removed Mushtaq from his job as "his services were not required for the Pakistan team anymore".

But surprisingly just after three months Mushtaq has became a necessary need of the team and he has been reappointed as assistant coach and Nasim Ashraf accepted that "Mushtaq has impressed me a lot with his cricketing knowledge and I think he can be a good choice for the South African tour."

South Africa has an edge over Pakistan in both forms of the game. In five series, 11 Tests have been played of which South Africa have won five while Pakistan were successful twice.

South Africa's 620-7 at Cape Town in 2002-03 is the highest score from both sides in any Test innings so far, while the 456 at Rawalpindi in 1997-98 is still the highest score for Pakistan.

Pakistan were bowled out for 92 runs while chasing just 146 to win at Faisalabad in 1997-98. It is still the lowest completed innings total from both sides.

Former South African left-hand opener Gerry Kirsten is the top scorer from both sides with 838 runs in 11 Tests with the help of two centuries, averaging 55.86. From Pakistan also, a left-hand opener Taufeeq Umar scored most runs (593) from Pakstan in just four Tests at an average of 74.12 including two hundreds.

Skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq has scored 495 runs against South Africa so far in nine Test matches and has failed to cross the three figure mark. His average of 33.00 does not show his class but now he has an opportunity to break the jinx and score his first hundred against the Proteas.

In the bowling department Shaun Pollock has taken the most (37) Test wickets in 10 matches at an average of 20.91. Current assistant coach and former leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed is the most successful Pakistan bowler against South Africa with 29 wickets in eight Tests with an average of 29.82.

So far eight centuries have been scored by Pakistan batsmen in the 11 Tests played between the two countries. Azhar Mahmood's 136 runs at Johannesburg in 1997-98 tour is still the highest score from any Pakistani batsman. For South Africa seven centuries have been scored. Herschelle Gibbs played the highest innings (228) for South Africa at Cape Town in 2002-03 when he and Graeme Smith (151) shared 368 runs for the first wicket.

 

PAKISTAN v SOUTH AFRICA: TEST SERIES SUMMARY

Season Host Tests PAK RSA Draw Series Trophy

1994-95 South Africa 1 0 1 0 South Africa

1997-98 Pakistan 3 0 1 2 South Africa

1997-98 South Africa 3 1 1 1 Drawn

2002-03 South Africa 2 0 2 0 South Africa

2003-04 Pakistan 2 1 0 1 Pakistan

Total in Pakistan 5 1 1 3

Total in South Africa 6 1 4 1

GRAND TOTAL 11 2 5 4

 

Inzamam-ul-Haq:

The best choice as a leader?

Inzamam's batting average as non-captain is 49.35 in 145 innings, whereas his average as captain touches the mark of 53.63 in 47 innings which is the third highest after Ponting's 63.21 and Lara's 57.84

By Syed Ahsan Ali

The last few months have been quite demanding and troublesome for Pakistan cricket and especially for Inzamam-ul-Haq. The entire Darrell Hair episode left some scary scars on the face of Pakistan cricket. As per our habit of looking for scapegoats after every chaos, speculations emerged over the exit of Inzamam as the national skipper during that turmoil, but thankfully common sense prevailed, letting him captain the side for the South Africa tour and most probably in the 2007 World Cup.

In this article, we look closely at Inzamam as a captain, and whether he is able to cover all the bases successfully as the skipper.

The last two and a half years have been phenomenal for this great son of Multan. As a captain, he is head and shoulders above the rest of international captains in almost all the key areas that are essential to form a great captain in both forms of the game.

If you look around the international scene, you have four world-class batsmen playing the game presently as captains: Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul-Haq. Let me include great Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar in this list because he has worn the captaincy cap for his side on numerous occasions.

All of these names do not need any testimony of what they have already achieved on the cricketing field. But captaincy is one area which requires something extra from even the superstars to be amongst the best in the business.

Inzamam did in his tenure as captain what all others dream to acquire and that is success. Batting averages are one good parameter to judge the mighty batsmen in diverse scenarios or whether they are good in certain conditions. Judging by averages is a proven way to measure any batsman's capabilities in particular situations. If you examine the averages of all these contemporary greats, you would find striking facts that tell everything about the greatness of Inzamam.Only Ponting has a better Test batting average as captain than Inzamam among all these great men. Ponting's batting average as an ordinary team member is 55.97 in 119 innings which rises dramatically to 67.21 as captain in 63 innings, Dravid's batting average as a non-captain is 60.12 in 146 innings, taking a big dip in the form of average of 49.11 in 32 innings as the team's leader.

The great Caribbean prince Lara's batting average as non-captain is 50.12 in 147 innings and his batting average as captain is 57.84 in 85 innings. Tendulkar's batting average is 56.11 as a non-captain in 170 innings but has a lower 51.35 in 43 innings as national captain.

Inzamam's batting average as non-captain is 49.35 in 145 innings, whereas his average as captain touches the mark of 53.63 in 47 innings which is the third highest after Ponting's 63.21 and Lara's 57.84 as captain presently at the international scene.

There has been one famous cricket saying that you are as good a captain as your team is. Ponting has abundance of talent in his ranks that give him an air of confidence, determination and feel of domination over his opponents that exhibit in his batting as well. If you have the guile and skills of McGrath and those of Warne in bowling and the flare and panache of Hayden, Langer, Gilchrist in the batting department, then what else could you ask for?

Inzamam has to handle relatively inexperienced side with the added burden of undue criticism from media and former cricketers. So at this front, he looks on an even keel with Ponting.

Let's analyse the performance of Inzamam in the one-day arena as captain. Inzamam has been on a complete different plain as far as performance in one-day format of the game is concerned. Many regard him as the best finisher; the best to pace the innings, and unarguably the best to absorb pressure in nerve-wracking situations. Inzamam looks ascendant as far as one-day batting as captain is concerned over all his other competitors. He has the best average as captain among current one-day captains. Inzamam has a batting average of 46.68 as captain in comparison with Ponting's 41.92, Tendulkar's 38.33, Dravid's 41.00, Fleming's 32.71, Lara's 35.52, Jayawardene's 46.39, Michael Vaughan's 31.51 and Graeme Smith's 37.66 in their captaincy roles.

Moreover, Inzamam's ability to hunt big targets induced us to look at him in a different light altogether. His calmness, pulverising power and serenity to chase huge totals with control place him among the very best of the game.

Ironically, we are asking for his termination from the job of leadership. The biggest confrontations on the international cricketing scene have been considered by the followers of the game are Indo-Pak Test series and the Ashes. Both require steel-like nerves to be a part even and come out as dominant party.

Both contests have a long history of heated and scintillating events with a feast of flare, passion, pride and emotions. So everyone can imagine what it is like to be a part of something like that and even more if you are holding the position of chief of the ship.

Earlier, we examined the character of Ponting and Inzamam's leaderships in Tests cricket and found out that there is hardly anything to choose between the two.

Now we study the performances of these two great captains against the biggest opponents and traditional rivals in stiffer mental conditions. We are doing this to come up with an answer as to who is the most capable to assimilate pressure in tough situations.

As cricket followers, we are aware that both Indo-Pak series and Ashes catch enormous hype and media footage, so consequently they demands more especially from the captains to give their hundred percent every time they go out against their old enemies.

But here you find that Inzamam has an upper-hand over Ponting with an unassailable lead. Inzamam's Test batting averages in the last three series when Pakistan faced India were outstanding and speak volumes for themselves.

When India came to Pakistan in 2003-04 Inzamam's average was 43.80, then when Pakistan went to India in 2004-05 he averaged 80.20, and in the last rubber against when India came to Pakistan in 2005-06 he scored at 60.00. His overall batting average against India while being the national captain is 61.66 with 3 hundreds and 3 fifties in comparison with his overall batting average of 50.38. These figures are enough to say that how good he is when playing against archrivals.

Similarly, Ponting's average as captain against England is 63.07 with 3 hundredsand 3 fifties when we compare it to his career average of 59.71. So we can safely say that there is nothing to choose between the two.

On the contrary, Inzamam looks far more dominant in the one-day format. He performed even better in fiercely competitive one-dayers against India. Inzamam's overall one day average is 39.96, but his average against India as captain is a staggering 47.40, and even more commendable whenever against the likes of Kumble, Pathan and Harbhajan he chases his average swells to 57.60 which is phenomenal by any stretch of imagination.

Now, one looks at Ponting's capability to handle pressure against England in one-dayers. His overall one-day average is 41.64 which is extraordinary, when we look at his definitely below par average of 38.52 against the Englishmen. One doesn't think that it is difficult to identify the better one-day side presently, India or England.

Inzamam has been on a completely different plain in his captaincy tenure, but woefully he fails to satisfy the experts of the game. The best way to be a successful captain is to perform better than your teammates and contemporaries, and all these figures are crying vociferously that he passes that test as well.

In my opinion, his stint as captain is much less tumultuous and controversial than either of Wasim Akram, Miandad and Imran's.

He handled Shoaib Akhtar's scenario with resolve and sanguine, resolved Younis and Afridi's conflict and above all of that maintain good spirit in the unit. Could have anyone else with lesser stature and experience behaved so well in such demanding situations. The player of his calibre demands respect, not only from his teammates, but from experts of the game as well.

If we take any hasty step at this point of time, then I am afraid we will tarnish our chances to do well in the upcoming matches. At the present, Inzamam seems the best and perhaps the only choice to lead our team.

 

Pakistan cricket: Media, power and the menace

Sports journalism is a highly responsible job and needs adequately resourced people covering games. Regrettably, in Pakistan most of the correspondents are not well qualified

 

By Dr Nauman Niaz

When Inzamam-ul-Haq arrived home from England in August 2006, having spent more than three months overseas and having suffered a good deal of disappointment, he strode through the Karachi airport terminal, he was skeptical to attend to the journalists and media. He tried to ignore a phalanx of newspaper and broadcast-media reporters, many of whom had started to dissect the past and predict the future. Retreating, indignant, they labelled him a failed captain and some decided that he was no longer the man for the job. They did not know their man.

Yet what could Inzamam have said? And why should he have said anything? For the previous fortnight, eversince Pakistan had plunged into controversy in the final Test at The Oval before embarking on an ill-conceived round of limited overs games, he had been conducting interviews, struggling to give explanations, striving to impart some hope for the World Cup that was in the view.

In his own mind, he had obliged every representative of media and now facing a possible ban, he did not regard dawn at Karachi airport as the time or the place to restate that he had said all there was to say and that, therefore his duties were suspended.

There is no definitive answer to this, for it is just one minor yet typical example of a trend in media that demands quotes, or sound bytes, no matter how anodine it is to the mouthpiece concerned. The comments are then used to create headlines, in either broadcasting or newspaper terms, and to provoke reaction from other involved parties hence more quotes, more sound bytes, more headlines, and more reaction. And so the circle continues.

It is all so far removed from the long standing traditions of reporting cricket as to be unrecognisable. The question, however, is whether the game and its players have benefited. On the plus side they receive incalculably more coverage than of old, which not only raises the profile of the game as a whole but can dramatically promote individuals to prominence. The debits are a lack of privacy -- for intrusion affects famous cricketers as well as stars of soap opera and, not to be confused with them, members of the government -- and a lack of perspective, reflected in the inclination of areas of the media to create astonishing rows out of purely mundane happenings.

The game, and its major players, is now constantly under scrutiny and receives the column inches to match. It is helping to make cricket financially rich but whether, as a result, its human relations are all the poorer, is a matter for debate. Inzamam, a man who values his privacy, detests being quoted and finds it hard to adopt artificial moods for media purposes and Shoaib Akhtar, a man in complete contrast, so one further case study.

In Shoaib's case there have been times when the crude hounding of a distinguished and popular sportsman has taken him to task; however he has also been party to his own destruction. Apart from the media, the self-imposed experts and people with vested interest have also harmed the players and indirectly country's image. Recent example of this is the doping controversy.

Quite frequently, irresponsible statements coming from people eager to vindicate their mindsets and decisions, unknowingly, quite frequently led to Pakistan bashing. Now, one wonders with global net working at place, we have been giving wrong signals about how bad the things are in our country. This amounts to hurting Pakistan's image.

Sports journalism is a highly responsible job and needs adequately resourced people covering games. Regrettably, in Pakistan most of the correspondents are not well qualified, several without the standard degrees in journalism or mass communications. And then, though both ways, the journalists have been used and vice versa for trivial monetary or material gains.

It's not that it's rare in the world, tabloids have virtually become an industry in England but to some extent in our set-up, like in any other sector, this has gone unbridled and has hurt the cause of sports, the image and also doing lot of disservice. Time has come we need to institutionalise things, pushing back self service and vested interests.

Apart from coercion, extortion and such other maladies, the in built jealousies have also taken greater toll of journalism in the country. It has to become more institutionalised and selfless and the sports correspondents around must start believing that they have a major role to play in evolving a new image of highly competitive, liberal and a rapidly developing Pakistan and also they carry the burden of helping sports prosper in the country.

Recently there was a report regarding Shoaib Akhtar, in high spirits causing nuisance in a team hotel in India also slapping Bob Woolmer in the coach. The unauthenticated story was picked by the local press and spun around in every nook and corner.

One must put it here, the timing was absolutely wrong. There were tribunal proceedings in process when the story hit Shoaib like a sledgehammer. One must also admit that Shoaib has been an embattled man and it has largely been his own fault. Under suspicion of night clubbing, late nights and Nandrolone use, he has been seen at places where he shouldn't have been on tours.

Nevertheless, though indiscreet his social life, one says with conviction has been soberer than some of the other world and national stars. He has a public image and he is immensely popular. He has a westernised appearance but at the end of the day, he is a true patriotic Pakistani.

Regardless, of his debonair and dressing, one must respect his talent, persona and aura that he brings to cricket, adding spice and flavour. During this period, when Shoaib was stressed with his cricketing future hanging in thin balance and there was skepticism regarding the tribunal's pending decision, the drama of the situation, the rumours that he had compromised his integrity, set off an almighty brouhaha.

For a week, speculation was to rage about whether Shoaib would be banned or whether, indeed, he should be sacked. It became a hysterical witch-hunt and the perspectives of the situation were long forgotten, along with any respect for the sanctity of man's image. And when Shoaib was banned for two years, it was a decision, tough but legally correct, presumably one too harsh, that would have been calamitous for Pakistan cricket -- was when he realised that he could not even go home in peace. Was this onslaught justified by the convenient pretext that he was a public figure? Or was it the crude hounding of a distinguished and popular sportsman?

There is no definitive year, much less moment, when the media approach to cricket and cricketers was so comprehensively transformed. It began gradually, insidiously, during the 1970s with the rise of tabloid newspapers and their clamour for quotes-led news stories in preference to match reportage, yet well before this there were occasional instances of players and administrators 'telling all' to a newspaper and being well paid for their trouble.

Now, this comes to the individual's character. What has caused so many problems for the Pakistan players in more recent years is that, whereas we were only accompanied by bona fide cricket correspondents who had the interests of the game at heart and with whom players shared a mutual respect and a common interest in keeping each other sane, nowadays touring teams are pursued by a press corps containing far more newsmen than genuine cricket writers, who are interested only in finding a story -- and the juicier the better.

No cricketer stimulates such an approach, or suffers from it, more than Shoaib Akhtar. He can be considered unlucky to have been a star in an age when ability earned no license from the media, only intensified scrutiny, but for the way he lives his life, not to mention the style in which he plays his cricket, Shoaib is always destined to become a favourite plaything of the press.

The sadness, for his many admirers, is that as the attention grew more unflattering and his conduct more dubious, he has adopted a show of sanctimony, blaming the media and colleagues for all his troubles, and one of hypocrisy in unthinkingly taking the brunt. Now what media has to do with his constant stand-offs with the administration such as not signing the central contract and refusing to wear a logo during the Twenty20 competition.

Has he become bigger than the game itself? Or he is too paranoid about his own self and indispensability. Ill-equipped journalists also have a role to play making people like Shoaib overnight heroes and then pulling the rug when they are stuck with the administrators or when the going is tough.

I was not born to write about cricket the way Osman Samiuddin, Gul Hameed Bhatti or Agha Akbar were born to do. The right grammar, style, substance and the sporadic grating statement, an avowal leaving people dazed, is what Osman, Bhatti or Agha keep on doing. I am envious of their writing style, the content and expression. I try to drape cricket in decent apparel, using the weight of words to the actions that a cricketer executes. Without a doubt, I have long felt that the writer needs to look upon himself as a performer in much the way the sportsman does.

And one last thing, there are journalists for whom majority of the players have tremendous respect and admiration... there are some they like and trust, some they like but don't trust, a few they trust and don't like... and then there are those they can neither trust nor like. Whatever, we need to understand that we have to stop Pakistan bashing... we shouldn't be putting ourselves above the national interest... it sounds sensible.

 

The writer is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK), official historian of Pakistan cricket, former assistant manager/cricket analyst of the Pakistan team, former media manager/cricket analyst of the PCB, ex-Manager Coordination of the ACC and former selector of the now defunct PCA

 

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