Akram as bowling coach: Need of the hour
seems to have regressed into a poor man's sport
Pakistan hockey's bronze medal win considered a 'debacle' back home
Australia took the field as favourites but could not land the ball on the target, and the issue was settled early in the second half when New Zealand's Tony Ineson scored from a penalty corner to bring about the greatest upset in Olympic history
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
Following the unfortunate memory of Munich in 1972, where Pakistan's hockey players misbehaved and indulged in actions on the winners podium unbecoming of a national side, the stock fell further down at Montreal four years later when they were restricted only to an Olympic Games bronze medal. In the previous Olympiad, hosts West Germany had beaten them in the final, taking the gold and Pakistan were left with bringing home only the silver medal.
It was for the first time, that a team from outside the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent had claimed the Olympic Games hockey gold since India went on their unprecedented winning spree at Amsterdam 1928. Pakistan made their Olympics debut at London 1948 and finished fourth in the hockey event. They occupied the same place in the next Olympiad at Helsinki in 1952.
Since Melbourne 1956, however, in five successive Olympic Games Pakistan took either the gold or the silver medal, standing on top of the champions stand twice -- at Rome in 1960 and Mexico City eight years later.
But they disgraced themselves and the country at Munich where they refused to wear their silver medals around their necks, insulted the judges, International Olympic Committee (IOC) members and doctors aiming to carry out random dope test, turned their backs on the flags being raised at the medal ceremony and showed no respect for the West Germany national anthem.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) came down on them harshly, and no one was really surprised. They put a life ban on the players involved in the hockey final from appearing in any subsequent Olympics and a suspension for the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was quite a distinct possibility. Thankfully, the players' ban was lifted when wiser counsel prevailed, sincere apologies were made and the players were back but not before already having served two years in isolation.
In the intervening four years, between Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976, the Pakistan hockey team had picked up the pieces, bit by bit. Things had started looking up. At least eight players from the Munich Olympiad were chosen again for the event in Canada, but new talent also was emerging as the outfit reappeared from the tatters of the past. The bronze medal at Montreal though was considered a 'debacle' for Pakistan hockey by officials and experts back home.
OFF TO MONTREAL WITH THEIR TAILS UP
Soon after the Munich fiasco, with only Tanvir Dar and Akhtar Rasool available from the 1972 Olympic Games, Pakistan were forced to ask outside-right Khalid Mahmood to come out of retirement and lead the country at the second World Cup event at Amsterdam in 1973. Two years earlier, it was Khalid who was captain when Pakistan won the inaugural World Cup title at Barcelona.
In 1973, Pakistan finished fourth. But with the players' ban finally off, right-in Abdul Rasheed Junior was asked to don the mantle of the team's leadership and he responded well as the side under him won the Seven-Nation Tournament in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1974. Rasheed was captain again when Pakistan picked up yet another gold medal at the Asian Games, when the team beat arch-rivals India 2-1 in the final in Tehran also in the year 1974.
Pakistan won the four-Test rubber 1-0, with three matches drawn, when the Australia team toured here in 1975. But Rasheed was dropped from the Kuala Lumpur-bound team for the 1975 World Cup at the last moment and the captaincy went to outside-right Islahuddin. The 'official' reason given was that Rasheed was injured. In the World Cup final, Pakistan did better than the last time, but India beat them 2-1 in the deciding encounter.
Rasheed was back as captain in the Pre-Olympic Tournament held in Montreal in 1975. The Munich defeat was avenged, as Pakistan defeated West Germany in the final by a 3-2 margin to win the competition. When the West Germany team paid a visit to Pakistan in December of the same year, Pakistan beat the visitors in all three Test matches. So, when they travelled to Montreal for the Olympics, they had their spirits raised and their tails up.
HOCKEY ON AN ARTIFICIAL TURF
According to noted Australian hockey historian and journalist Sydney Friskin: "Olympic hockey was played for the first time on artificial turf at the McGill University ground at Montreal in 1976 and the event soon became notorious for its bizarre results, not the least of which was the 6-1 defeat of India by Australia. The Pakistan team, treading more cautiously, best Belgium easily enough by 5-0 but was held by Spain to a 2-2 draw.
"Pakistan, however, avenged the 1-0 defeat in Munich by defeating West Germany 4-2. At half-time Pakistan led 2-1 with goals by Munawwaruz Zaman from two penalty corners and Reiner Seiffert replying for Germany.
"Manzoorul Hasan increased Pakistan's lead shortly after the interval, but Germany hit back from a penalty stroke converted by Michael Peter. Shahnaz Sheikh made the game safe for Pakistan although further thrills were to come, including a penalty stroke from which Pakistan's reserve goalkeeper Qamar Zia blocked Peter's shot.
"A 4-1 defeat by Spain spelt doom for Germany and put the holders out of the semifinals for which Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Holland qualified. In a game of unbridled nastiness, Australia defeated Pakistan 2-1 in the first semifinal which went into extra time.
"Pakistan started strongly with a goal by Akhtar Rasool in the first minute, but Ron Riley redressed the balance for Australia three minutes before half-time. The winning goal was obtained by Jim Irvine from a penalty corner but not before tempers had become frayed. Shahnaz was seriously injured and had to leave the field, and both Riley and Pakistan's captain Abdul Rasheed were put under temporary suspension.
"In the other semifinal, New Zealand beat Holland 2-1 after a sudden death period of extra time. The scores were tied at 1-1 at the end of normal time and the New Zealanders created sporting history by reaching the final for the first time.
"Australia took the field as favourites but could not land the ball on the target, and the issue was settled early in the second half when Tony Ineson scored from a penalty corner to bring about the greatest upset in Olympic history.
"New Zealand itself had been the focus of attention before the Games started, with African countries staying away in protest against New Zealand's sporting ties with South African rugby. Pakistan gained compensation for their labours by walking off with the bronze medal after an exciting 3-2 victory over Holland."
Abdul Rasheed, playing in his third consecutive Olympiad since 1968, scored a total of 15 goals at this level, only one less than elder brother Abdul Hameed 'Hameedi's 16. Hameedi appeared in four Olympic Games from 1948 to 1960 and captained Pakistan twice, winning silver at Melbourne 1956 and gold at Rome 1960. Rasheed completed the set for the family, picking up a bronze at Montreal 1976 as the team captain.
Rasheed's vice-captain was the magnificent Islahuddin and the other six players retained from Munich 1972 were goalkeeper Saleem Sherwani, left full-back Munawwaruz Zaman, centre-half Akhtar Rasool, left-half Iftikhar Syed, inside-left Shahnaz Sheikh and inside-right Mudassar Asghar.
A welcome addition to the squad was outside-left 'The Flying Horse' Samiullah who, unfortunately, played in only one Olympiad for Pakistan. Other newcomers to the Olympic Games were goalkeeper Qamar Zia, right full-back Manzoorul Hasan, full-back Arshad Mahmood, right half-back Arshad Ali Chaudhry, right or centre-half Saleem Nazim, inside-left Hanif Khan and inside-right Manzoor Hussain.
Full-back Manzoor Hussain Atif, a former Pakistan captain and veteran of four Olympic Games like Hameedi, was back as manager after having served in the same capacity when the team won a gold medal at Mexico City 1968. The coach was right-half Saeed Anwar, who had played in three Olympic Games and was Asad Malik's vice-captain at Munich 1972.
Manzoor Hussain, or Manzoor Junior as he was popularly known, was captain eight years later when Pakistan claimed the gold medal at Los Angeles in 1984. Hanif Khan was his deputy. At Montreal, Hanif was 19 years old and Manzoor was just 18.
OTHER CONTESTANTS HANDICAPPED BY POOR DRAWS
Pakistan sent only two athletes for the track and field events to Montreal. Both suffered due to oversights on part of the country's Olympic officials. Both Mohammad Younus and Mohammad Siddiq had participated at Munich too, not with encouraging results though. In 1976, they were inducted into events they were not even supposed to be taking part in.
Middle-distance runner Younus was the country's outstanding athlete in the 1970s. He had won gold medals in the 800 metres race both at the Iranian Championship in Tehran in 1973 and at the Asian Amateur Championship in Manila later the same year. In the 1,500 metres at the two meets, he had picked up silver medals.
He was at the top of his form at the Asian Games in Tehran in 1974, where he ran the 1,500 metres in a time of 3:49.30 minutes and won the gold medal. Siddiq took the bronze medal in the 800 metres race with a time of 1:48.64 minutes.
Disaster struck both at the Montreal Olympiad. Younis ran in the 800 metres instead of his favourite 1,500 metres and finished seventh and last in his first round heat with a poor time of 1:48.50. He had been trained by a Russian coach for the 1,500 and 5,000 metres events but he came to know only on arrival in Montreal that he had been entered in the 800 metres race. Last-minute efforts were made to change his event but they proved unsuccessful.
Mohammad Siddiq made an unceremonious exit from the 1,500 metres race. He finished ninth and last in his first round heat with a time of 3:45.59 minutes. The international standards had gone so high that the man who finished first in this particular heat, Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan, could only end fourth in the final with a time of 3:39.51.
When boxer Siraj Din won a walkover in the middleweight quarter-final, as the two boxers had left for home following the boycott of the Olympic Games by the African nations, he should have reached the semifinals. He would have earned a bronze medal even if he had lost at that stage.
But the draws were rearranged. Siraj did not get a medal as he had fractured his hand and was not in a position to box. Surprisingly, Siraj was sent in the ring for reasons known only to his manager (Brigadier Qasim) for his next bout. Siraj fought bravely in the first round in spite of his injury but could not match the super fit Soviet Rufat Riskiev in the second round and was knocked out. Riskiev went on to win the silver medal.
Weightlifter Mohammad Arshad Malik, making his second appearance at the Olympics, again met with disastrous results as he finished last in the middleweight category. Mohammad Manzoor did slightly better by ending at 11th spot out of 17 lifters in the bantamweight contest.
Wrestler Allah Ditta, who also took part in Munich 1972, was easily eliminated yet again. Heavyweight Salahuddin won his first round bout against Mongolia's Dashdorj Tserentogtokh. He lagged behind in the first round but recovered to win the next two rounds. He was disposed of in his next two bouts though.
LAUNCHING PAD FOR NADIA COMANECI
The 1976 Olympic Games were the dream of Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau. Without any financial guarantees from the federal government -- something unheard of these days -- Drapeau convinced the Olympic establishment that Canada and Montreal were up for the challenge ahead of Los Angeles and Moscow, who were in the midst of a Cold War campaign.
With an unfinished stadium, two 15-year-olds -- Sandra Henderson and Stephane Prefontaine -- carried the torch into the infield to ignite the cauldron which officially opened the Games on July 17. Years later, the two were married.
The Games were not without controversy. More than twenty African nations decided to boycott the Olympics in protest of New Zealand's national rugby team touring South Africa which robbed the track and field competition of some of its best competitors.
Women's events were included for the first time in basketball, rowing and team handball.
The Games were also the launching pad for 14-year-old gymnast Nadia Comaneci of Romania, who caused a sensation when, for her performance on the uneven bars, she was awarded the first-ever perfect score of 10.0. She eventually earned seven 10.0s.
On the men's side, Japan's Shun Fujimoto broke his leg while completing his floor exercises routine. The Japanese team was engaged in a close contest with the Soviet Union, so Fujimoto kept his injury secret. But when he dismounted from the rings, he dislocated his knee and was forced to withdraw.
Other individual stars included Klaus Dibiasi of Italy, who won his third straight gold medal in platform diving; Viktor Saneyev of Soviet Georgia, who won his third triple jump gold; and Irena Szewinska of Poland, winner of the 400m run, who brought her career total to seven medals -- in five different events.
Alberto Juantorena of Cuba put together the first 400-800 metres double victory. Miklos Nemeth of Hungary won the javelin throw to become the first son of an athletics gold medallist to win a gold of his own. His father, Imre, had won the hammer throw in 1948.
Clarence Hill of Bermuda earned a bronze medal in boxing's super-heavyweight division to give Bermuda the honour of being the least populous nation ever to win a medal in the Summer Olympics.
The Montreal Olympics also marked the first time that an athlete from the host nation failed to win a gold medal. Canada finished with 11 medals -- five silver and six bronze.
Canada has hosted two Olympic Games and is one of seven countries to have hosted both a Summer and Winter Games, 1976 -- Montreal and 1988 -- Calgary.
In spite of producing 32 world records and a host of memorable performances, the 1976 Games drew more attention to the apparent problems of the Olympic movement. Twenty-six countries, mostly from Africa, chose to boycott the Games when the IOC denied their request to ban New Zealand, whose national rugby team had recently toured South Africa.
Taiwan also boycotted, when Canada, which officially recognised the People's Republic of China, would not permit Taiwan to be identified at the Games as the Republic of China. Questions arose about the integrity of the competition itself. Many athletes -- particularly the East German women swimmers -- were suspected of using anabolic steroids to enhance their performance. There was also concern that the amateur spirit of the Games had been undermined by the growing commercial influence on sports in the West and the pervasive government control of athletes in the Eastern bloc countries.
The Montreal Games were a financial disaster, placing a burden of debt on the people of Canada and Quebec that lasted for decades.
Still 92 countries participated. There were 6,084 athletes -- 1,260 women and 4,824 men -- and 198 events were held in 21 sports. The 1976 Summer Olympics were officially known as the Games of the XXI Olympiad.
Nadia Comaneci of Romania scored seven perfect 10s and won three gold medals, including the prestigious All Around. The score board could hold only three digits and the score was shown as 1.00.
Five American boxers -- Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr -- won gold medals in boxing. This has been often called the greatest Olympic boxing team the United States ever had, and, out of the five American gold medallists in boxing, all but Davis went on to become professional world champions.
Soviet Union ended as the top medal-winning nation with a tally of 125, that included 49 gold, 41 silver and 35 bronze. East Germany were second with 90 medals (40 gold) and United States third with a total of 94, which included 35 gold medals.
The other top ten nations were: West Germany 39 (10-12-17), Japan 25 (9-6-10), Poland 26 (7-6-13), Bulgaria 22 (6-9-7), Cuba 13 (6-4-3), Romania 27 (4-9-14) and Hungary 22 (4-5-13).
NEXT WEEK: Pakistan at 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles
The writer is Group Editor Sports of 'The News'
PAKISTAN AT 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES: ALL RESULTS
800 metres: Round 1 heat 1 Mohammad Younus 1:48.50min 7th out of 7
1500 metres: Round 1 heat 1 Mohammad Siddiq 3:45.59min 9th out of 9
Flyweight (51kg): 1/32 final bye. 1/16 final Mohammad Sadiq lost to Giovanni Camputaro (Italy) on points
Middleweight (75kg): 1/16 final Siraj Din beat Nicolas Arredondo (Mexico) RSC in third round, 1/8 final won by walkover (1/16 final between Zimbabwe's Pierre Lotti Mwale and Kenya's Zakaria Amalemba was not contested), 1/4 final lost to Rufat Riskiev (USSR) KO in second round
Pool B: Pakistan beat Belgium 5-0 (half-time 1-0), drew with Spain 2-2 (h-t 1-1), beat West Germany 4-2 (h-t 2-1), beat New Zealand 5-2 (h-t 4-1). Pakistan topped Pool B 4 played, 3 won, one drawn, GF 16, GA 6, points 7. Semifinals Pakistan lost to Australia 2-1 (h-t 1-1). Match for the 3rd place Pakistan beat Holland 3-2 (h-t 1-1). Pakistan won the bronze medal
Bantamweight (56kg): Mohammad Manzoor snatch 95.0kg, clean and jerk 130.0kg, total 225.0kg 11th out of 17
Middleweight (75kg): Mohammad Arshad Malik snatch 122.5kg, clean and jerk 160.0kg, total 282.5kg 15th out of 15
Up to 57kg: Round 1 Allah Ditta lost to Joe Corso (USA) on points 20:8, round 2 lost to Masao Arai (Japan) by fall
Up to 90kg: Round 1 Salahuddin beat Dashdorj Tserentogtokh (Mongolia) by fall, round 2 lost to Pawel Kurczewski (Poland) by fall, round 3 lost to Keijo Manni (Finland) by fall
PAKISTAN WON A BRONZE MEDAL
It's the familiar sinking feeling as always
One of the selectors had tried to convince Lawson that with Shoaib Malik, Fawad Alam and Shahid Afridi in line, Amjad was not really required. Then where the heck Ajmal could fit in
By Dr Nauman Niaz
First of all, Saleem Altaf's recent television appearance after removal from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was an enterprising attempt to reveal the false and mischievous happenings that have left our cricket dumbstruck. Altaf, the ex-Director Cricket Operations and subsequently Director Special Projects, tried to highlight the confusions that the present set-up has created or managed to create. And rightly, we are confused.
Despite winning in Dhaka in Bangladesh, the Pakistan team has had a massive paralysis and is now mere putty in the hands of anyone who has a gumption and a warped mind. Behind the scenes, the grinning countenance of a brick-layer but hardly pragmatic hierarchy of the PCB looms much unlike their predecessors. Seeing people taking decisions and then backing them up with useless arguments compels one to believe that the Lord indeed does work His wonders in mysterious ways.
But who really are the people bugging the offices and tapping the telephones, running a cricket organisation like the MI4. One thing gaining popularity is that they come from an ancient galaxy called the Dark Ages and wandering through space, having run out of darkness arrived here. Having landed, they demanded they be taken to powerful offices. They unhinged and unrestrained could seize absolute power and then abuse it. They had all the reasons to do that since merit had already been hijacked and there was plentiful opportunities left unattended to be explored and used for self-service, if not for cricket's real gain.
The management took over as for the bilge of cleaning up cricket, establishing merit, eliminating vice, reinforcing virtue and breaking into incessant victories: give us a break. We are having a bad year as it is and far too busy praying for our deadly sins.
The PCB spent the first year hiring a large army and now into the middle of the second they are exhausting their energies to bug and tap, fire and sack people, those who were not submitting themselves as required. But this is now a hallowed tradition -- whatever the disaster, punish the unlike minded, the guys at the highest rung of the grease pole but those who see their conscience pricking at odd times. The games of snakes and ladders where venomous snakes far outnumber the ladders proceeds at a frenzied speed and midnight speculations of heavens being created with a budget little over three billion rupees being approved (20% more than last year).
There seems absolute darkness except the three selectors picking up Saeed Ajmal, an uncapped off-spinner on the Pakistan team. By the look of it seems to be a beacon in a shrinking environment. An off-spinner who is both accurate and penetrative, Saeed Ajmal is a 30-year-old slow bowler who has played most of his cricket for his native Faisalabad and Khan Research Laboratories in Rawalpindi. Since his debut in 1996-97, he has improved tremendously.
Ajmal's start to first-class cricket was brilliant, picking up four wickets on debut and a massive haul of seven in an innings in only his second game. Like most of the off-spinners, he has had problems with his action, often condemned for while bowling a straighter one, a floater or a doosra. Why shouldn't Pakistan have a high quality spinner? Where is it written anyway and even if it is, so what?
Even spookier is the small news line tucked between heavy duty sermons washed down by the gallons of lies which reveal that even as we all moan and hold our heads in our hands, as it is claimed by the chief selector that Pakistan's progress would be smooth. With the magicians weaving spells, chanting mantras, sticking needles in the body politic and burning voodoo incense, anything is possible. Hail Caesar.
Who is this lad Saeed Ajmal? When the PCB's selection committee reached Lahore to announce the probable(s) for the Asia Cup, they intended to name a 15-member squad. With the three selectors in place, captain Shoaib Malik was missing. He had excused himself on telephone that he could only reach the venue in half an hour. Nevertheless, the session was dominated by the presence of Geoff Lawson, the team's coach.
The selectors had already taken a decision dropping Kamran Akmal. How apt the selectors could be, with Chairman PCB criticising Akmal in an e-mail that was leaked in the media before it could reach the team management in Bangladesh, they included Sarfraz Ahmad. Lawson wanted Mansoor Amjad. When told that Amjad hadn't performed creditably in domestic cricket recently, he regressed into quietness. One of the selectors had tried to convince Lawson that with Shoaib Malik, Fawad Alam and Shahid Afridi in line, Amjad was not really required. Then where the heck Ajmal could fit in.
Malik arrived and immediately demanded the inclusion of Saeed Ajmal. Like others, Lawson seemed shocked. When resisted, Malik threatened to see the Chairman. Salahuddin, as he is allowed Malik to go and look for the blessed doctor sahib -- he couldn't find him. Meanwhile, Mudassar Nazar was called in. And the selectors argued about how Saeed had been sidelined for having a suspect action.
Mudassar cleared the air reinforcing the fact that now his action had been corrected under Tauseef Ahmed, a high quality off-spinner of his times. Ironically, the selectors were skeptical since Salahuddin and Shafqat Rana claimed they hadn't seen Ajmal bowl. It was irksome, the selectors showing complete apathy, not doing the job they were being paid to do.
Only Saleem Jaffer, the conscientious former Pakistan fast bowler, had seen Saeed bowl in first-class cricket. Lawson later said that the selectors should have known everyone playing domestic matches. It was because of this that a twenty-member squad was picked instead of the intended fifteen.
The selectors subsequently saw Saeed bowling at Karachi and later picked him on the team. Saeed should thank Saleem Jaffer. In the first session on day one, Ajmal had tried to bowl on middle and leg and over the wicket. He looked very ordinary. Later in the evening Jaffer had questioned him about why he was bowling flat and on middle and leg. He was prompt to say that Malik had asked him to maintain the length he had tried to keep to restrict Gatuam Gambir and Virender Sewhag, if picked to play.
Jaffer advised him to prove his worth bowling round the wicket and with more penetration. The second day, coming round he was impeccable. Ajmal was only chosen on the Pakistan team after Malik argued that he needed a high quality spinner. About Abdul Rahman, Malik had reservations being a left-arm bowler. He required an off-spinner to run through India's packed left-handed middle order. To Mansoor Amjad's good luck, Sohail Khan, the fast bowler was struck by Malaria. He was not available. Malik and Lawson both got their choices and everything looked as cute as a baby's bottom.
Born on October 14, 1977 at Faisalabad, Saeed Ajmal has represented KRL, Islamabad, Federal Areas, Faisalabad and WAPDA in first-class cricket. In 72 first-class matches he has picked up 232 wickets at 27.51 with 15 5wI hauls. He is also a reasonable tail-ender boasting a highest of 53 scored in adverse conditions.
In 91 List A matches he has picked 130 wickets at 26.80 with the best of 5-18. He has also picked up 27 wickets in T20 cricket at 18.40, showing he could be tight in tighter conditions.
All this has been re-entry blues and like a space craft venturing back to earth and finding themselves on fire from the friction created, so has been arriving back from another world and landing early morning at a spooky and deserted airport in Lahore where the crows outnumber the aircraft a thousand to one.
Saeed's arrival is one of brightness but at 30 he looks late in the arrival lounge. The manner in which he has been chosen on the team reinforces that familiar sinking feeling.
The matter of the fact is that having talent in abundance is one thing; and spotting it and then polishing the same into a gem is totally another
By Gul Nasreen
There is no denying the fact that Pakistan is rich in bowling talent and has produced world class bowlers, who have left a mark on the cricket world. However, in recent years it has been noticed that in spite of immense talent and class, Pakistan bowlers particularly pacers lack in what is said to be the essence of bowling i.e. good line and length.
They rather damn care how important it is to have rhythm in one's bowling and to bowl a good line and length. Consistency is also absent from their form and approach to the game. Fitness problems and most sadly controversies and disciplinary complaints have also increasingly been cropping up against the main pacers, who seem to be out of 'track' for reasons that need to be taken serious notice of.
In order to bring them back on track, to take the best out of them and to inculcate in them the right approach to bowling, it has become imperative for the PCBwallas to appoint someone of the calibre of former pacer Wasim Akram as a bowling coach on a long term basis.
In the backdrop of the prevailing chaos over the pace department of our national team, one would welcome the recent statements of the PCB chief Dr Nasim Ashraf and former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, in which the former has expressed his desire regarding Wasim's appointment as a bowling coach and the latter's willingness to 'consider' and 'think over' the offer.
Though the proposed appointment of former Pakistan captain and king of 'Killer Yorker' Wasim as bowling coach will be a belated decision yet a welcome move as he can ensure to make a sense out of the prevailing confusion in the fast bowling department.
The matter of the fact is that having talent in abundance is one thing; and spotting it and then polishing the same into a gem is totally another. The irony is that we boast of the immense talent, but are averse to the importance of grooming the same. 'Practice maketh a man perfect' and as such we all agree on the importance of good training in all fields of life including sports.
Keeping that in mind, one would agree with Akram, who was recently quoted to have said at the coaching camp at Gadsafi Stadium, "A specialised camp for fast bowlers helps in polishing the skills and technique of the fast bowlers and after practice some talented bowlers used to come to the surface with such camps".
It may be mentioned here that Wasim had the rare ability to strike at the right moment of the game. His ability to take the game out of the hands of the opponents and turn it into Pakistan's favour through his wicket-taking capabilities was what made a legend of him. He used to be not only clinical and economical but also tactful in his approach and used to apply mind and keep his nerves under control under pressure.
Just imagine, he was a chronic diabetic yet he managed the ailment so well to not to let it affect his game. He had to change his lifestyle and had to cut on his luxuries and also cut short his bowling run-up to come to terms with his health requirements, but he did it all in style, setting an example for players 'who are prone to fitness problems' to follow.
On the contrary, the current crop of our bowlers has let fitness problems prevail over their careers, affecting their game badly and rendering them useless for the team at times when it matters the most. They really need someone like Wasim to let them learn the art of overcoming one's shortcomings in a way to make themselves dependable members of the squad.
Wasim, when part of the team, was not only the match winner but tournament winner in the real sense of the word. His contribution to Pakistan's win in the 1992 World Cup was immense and unforgettable. His 'killer yorker' was what made him the most dreaded figure among the opponents' camp. Consistency in form and approach to the game, which is now totally missing from the Pakistan pacers play, was the hallmark of his performance all through the years.
The irony is that the current crop of Pakistan pacers are depicting a very disappointing scenario. In spite of being capable, they are unable to deliver under pressure, which is the key to success on the ground. Looking at the latest outings, one finds most of them missing the real touch. While some lack the killer instinct, others are unable to utilise the same.
And sadly, there are still few who are out of the track on fitness grounds, disciplinary reasons and have been imbroiled in all sorts of controversies, much to the loss of the national team. Just take the example of the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), where our fast bowlers except for the new find Sohail Tanvir, did not emerge as a force to reckon with.
The Rawalpindi Express embarked on a 'hare-like' swift start but soon derailed in his third outing and ended with a 'pygmy-like' approach, quoting fitness problems. Mohammad Asif also played so-so in the IPL and while returning home caused the entire nation an embarrassment when he was stopped at Dubai Airport for allegedly carrying 'banned substances' in his luggage.
All these 'mishaps' on the pacers' front both on and off-the-field need to be taken serious notice of and handled properly as they are gnawing at the roots of the pace department and rendering the national team helpless.
It is worth-mentioning here that in the past Wasim had declined a coaching stint offer, but now he has hinted at accepting the same. One would advise the PCB chief to soon personally offer him the bowling coach's job once again in the larger interest of Pakistan cricket. One hopes that the latter's 'feedback' will be positive this time.
We know that the former all-rounder is busy with his commitments as a commentator on TV but definitely he should take some time out to give back to cricket that made him a legendary figure and earned him worldwide name and fame.
It may also be mentioned here that Wasim's deecrators are of the view that though a legendary figure Wasim might not be able to be a good coach. However, they are not right in their assumption as Akram has already impressed with his coaching abilities through his shorter stints at the coaching camps, where he has been able to spot the talent to a certain extent.
His detractors must know that Sohail Tanvir, who has put up a good show in the IPL and is also well set to add fire to the pace battery of the team in the future, is also Akram's find. As such one should not question the former Test captain's capabilities and potential to spot, judge and explore the hidden talent and provide the national team pace department with a good back up.
Hockey seems to have regressed into a poor man's sport
The hockey players have time and again complained over the shabby treatment which was meted out to them whenever they succeeded in bringing laurels to this country in the past
By Muhammad Akram Chohan
There is great concern in the masses over the recent performances of the Pakistan hockey team.
Due to the continuous decline in the standard of hockey in our country, an ardent hockey lover is thinking on the lines about what are the real reasons of these poor performances and what should be the future line of action to rectify the prevailing situation.
If one goes through the affairs of Pakistan hockey, it becomes very clear that in comparison to the past, there are youngsters in very small numbers who take interest in playing hockey even as a hobby.
That's why they are least interested in taking up this game as a profession. There is no answer to the queries which a youngster is having regarding his future if he starts playing hockey as a hobby as a first step.
Hockey, which is our national game, has been neglected very ruthlessly by not only its federation but it was given lukewarm response by the government circles too whenever a need had arisen to look into the affairs of the sport.
The result is that today this beautiful game of hockey is on the brink of destruction due to infighting among its top hierarchy and continuous intervention from the government circles just to entertain their near and dear ones in achieving the top slots for their own sake.
The hockey players have time and again complained over the shabby treatment which was meted out to them whenever they succeeded in bringing laurels to this country in the past.
They were never given their due share of respect, acknowledgement, encouragement and reward in comparison to the players of cricket who were always in complete contrast to their fellow countrymen as far as the media and government attention is concerned.
After winning the Austral-Asia Cup in 1986 and the cricket World Cup in 1992, cricket players were made to feel like prince and subsequently rewarded with mouth watering cash and other prizes, like commercial plots in posh areas of the country, whereas the victorious Pakistan side of the hockey World Cup 1982 could not become the centre of attraction after its heroic triumph.
They were given plots in return to this extraordinary performance of theirs in a deserted area of interior Sindh which was really a shameful act on part of the concerned authorities.
To make matters worse, when the national hockey team clinched the coveted titles of the Champions Trophy and World Cup in the same year of 1994, they were once again overlooked by the concerned quarters of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), the Ministry of Sports in particular and the Government in general.
Due to this behavior, hockey players of that time came to the conclusion that they have not been treated fairly and thus they felt really discouraged and dismayed.
It is human nature that one definitely expects appreciation and acknowledgement after doing anything significant but to the sheer bad luck of our hockey team, they were never treated in a befitting manner after making a name for their country.
Due to continuous negligence of the concerned authorities, an ordinary person stopped taking interest in this game which becomes evident if one visits any of the matches which the Pakistan team plays against any country except the Indians.
A common person realised that this game is not very popular in the corridors of power and that's why youngsters opted against joining this game as a hobby which is one of the prime reasons of the decline of game in our country.
One more reason for this poor state of affairs is that the persons who were taking care of the game, restricted hockey to one particular region of Gojra in the Faisalsabad region.
The game of squash also faced the same fate as it was also restricted to just one area or caste.
Wrestling is also going through the same situation due to the same reason by keeping this game confined to just one family.
So the need of the hour is that hockey should be taken cared of by serious technocrats with a team of professional having a deep inside desire for the revival of this national game which is unfortunately in the hands of feudals, who know just to safeguard his personal benefit and ego thus making the PHF a laughing stock in the world hockey fraternity.
The game should be commercialised gradually for the masses and the youngsters' interest so the players and common man could come to watch/play the game accordingly.
It has been observed that today when a youngster starts playing cricket, he faces least opposition from his parents in comparison to yesteryear as the parents have realised that if their son succeeds in even playing domestic cricket, his future is secure as he would get a decent job in return for his services as a cricket playing professional.
In addition to this, two or three years later he would definitely be in the line for the English cricket leagues just strengthening his financial status.
This should be applied in hockey too so the parents never discourage their sons in taking up this game as a profession, then we would be able to set dreams in our eyes for the revival of this game in the near future otherwise the game will definitely face the same situation as is the case with squash, wrestling,snooker and tennis these days in our country.