cricket
Nine months of pain and agony for Team Pakistan
Pakistan have long suffered controversies and depressing circumstances and they wouldn't want them to continue. They'll seek a better future and after Woolmer's death and Inzamam's retirement, they surely need one
By Muhammad Shahbaz Zahid
Welcome to the world of controversies, hypocrisy and mediocrity. Oops, sorry! I was supposed to mention Pakistan cricket team here; went in the direction of the wrong track perhaps. But flip the coin; see the other side of it and you will feel I wasn't wrong anyways.

Bob Woolmer, a fresh addition to unnatural cricketing deaths
Hylton was hanged for the murder of his wife in 1955. He is the only Test cricketer known to have been executed. It was later known that Hylton was not satisfied with the character of his wife
By Ghalib Mehmood Bajwa
Man is mortal and every one of us has to die at a specific time. Majority of human beings die through natural ways while several others suffer accidental, criminal and other unusual deaths in daily life. Similarly, the cricket world being no exception, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer's mysterious murder on March 18 in a Kingston hotel following Pakistan's shocking defeat against outsiders Ireland in the first round of World Cup 2007 is the latest instance when a Test cricketer suffered an unnatural death.

cricket
Pakistan cricket: Will it ever be alive again?
In striving for maximum commitment and eradicating the potential for failure, and ironically they had not even been plucky in defeat. Inzamam's tenure as captain only stopped on the journey and not the final destination
By Dr Nauman Niaz
Australia's unprecedented success is a benchmark. I'm guessing, and recent Australian performances would appear to back me up here, that the failure they refer to in increasing the potential for failure is not necessarily the same failure that other, less successful cricketing nations like Pakistan refer to and strive to avoid. Australian failure is not winning the failure Pakistan fear is losing. It follows then that Australia are never there for a plucky defeat, nor they are there for a podium finish, they are there to win.

Master leg-spinner Anil Kumble decides to call it a day
'I didn't expect anything less than the best from him, Anil never let us down,' these remarks were given by Rahul Dravid for his team's record breaking leg-spinner Anil Kumble some years ago
By Khurram Mahmood
"I didn't expect anything less than the best from him, Anil never let us down," these remarks were given by Rahul Dravid for his team's record breaking leg-spinner Anil Kumble some years ago when he was vice-captain of the Indian side. But for quite sometime Kumble had been sidelined from the One-day International matches.



cricket

Nine months of pain and agony for Team Pakistan

Pakistan have long suffered controversies and depressing circumstances and they wouldn't want them to continue. They'll seek a better future and after Woolmer's death and Inzamam's retirement, they surely need one

By Muhammad Shahbaz Zahid

Welcome to the world of controversies, hypocrisy and mediocrity. Oops, sorry! I was supposed to mention Pakistan cricket team here; went in the direction of the wrong track perhaps. But flip the coin; see the other side of it and you will feel I wasn't wrong anyways.

Team Pakistan's miserable run in the international scene just came to an end a few days back, thankfully. The drama unfolded when Pakistan were knocked out of the World Cup -- after defeats against the hosts West Indies and minnows Ireland.

Things went from bad to worse when their coach -- Bob Woolmer -- was found unconscious in his hotel room and was later pronounced dead. Police involved in the investigation have termed his death as a murder and are still searching for the executioner. Then Pakistan's captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, gave up his captaincy role which he should have done a bit earlier.

Team Pakistan have endured controversies every now and then for the last nine months or so. They haven't reached their peak yet and supposedly have been blamed for their down fall over this period.

Things started to go against them when they toured England in August, 2006. It was there when Pakistan's real downfall started.

In their fourth and final Test match at The Oval, against the hosts, they forfeited the match after being alleged for tampering the ball by umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove. Consequences: Pakistan lost the match and the Test series 3-0; became the first team in the history of the game to forfeit a Test; were also imposed a five-run penalty earlier in the match for altering the state of the ball.

The next month, September 2006, saw the theme continued when their captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, was banned for four One-day Internationals (ODIs) for The Oval incident for brining the game into disrepute. Consequence: Though Inzamam was cleared of ball-tampering charges, his four-match ban made him miss the matches of the Champions Trophy in India (Trophy was held in October and November the same year).

October was no different for the team. Inzamam's deputy at that time, Younis Khan, who thought he'd be a dummy captain, stepped down as the interim skipper for the Champions Trophy. He also protested against the attitude of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials.

That resulted in the resignation of the PCB chief at that time, Shaharyar Khan. He (Shaharyar) explained his stepping down from the post as a result of The Oval Test fiasco and Younis's decision to take up the captaincy role.

The government then got into the act quickly announcing Nasim Ashraf as the new PCB chief. Somehow, the new PCB chairman convinced Younis to be the captain of the national side for the Champions Trophy. Younis, who was so arrogant and conceited before suddenly made a u-turn and went against his decision he had made a few days back. Pretty diplomatic that scenario was.

But October didn't stop here.

On the eve of their opening match in the Champions Trophy, Pakistan send home pacers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif after they tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. And after Inzamam's absence from the tournament, this was surely a big jolt for the team. Pakistan's chances of winning the Champions Trophy, which were already slim, got even slimmer.

November started and the next episode, a pretty predictable one, was illustrated.

The world's faster bowler Shoaib, after being tested positive, was handed a two-year ban by a PCB tribunal while Asif, whose career had just started to blossom, was banned to play cricket for a year. The reason they were banned -- obviously they were tested positive and secondly, they also were found guilty of doping offences. Phew! Both the players, though, launched appeals against their bans then.

The month of December saw Shoaib and Asif being cleared by the PCB and their bans were scrapped. An appeal committee formed by the PCB cleared the pacers of any wrongdoing though the bowlers themselves had admitted of taking nandrolone.

This saw the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) go into a rage and they took up the case with the International Cricket Council (ICC) after stating that the appeals commission's (of the PCB) decision to clear Shoaib and Asif to play appeared to be unreasonable and it was a violation of the anti-doping code.

In January, Pakistan lost their away-Test series 1-2 to South Africa which added more misery to their ever growing problems.

With the World Cup just a few weeks ahead, Pakistan announced their squad in February which included Shoaib and Asif pending the passing of their fitness and doping tests. Their 15-man squad to participate in the World Cup faced more criticism and the selection committee was condemned to include players who were short of match practice, were not fit, had disciplinary problems and facing life bans if found guilty again for doping offences.

But there was another twist in the tale in March when Shoaib and Asif were withdrawn from the World Cup squad the same day they were due to fly for the Caribbean. The PCB in a statement said that the players, who weren't present in Pakistan at that moment, hadn't fully recovered from injury.

But there were rumours that the players' bodies still contained nandrolone and that was the reason why they didn't gave their dope test which was necessary for all the players and didn't go to World Cup and made excuse that they were not fully fit.

All this also happened because the ICC chief had earlier, on the same day, issued a statement that the bowlers (Shoaib and Asif) could face targeted dope tests as soon as they arrive in West Indies.

An under strength Pakistan side went to play in the World Cup without their pacers. They were already without Abdul Razzaq who was out with an injury. Shahid Afridi, who was in the squad, was to miss Pakistan's starting two matches -- against the West Indies and Ireland -- because of an ICC ban which he was imposed on the tour of South Africa when he deliberately waved his bat at a spectator in an angry gesture.

Pakistan, who were now the underdogs to win the World Cup, suffered defeat in their first match where there batting line-up completely collapsed. It was assumed before the start of the tournament that Pakistan would fail to cope up with the loss of their star pacers (Shoaib and Asif) and all-rounder Razzaq but in their match against the Windies their star-studded world class batting line-up performed poorly and couldn't chase a meagre total on pitch that looked easy for batting.

Worst was to follow when Pakistan were knocked out of the tournament by debutants Ireland. It was one of the most shocking results and arguably the greatest upset in World Cup history.

Pakistan along with the whole cricketing world were shocked one day after their defeat to Ireland when there coach, Bob Woolmer, was found unconscious in his hotel room and was later pronounced dead after taken to a hospital. It was a big loss for cricket and indeed for Pakistan. More shocking news arrived a few days later when Woolmer's death was termed as a murder with investigations still being carried on. Police involved in the murder inquiry said Woolmer was strangled to death and could have been a victim of a betting mafia.

Inzamam also announced his retirement from one-dayers -- after Woolmer's death -- and also stepped down from the captaincy role. Inzamam, though, has wished to continue playing in Test matches.

Team Pakistan though announced that they'd pay Woolmer respect by winning their last match in the World Cup -- against Zimbabwe. Inzamam had earlier announced that this would be his last one-day match and he wanted to retire from the one-day arena on a winning note and to present Woolmer his respect. Pakistan though won emphatically but that wasn't enough.

After that, Pakistan players, regarding Woolmer murder were questioned by the Jamaican Police and were kept under investigation. Few question marks were also raised that one or few players of the Pakistan team could've murdered Woolmer. Inzamam, Mushtaq Ahmed (bowling coach) among others were treated as prime suspects. Team Pakistan stayed in the Caribbean for a few more days and then made their trip back to their homeland. They made a low-profile return back to Pakistan with few opting to stay in London and Dubai on their way back.

However, they had to face the music after returning back to Pakistan and fans greeted them harshly along with other people (mostly former players) who criticised them severely.

It has been nine months now since that Oval incident and April seem to be containing more controversies for Team Pakistan as well.

The PCB have made a performance evaluation committee which will probe into Pakistan's World Cup debacle and have till now questioned most of the team players and officials.

The question which was raised after Woolmer's death and Inzamam's stepping down from the captaincy role was who'll become the new captain and the coach. But the answer still hasn't been figured out yet.

There was a strong speculation that Younis Khan would take over the captain's armband but again, as he did before the Champions Trophy last year in India, he has decided against filling in Inzamam's shoes.

Younis thinks if he is to become the next captain of the national side, he wants all the powers that Inzamam had in his tenure and wants all the decisions to go his way. He wants to keep the authority and wants things under his control. This surely has added up to Pakistan's ever-growing struggle to find a good leader.

On the other hand, there are other options as well with players who are considered capable enough to captain Pakistan.

There is Mohammad Yousuf, a world class batsman, but he wouldn't be liked in the post by some circles. Recently, Pakistan have been criticised of an overdose of religious activities in the team with not much attention to cricket and Yousuf is certainly one of those people who have been seen emphasising much on religion than cricketing affairs. Although practising religion is the most important aspect but one has got to look after his job as well.

Then there is Shoaib Malik, the all-rounder. He has led his city side in domestic competitions and looks like to have a good head on his shoulders. But with more senior players in the side, his chances of taking over the captaincy role look slim.

Some people have even suggested Shoaib Akhtar's name to fill in the post. May be they are right that Pakistan need a captain aggressive in approach and knows how to deal with the external and internal matters of the team. But then, Shoaib's place in the team is never for sure so how can the management give him such important task. May be it will create for problems for the team.

The PCB have announced that they'll announce the new captain and coach for the team on 7th May. Let's hope that their decision, this time, works out for the betterment of the team. Pakistan have long suffered controversies and depressing circumstances and they wouldn't want them to continue. They'll seek a better future and after Woolmer's death and Inzamam's retirement, they surely need one.

 

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

[email protected]


Bob Woolmer, a fresh addition to unnatural cricketing deaths

Hylton was hanged for the murder of his wife in 1955. He is the only Test cricketer known to have been executed. It was later known that Hylton was not satisfied with the character of his wife

 

By Ghalib Mehmood Bajwa

Man is mortal and every one of us has to die at a specific time. Majority of human beings die through natural ways while several others suffer accidental, criminal and other unusual deaths in daily life. Similarly, the cricket world being no exception, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer's mysterious murder on March 18 in a Kingston hotel following Pakistan's shocking defeat against outsiders Ireland in the first round of World Cup 2007 is the latest instance when a Test cricketer suffered an unnatural death.

Woolmer led an adventurous and unique life. He started his life in Kanpur, India, grew in England, then settled in South Africa and finally died in the West Indies. In his playing and professional career, he continued to travel from one place to another throughout his life. Bob played his Test cricket for England, then commenced his coaching with Warwickshire County before joining South Africa as Head Coach in 1994. He also served ICC on a key post and finally accepted Pakistan's challenging coaching job in 2004.

Though, it has been confirmed that Woolmer's death occurred through a manual strangulation, the ICC, Caribbean and other international investigators still could not find the exact killers and time of his death, even four weeks after the fatal incident. Overall Woolmer was the 22nd Test cricketer who suffered an unusual death (excluding those who were killed in wars) and the fourth murdered cricketer in the 130-year old Test history. Leslie Hylton of Windies is the only Test cricketer known to have been executed while four Test cricketers committed suicide in different circumstances.

Pakistan's brave Test cricketer Wasim Hasan Raja also met with a very rare death though it was not accidental. It may be recalled here that Raja is probably the second Test player (after Wilf Slack) who breathed his last while playing cricket. He collapsed and died of a heart attack last year while playing cricket for Surrey over-50s at High Wycombe, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The lion hearted Raja had a 'love affair with the figure 50' throughout his life and career. The figure '50' is reflecting on as many as 14 occasions in his life.

Raja was born in 1952 in Multan and died while playing an over-50s match aged 54 years 51 days. In his playing career, Raja appeared in 57 Tests, 54 ODIs and 250 first-class matches. He remained unbeaten 54 times and grabbed 156 catches in his first-class career. In List A matches, Raja's batting average was 23.53. In the bowling department, again the figure 50 remained attached to Raja. He captured 51 Test wickets and his best bowling performance in an innings was 4-50. His bowling in first-class was even more impressive as he took 558 wickets.

His finest hour in Test cricket was the tour to the West Indies in 1976-77, when he topped the Pakistani batting averages with 517 runs at 57.4.

 

Following is the detail of Test cricketers who were murdered or killed through unusual and unnatural ways.

 

MURDEROUS DEATHS

Robert Andrew Woolmer (Eng 19 Tests, 6 ODIs): Born May 14, 1948, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. Died March 18, 2007, Kingston University Hospital, Jamaica, West Indies (aged 58 years 308 days). Major teams England, Kent, Natal, Western Province. Test debut England v Australia at Lord's 1975, last Test England v Australia at Lord's 1981.

David Hookes (Aus 23 Tests, 39 ODIs): Hookes died of head injuries after a brawl outside a Melbourne pub in 2004. There were claims that it was murder, but the charge that was brought was manslaughter and the person charged was found not guilty.

Tertius Bosch (SA 1 Test): Bosch died in mysterious circumstances at the age of 33 in February 2000. His only Test appearance came in South Africa's first Test back in the fold, at Bridgetown in 1991-92. He apparently died of a rare viral infection, but 18 months later his body was exhumed and a post mortem suggested he might have been poisoned. It later emerged that Bosch had had his wife followed, after suspecting her of infidelity.

Jeffrey Baxter Stollmeyer (WI 32 Tests): He died in a Florida hospital as a result of being shot five times and beaten about the head by intruders to his Port-of-Spain home in 1989. His wife and son also were injured in the attack. He captained Windies in 13 Tests.

Leslie George Hylton (WI 6 Tests): Hylton was hanged for the murder of his wife in 1955. He is the only Test cricketer known to have been executed. It was later known that Hylton was not satisfied with the character of his wife.

 

SUICIDAL DEATHS

David Leslie Bairstow (Eng 4 Tests, 21 ODIs): He was found hanged at his home on January 5, 1998. Reports said he had been suffering from depression: his wife was ill and he also had financial troubles.

Albert Edwin Trott (Eng 5 Tests): Albert Edwin Trott shot himself at his lodgings, Willesden Green in 1914. He had been very ill for some time without hope of recovery and, finding the monotony of life in hospital intolerable, he thought a pistol shot the best way out.

Andrew Ernest Stoddart (Eng 16 Tests): Stoddart died by his own hand, shooting himself through the head in 1915.

Vincent Maximillian Tancred (SA 1 Test): Tancred died of a self inflicted gun shot wound in 1904.

ACCIDENTAL DEATHS

Manjural Islam Rana (BD 6 Tests, 25 ODIs): Promising left-arm spinner and a decent batsman Manjural Islam Rana, 22, died in a road accident. He played his international cricket for Bangladesh between 2003-04 and 2005-06.

Benjamin Caine Hollioake (Eng 2 Tests, 20 ODIs): Ben Hollioake died in Perth when his Porsche 924 left a freeway exit road, made slippery by light rain, and crashed into a brick wall in 2002. Ben was just 24 years and 132 days old and no England Test cricketer had died so young.

Hansie Cronje (SA 68 Tests, 188 ODIs): He also captained in a record 53 Tests and 138 ODIs between 1994 and 2000. Cronje, 32 years 249 days, died when the cargo plane in which he was travelling, crashed on Cradock Peak in the Outeniqua mountain range on its approach to his home town, George, in the Western Cape.

Raman Lamba (Ind 4 Tests, 32 ODIs aged 38 years 51 days): Lamba had expressed a desire to play on for Delhi until the age of 45, but he was only 38 when he died after being hit on the head while fielding at forward short leg during a club match in Bangladesh in 1998.

Wilf Slack (Eng 3 Tests): The left-handed opener collapsed and died while batting in Banjul, capital of The Gambia, on Jan 15, 1989 at the age of 34. He had suffered four blackouts on the field or in the nets in the two previous years, but exhaustive tests had failed to identify the cause.

O'Neill Gordon 'Collie' Smith (WI 26 Tests): Smith died in hospital following injuries received in a motor-car accident. He played 26 Tests between 1955 and 1959, scoring 1,331 runs including four centuries.

Arthur Chudleigh Beaumont Langton (SA 15 Tests): Langton was killed in an accident in Nigeria at the age of 30.

Ken Farnes (Eng 15 Tests). Farnes was killed during the night of October 20 1941, when the plane in which he was the pilot, crashed.

Mohammad Baqa Khan Jilani (Ind 1 Test): Born on July 20, 1911, Jalandhar, Punjab and died on July 2, 1941. For a time it was believed that Jilani had committed suicide by hanging himself but actually he had suffered an epileptic fit, lost his balance on the verandah of his house in Jullundur, and fallen to death.

John William Henry Tyler Douglas (Eng 23 Tests): Douglas was drowned at sea trying to save his father's life, after two vessels collided in the fog in 1930.

George Benjamin Street (Eng 1 Test): The well-known Sussex wicket-keeper was killed at Portslade when he was riding a motor-cycle and in endeavoring to avoid a lorry at a cross-roads, crashed into a wall and died immediately in 1924. He was in his thirty-fifth year at the time of his death.

Charles Alfred Absolom (Aus 1 Test): Absolom's career in cricket was short, as he chose to travel, becoming a purser, and he came to an unfortunate end when he was buried under a misplaced load of sugar whilst loading at Port of Spain.

Frederick Morley (Eng 4 Tests): Morley had fractured a rib on the journey out when the team's ship had been involved in a collision in the harbour in Colombo. He never fully recovered, playing only two matches in 1883, and he died of congestion and dropsy at end of the summer of 1884.

 

WAR DEATHS

There have been several Test cricketers from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, who were killed in the two World Wars but here we are giving brief details of 13 available Test cricketers.

As many as seven Test cricketers -- Leonard James Moon (Eng 4 Tests), Colin Blythe (Eng 19 Tests), Major William Booth (Eng 2 Tests) (Major was his Christian name, not rank), Albert Cotter (Aus 21 Tests), Lieut Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings (Eng 7 Tests), Captain Reginald Hands (SA 1 Test), Bill Lundie (SA 1 Test) -- were killed during World War I.

Another six Test cricketers perished during World War II. They were: Maurice Joseph Lawson Turnbull (Eng 9 Tests), Geoffrey Bevington Legge (Eng 5 Tests), Ross Gerald Gregory (Aus 2 Tests), Lieut Denis Andrew Robert Moloney (NZ 3 Tests), Captain AW 'Dooley' Briscoe MC (SA 2 Tests).

 

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

[email protected].com

 

cricket

Pakistan cricket: Will it ever be alive again?

In striving for maximum commitment and eradicating the potential for failure, and ironically they had not even been plucky in defeat. Inzamam's tenure as captain only stopped on the journey and not the final destination

 

By Dr Nauman Niaz

Australia's unprecedented success is a benchmark. I'm guessing, and recent Australian performances would appear to back me up here, that the failure they refer to in increasing the potential for failure is not necessarily the same failure that other, less successful cricketing nations like Pakistan refer to and strive to avoid. Australian failure is not winning the failure Pakistan fear is losing. It follows then that Australia are never there for a plucky defeat, nor they are there for a podium finish, they are there to win.

It is a brash, positive message being conveyed by Australian sport as a whole at the moment. It is a combination of basic psychology and the principle of fulfilling potential: think successful, be successful, but remember that hard work and then more hard work is the bedrock of all success.

I'm not taking a back-handed swipe at Pakistan cricket here, merely applauding the Australians. They have travelled a long way on their sporting journey and it shouldn't be forgotten that they started from a really deep hole, arguably deeper than the hole we find ourselves in. Arguable admittedly, but neither Inzamam-ul-Haq nor Younis Khan were reduced to tears after the World Cup defeat. Inzamam broke into tears only after playing one last time for Pakistan in a One-day International match.

In striving for maximum commitment and eradicating the potential for failure, and ironically they had not even been plucky in defeat. Inzamam's tenure as captain only stopped on the journey and not the final destination. It was for this reason that one was not even guardedly optimistic about Pakistan's future. For a start, under Bob Woolmer (now deceased) and Inzamam-ul-Haq they appeared to know their destination, but as the sequence of events show, they lost the way in between. They didn't seem clear in their minds how they wanted to get there and who they wanted to take them there. It seemed, they didn't fully understand, one is sure, that it could be and probably a long journey and that on every long voyage there could be passengers that fail it to the final destination.

Life after Inzamam and Woolmer starts now. The Pakistan set-up must prepare to stand up and be counted. There is surely to be a greater degree of collective responsibility in our game. The PCB has to change. Chairman of the board must wonder what he is supposed to do now, once his resignation has been turned down.

At times, he may well think that it would have been a blessing had he been allowed to go. He stayed on. Now is the time to come out of hangovers. It's the time to plan. Appointments, some new and some blend of old faces taking up newer seats is not going to help Pakistan cricket. It's just like changing the office furniture.

Here, one must make a point, it's not about Zakir Khan arriving from the National Cricket Academy and taking over as the board's new Director Cricket Operations. It's about what he has in the offing. It's not about being an executive it's about implementing executive orders to get the things going. †

Presently, it's a little less than a shambles. There is a talk about the constitution being implemented. What constitution? Are we going to see a corporate set-up, or we are reverting to the old basics of a council governing the game democratically or a mixture of both. There are people yelling that Ad hocism should go. In case, for a moment, if we agree to these suggestions and wait for a council to come in power, a council comprising heads of the cricket associations of the country then how is it going to make cricket stronger in this moment of globalisation, in this era of biomechanics, computed analysis and nutritional demands of competitive sportsmen. Most of these association heads are barely graduates, some clerks and some result of the power-tampering.

Cricket is their only product and one knows fully that it doesn't need rocket science to sell it to the sponsors. We actually don't need an over-staffed marketing department at the PCB. Cricket sells itself. Only, if we are going to go further down in terms of performance, like Zimbabwe we would soon be seeing mega-sponsors shying away. Majority of the revenue earned by the PCB comes through television rights. It will keep on coming until we stop winning. It should be a point of concern.

The domestic teams, associations and regions must accept their responsibilities to the future of Pakistan cricket. By the domestic teams I'm not referring to the organisations and departments, all too often the easy targets for criticism, but to the cricketers themselves. In order to continue to improve the standard of Pakistan domestic cricket, the nursery from which our international cricketers will emerge, each side must set out on its own journey mirroring the values by which the Pakistan team operates.

The management of the Pakistan teams, whether they like it or not, therefore have a dual responsibility, to themselves and the domestic sides. Whilst in the short term their management and leadership skills will be judged by the performances of Pakistan, it could be argued that their impact will be judged in the long term by the performance of first-class cricket.

If the Pakistan team is to come first, and the majority accept that it should, then they should lead. The coaching staff and centrally contracted players should be, and must be, the standard bearers for (all) domestic cricket. They should live their professional lives in the manner suggested here. Anything short of a maximum commitment increases the potential for failure. I'm not in this for failure, are you? It is the very least that the supporters should expect, it is the least the sponsors should expect, and it is the very least their colleagues in the first-class game should expect.

They must set the standards that the rest of us should be striving to attain. This may seem obvious, but it has not always been the case. If we expect our international team and its management to be totally committed and eradicate the potential for failure, then the infrastructure that surrounds them should operate to similar values. \

Our cricketers should now be on performance-related contracts with no place to hide and the flimsiest imaginable safety net. They not only deserve but should rightfully expect the best possible administrative and marketing support. I can get disapproval from those with a more traditional approach. Professionalism or total commitment -- they'll be producing robots next... etc -- not so. The whole point of these values is that, properly managed, they do not confine and restrict they enable individuals to give themselves the best possible chance of fulfilling his or her potential.

It is about building a team that has self-respect and is respected. It is about creating a culture of awareness and increased acceptance of responsibilities. It is about forging a team of such spirit that helping each other is as important as helping oneself. And it is about always striving for improvement. In short, it is about maximum commitment. †

With all the Pakistan contracts now retracted, newer policies being implemented and conjecture about the personnel irrelevant, the only question that needs to be asked is: will it work? To answer that question I will set out some criteria that I believe have to be met in order for Pakistan to become a team that win consistently. First and foremost the extra fitness, freshness, hunger for the fray and mental strength that ought to be a result of central control must bring the records of our contracted fast bowlers up to the levels required for sustained Test match or international success.

Estimable performers as they are, with the exception of immensely successful Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar (persistently injured), and Umar Gul (injury-prone), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Rao Ifitkhar Anjum average more per wicket, and have inferior strike-rates, to the pace bowlers of every top cricketing nation. Ideally two of these, or anyone else for that matter, must average less than 25.00 and take a wicket 50-55 balls.

With their energies channelled to suit Pakistan's cause all the aforementioned have the ability and character to effect these improvements.

The next critical success factor is the unearthing of a spinner with the ability to take wickets at about 25-30 runs apiece with a strike-rate around 70 balls per wicket. The current vogue is for a wrist-spinner, hence the investment in Danish Kaneria, but it would be a mistake to write off the finger-spinner as a Test match dinosaur. Our long term record at producing world class leg-spinners has been great (Intikhab Alam, Mushtaq Mohammad, Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmad) for reasons of traditions, culture, climate and conditions, it's not the case now, while overseas finger spinners like Daniel Vettori and Anil Kumble are having their successes.

By all means let's do all we can to change the culture and produce more wrist spinners, but let's not ignore our traditional strengths. In addition high quality spinners (with exception to Mansoor Amjad and Abdul Rehman) are not aping Kumble, Muttiah Muralitharan and Vettori, and some unorthodoxy hasn't been able to blossom.

My third key performance indicator revolves around the successful rehabilitation of those players, such as Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Asim Kamal and Faisal Iqbal, who have either been labelled difficult or had the finger of suspicion pointed at their temperament. Late Bob Woolmer appeared less of the amateur psychiatrist and more of the firm but sympathetic facilitator who backed himself to get the best out of players whose self-confidence didn't always match their talent.

Woolmer, as it looked was also impeded by a very powerful captain. Now a new coach has to come. And Aaqib Javed, very successful at the junior level may well not be ready to take charge of the senior team. Say, Intikhab Alam may well fit in better. To know that one is thought psychologically flawed by press, public, management and possibly even team mates, doesn't do much for one's self-esteem. If prolonged exposure to a supportive, hothouse environment can effect a change in this key area, Pakistan will be well served.

Lastly, I look forward to the emergence of a young star to be the catalyst and talisman for Pakistan's re-emergence. A football manager wrote recently that it is young players who kick-start a team's metamorphosis from underachievers to winners. Their fearlessness and passion rub off on the old sweats that in turn cast off their cynicism and resignation and rediscover the joy that made them want to play in the first place. These then are my critical success factors and if one or hopefully more of them can be addressed within the next two or three series, Pakistan should have taken considerable steps forward.

Here, Dr Nasim Ashraf, his new Chief Operating Officer, the now re-designated Director Cricket Operations and his team needs to turn long talk and sermons into dexterity, into practicality. We have been fooled in the past. We are now running close to disaster. Itís not the question of being frustrated, it's about seeing Pakistan cricket going through unimpeded in the next one year or so. Lot has to be done and believe you me; we are still not clear about what we have to do. Do we have the required resource to rebuild the game in Pakistan? Here it's a question of management. So it's time our managers and the PCB executives pull up their socks.

 

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

 

Master leg-spinner Anil Kumble decides to call it a day

'I didn't expect anything less than the best from him, Anil never let us down,' these remarks were given by Rahul Dravid for his team's record breaking leg-spinner Anil Kumble some years ago

 

By Khurram Mahmood

"I didn't expect anything less than the best from him, Anil never let us down," these remarks were given by Rahul Dravid for his team's record breaking leg-spinner Anil Kumble some years ago when he was vice-captain of the Indian side. But for quite sometime Kumble had been sidelined from the One-day International matches.

In the ongoing World Cup at West Indies, India had to return home after failing to qualify for the Super Eights stage. In the group matches Kumble get only one chance against the weakest side Bermuda in which he claimed three wickets. Harbhajan Singh was given preference to Kumble but he failed to get a single wicket after conceding 83 runs in two games.

Anil Radhakrishna Kumble has been an unorthodox leg-spinner and India's main striker from the last decade, he is an ideal bowler in Indian conditions. The straighter one that zips through the batsman's defence is his main weapon. He has never been a big turner of the ball, but his line and length and accuracy make him a difficult opponent on spinning tracks. The frequent shoulder injuries had somewhat taken the sting out of his bowling for sometime.

Kumble picked up 337 wickets in 271 ODIs -- making him the highest Indian wicket-taker in One-day Onternationals -- at an average of 30.89. His economy rate is quiet reasonable at 4.30.

Kumble, during his long career of 113 Tests and 271 One-day Internationals, was one of the major contributors in many Indian victories in both form of the game. He had struggled to command a regular place in India's one-day side in the last few years. The 36-year-old master leg-spinner made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in Sharjah in 1990 and immediately justified his selection as he received the Man of the Match award in his third One-day International against England.

Kumble's best moment in ODIs came in November 1993 against the West Indies in the Hero Cup final when he took 6-12 at Eden Gardens, He grabbed 12 wickets overall in the tournament at an average of just 16. In the 1996 World Cup he was the leading wicket-taker with 15 wickets in seven matches.

Since 2001, his shoulder injury had reduced his accuracy and wicket-taking ability. In his last 63 matches he had taken only 63 wickets at an average of 40.65 while, during the same period, Harbhajan Singh played 136 games, took 152 wickets, and proved himself the right replacement for Kumble in the shorter version of the game.

Against Pakistan Kumble was more impressive in his 34 matches. Against the arch rivals he took 54 wickets at an average of 24.25. But against Sri Lanka he was least effective in 43 ODIs as he claimed only 34 wickets with a high average of 51.41. Even against Australia and England his average was over 40 per wicket.

In his around 17 years long career Kumble has conceded seventy-plus runs on four occasions, and his most expensive bowling figures were against New Zealand at Christchurch in 1998-99, when he conceded 78 runs and took only one wicket in his quota of ten overs.

He played 18 World Cup matches for India in which he has took 31 wickets with the average of just 22.83, his economy rate 4.08 was quiet good and his best World Cup figures were 4-32 against Netherlands in 2003 at South Africa.

Anil Kumble's performance abroad was not as impressive as he performed in India. Outside India he played 80 one dayers and took 67 wickets with a high average of 44.64. On Indian soil he played 90 matches in which he took 126 wickets at an average of 28.93. His strike rate outside India of 61.2 is much higher than at home which is 39.

He is also the second Indian and ninth Test bowler overall to have taken 400 or more Test wickets.

 

The writer works in the art department at 'The News on Sunday' in Karachi

[email protected]

 

ANIL KUMBLE ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL CAREER

 

Mat O R W BB Ave Econ SR 4W 5W

Overall 271 2416 10412 337 6-12 30.89 4.30 43.0 8 2

 

For Asia XI 2 20 112 3 2-73 37.33 5.60 40.0 0 0

For India 269 2396 10300 334 6-12 30.83 4.29 43.0 8 2

 

v Africa XI 1 10 39 1 1-39 39.00 3.90 60.0 0 0

v Australia 29 255.1 1249 31 3-42 40.29 4.89 49.3 0 0

v Bangladesh 4 37 100 6 3-17 16.66 2.70 37.0 0 0

v Bermuda 1 9.1 38 3 3-38 12.66 4.14 18.3 0 0

v England 28 253.2 1150 25 2-28 46.00 4.53 60.8 0 0

v ICC World XI 1 10 73 2 2-73 36.50 7.30 30.0 0 0

v Kenya 7 66 183 14 3-14 13.07 2.77 28.2 0 0

v Netherlands 1 10 32 4 4-32 8.00 3.20 15.0 1 0

v New Zealand 31 264 1086 39 5-33 27.84 4.11 40.6 0 1

v Pakistan 34 304.4 1310 54 4-12 24.25 4.29 33.8 3 0

v South Africa 40 373 1472 46 4-25 32.00 3.94 48.6 2 0

v Sri Lanka 43 375.2 1748 34 3-41 51.41 4.65 66.2 0 0

v UAE 2 17 46 3 2-30 15.33 2.70 34.0 0 0

v West Indies 26 223 973 41 6-12 23.73 4.36 32.6 1 1

v Zimbabwe 23 208.2 913 34 4-33 26.85 4.38 36.7 1 0

 

Home 90 819 3646 126 6-12 28.93 4.45 39.0 2 1

Away 80 684.3 2991 67 5-33 44.64 4.36 61.2 0 1

Neutral 101 912.3 3775 144 4-12 26.21 4.13 38.0 6 0

 

World Cup 18 173.1 708 31 4-32 22.83 4.08 33.5 1 0

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