have a captain, finally!
squash has no direction: Jahangir Khan
We have a captain, finally!
The PCB has not been running cricket in Pakistan it has been running it down! It is time that the Board mends its ways
Last Friday, Pakistan’s cricket chiefs finally managed to ‘resolve’ what actually was a non-issue. After weeks of deliberations, Ijaz Butt -- the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman -- voted in favour of retaining Shahid Afridi as the country’s captain for World Cup 2011.
It was quite farcical even by Ijaz Butt’s standards. The PCB chief is known for his bizarre antics but to make an issue out of nothing at a time when Pakistan cricket is bombarded by scandals and controversies was actually quite unbelievable.
Afridi was installed as Pakistan’s limited-overs captain with an eye on the World Cup but just weeks before the spectacle begins in the sub-continent, the PCB started having doubts about its choice.
Suddenly, stories started appearing in a section of the media that most of the national team’s players were unhappy with Afridi. The allrounder’s personal performance was also brought under the microscope with some critics even suggesting that he didn’t deserve a place in the one-day squad. The facts that Afridi was Pakistan’s highest run-getter and joint highest wicket-taker in 2010 were completely ignored.
Suddenly, many of Afridi’s critics found that Misbah-ul-Haq was a much better choice to lead Pakistan in the World Cup. Misbah’s batting form was better than Afridi and the fact that the middle-order batsman led Pakistan to a rare Test series triumph over New Zealand last month also added weight to his credentials.
Though there were no official announcements from the PCB, it was understood that the Board’s chiefs were tempted to go for change. They started mulling over the option of installing Misbah as Pakistan’s World Cup captain and even announced the 15-man final squad for the tournament without a skipper. It was all happening with the World Cup due to start in a few weeks’ time.
It can only happen in Pakistan.
Not even cricketing minnows kike Canada, Ireland or Kenya would engage themselves in such uncertainty so close to the all-important World Cup.
PCB’s inexplicable actions triggered a controversy and millions of Pakistan cricket fans were understandably furious.
If cricket were a favourite pastime in Tunisia and if the sport was run there like the way it’s being run in Pakistan, the Tunisians wouldn’t have needed a much-hated dictator like Ben Ali to bring about a revolution. They would have revolted to help the sport get rid of the incompetent regime running it.
The PCB is not running cricket in Pakistan it is running it down!
But there’s no use fretting over it. Pakistan, in any case, is no Tunisia and it seems that we are stuck with the clowns running our lives.
For the moment, the more important thing is to back Team Pakistan.
It will go into the World Cup brimming with confidence after hunting down the Black Caps in their own backyard. It’s true that New Zealand are hardly a tough team to beat these days but such positive results are priceless for Pakistan in the lead up to the World Cup.
Till a few weeks back not many gave Pakistan much chance of progressing beyond the last-eight stage of the tournament to be played from February 19-April 2 in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. But now experts are issuing warnings to the more fancied teams that they would be taking Pakistan for granted at their own peril.
Pakistan may still seem to lag behind the favourite five -- India, Australia, Sri Lanka, England and South Africa -- but their unpredictability could make them the surprise package of the World Cup.
Much will depend on Afridi. If he clicks as an allrounder and manages to lead Pakistan from the front, the Greenshirts will emerge as serious contenders for the title.
Pakistan’s line-up is shaping up well. Openers Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad hit tons in the recently-concluded one-day series against New Zealand. Kamran Akmal -- Pakistan’s other opening option -- has the guts to fire on placid sub-continental wickets during the World Cup. Misbah’s prolific form has added more stability to the middle-order which also has the reliable Younis Khan. The trio of Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Umar Akmal are ideal pinch-hitters who can massacre any bowling attack towards the end of an innings.
With a variety of spinning options available to Afridi, Pakistan will go into the World Cup with a potent bowling arsenal.
It is being anticipated that slow and turning wickets in Sri Lanka -- where Pakistan will play all their Pool A matches -- will support spinners. Pakistan have two specialist spinners -- Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman -- while Afridi and Hafeez are also good options in one-day cricket.
Pakistan’s pace battery could have been stronger if Mohammad Aamir were available for national duty but it’s not really bad with the likes of Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz in good form. There is a question mark over the fitness of Shoaib Akhtar, but the aging pacer has loads of experience and can justify his selection with some wicket-taking bursts during the World Cup.
All in all, Pakistan seem to be moving towards normalcy as far as the World Cup is concerned. That’s a good sign. Pakistan, the 1992 champions, flopped miserably in the last two editions of the World Cup in 2003 and 2007 and cannot afford to fail this time.
But to ensure that Pakistan give their best in the World Cup, the PCB will have to stop scoring own goals. The team has been announced, the captain has been named and the management has been finalized. The Board should just stop interfering in the team affairs and should just back Afridi and his men all the way. After all, it’s the Cup that’s at stake.
Khalid Hussain is Editor Sports
By Aamir Bilal
Swat is the land of romance and beauty and is known throughout the world as the holy land of Buddhist learning of peace and piety. The valley, with its rushing torrents, icy cold lakes, fruit-laden orchards and flower-decked slopes has a lovely ski resort just 15 Km from Saidu Sharif in the Hindukush ranges -- popularly known as Malam Jabba.
The 800-metre skiing slope stands in front of a modest tourist facility of a 52-room motel, courtesy of the Austrian government, which has remained inactive for last three years due to political unrest in the region.
Thanks primarily to the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Sports Ministry and the Pakistan Air Force, the resort was rebuilt and they are holding a six-team tournament to break the winter sports jinx in the country, before the initiation of National Ski Championship in Naltar (Gilgit) in the last week of February.
Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, President of Pakistan Ski Federation, has put his foot down to accelerate the development work of Ski resort in Malam-Jabba. Authentic sources have reviled that Swiss government has shown its interest in sparing a ski lift that could be later installed in Malam Jabba for the promotion of skiing and tourism in the country. However the current challenge for PAF is to find a potential sponsor for the 14th national ski championship in Naltar this year.
The Ski federation seems to follow its five point objectives that include arranging systematic training of skiers and their coaches in connection to that, two members of Pakistan Skiing have recently returned home after attending a two-week training camp on cross country skiing from Harrachov, Czech Republic. The camp was organised by International Ski Federation (FIS). The training was aimed at launching the cross country event as a regular feature of national ski competitions.
The ski federation also awarded Rs500,000 to Ifrah Wali who won gold in the Giant Slalom and Amina Wali who grabbed two silver medals in Slalom and Giant Slalom in the recently concluded South Asian Winter Games in India.
It sounds encouraging and winter sports seem to move in positive direction in the country but the awareness and sustainability of such initiatives remain under question. For instance, Pakistan participated in Second Children Ski Championship in Iran in February 1998 and secured third position. Female skier Anmaar Habib visited Aomori in Japan but still no one knows about her fate or where her skills were utilised.
The fact of the matter is that at present, only limited Alpine Skiing facilities are available in the country and Nordic skiing is almost non-existent. With only six skiing facilities at Naltar, Kalabagh, Domel, Rattu, Mallam Jabba and Ayubia it seems rather difficult to promote this seasonal sport that needs specialised and expensive equipment and heavy maintenance cost.
Skiing in Pakistan is yet in the stage of infancy but the sport has undergone a revolution in rest of the world since 1998, that introduced high class equipment like skis who are now cut with an accentuated hourglass shape whose curvature has a radius that is typically 60 percent smaller than their predecessors, and are roughly 15% shorter as a result everyone skis better.
The great skiers in the world believe that most changes in ski techniques aren’t deliberately invented by any one. They think that it evolved in Darwinian fashion, emerging from the feet of talented skiers like Johan Oliver Koos that changed the entire skiing approach.
Skiing is the only sport in the world that can be categorised as ‘sensual’ as we feel the forces, momentum and pressure acting on the body exactly on the same lines as they act when a pilot flies a supersonic jet. A good advanced recreational skier can make turns at about 20 degrees of inclination, and might occasionally reach 30 degrees. Technically strong experts do a lot of their skiing at 30 to 45 degrees. World class racers have been making giant slalom turns at 60 degrees since around the year 2000 and have recently made turns as high as 70 degrees exerting a force as high as 2.9 G.
For expert skier, ‘steep’ isn’t about how many degrees a slope is pitched. Its about skill, experience and temperament. However 40 to 45 degree is the range that most experts find exciting. Steeper than that, and you’d better know what you are doing. Of course it is easy to say that unhook your body from your emotions doing it on slopes is rather a tricky affair.
The best equipment for skiing steeps is dictated more by the snow conditions than anything else. In hard snow, skiers prefer equipment similar to what one wears for ice skating, however for open terrains with loose snow like ours in Pakistan, wider, less edgy gear is better. Poles with full size power baskets come in handy for getting maximum torque and lateral support from pole plant, as is often the case when the skier needs to get his skis around quickly.
Skiing is indeed pleasurable as well as technical that needs a lot of training and focus. Any youngster who is interested to take up skiing seriously must understand the skiing mechanics that include maintaining a good centre of gravity, understanding of centrifugal forces, command over twisting actions, balance and toppling techniques.
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Army have so far shared the major chunk of 13 Ski national ski championships. They are also the custodians of major ski resorts in the country. But now the federation needs to think on expanding the game to the masses as confining skiing to defence forces will never yield necessary dividends!
The squash legend blames Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) for the game’s stunning decline
By Bilal Hussain
Jahangir Khan has been predicting a bleak future for Pakistan squash in recent years mainly because he believes that the people at the helm of national squash affairs are clueless as to how to run the sport.
But even Jahangir was taken aback when he heard the news that Pakistan’s under-19 team fell to India in the Asian Junior Championship in Sri Lanka last week.
“It’s shocking,” said the squash legend, who is regarded among the most accomplished sportsmen of all time.
The Indian junior boys created history when they stunned title holders Pakistan in the final of the Asian Junior Team Squash Championships for their maiden triumph since the inception of the tournament in 1981.
Playing to a packed crowd at the Sri Lankan Air Force base squash venue, India’s Ramit Tandon, Abhishek Pradhan, Mahesh Mangaonkar and Vrishab Kotian rose to the occasion as they outplayed the mighty Pakistanis.
Jahangir believes that the disappointing result is another proof of the fact that Pakistan squash has hit a new low.
The dominance of Pakistan in squash was initiated by Hashim Khan, who clinched first British Open title in 1951 only to be beaten by his cousin Roshan Khan ñ- Jahangir’s father -- in 1957. Hashim won seven titles in eight years.
“Pakistan dominated squash for a better part of five decades, which started from Hashim Khan’s appearance in British Open in 1951 and concluded with Jansher Khan losing in the final of British Open in 1998. After that Pakistani players have failed to clinch even a single World Open or British Open title,” Jahangir Khan told ‘The News on Sunday’ in an interview.
“There was a time when Pakistan had around seven or eight players in World top 10 but now the Pakistani players has completely lost their grip and now there is no Pakistani representative in even World top 20 players’ list,” he added.
Jahangir is not only considered to be the greatest squash player but is also considered to be holding the longest winning streak of winning 555 consecutive matches -- the longest unbeaten run by any athlete in top-level professional sports.
Jahangir feels that one of the factors behind the decline of squash is the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) itself.
“The federation is completely structure-less. There is a president, senior vice president and a secretary and the two vice presidents are completely dummies. The officials have no experience of the game. While throughout the world, federations garner itself with people, who have experience,” he said.
“There is no consistency and there is no direction. The federation has been like that, however, the previous setups were fortunate to get champions without doing much but now they are totally clueless. Even the setup quite often changes,” Jahangir added.
Jahangir said that he had been the president of the World Squash Federation (WSF) and he knew well that such a structure of the federation could not take the game of squash in the right direction.
He lamented that Pakistan junior players lost to India in the final of Asian Junior Squash Championship and said that if some drastic changes are brought in the game of squash, there would come a time when Bangladesh and Nepal would surpass Pakistan.
“In order to achieve some worthy achievement in the world circuit, the people in the federation have to put first the interest of the country and their self interest should come last. However, I feel every person is working for self interest. Look at the secretary, he wants to make as many tours as he could,” Jahangir added.
He said that he has always remained away from the federation because he could not allow his shoulder to be used for the vested interest of others.
“If I join the federation, I would make it sure that everything has been done in the right manner. Certainly, others would not allow me to do that, so I keep myself away from the federation,” he said.
He added that he has a credibility and people knows him and respect him and if joins the federation, than they would expect a lot from him, which he could not fulfill in the present state of affairs.
Jahangir said that Pakistani players had gained artificial ranking points in the past, which has lifted their rankings up to top 20.
“The federation would manage to host PSA (Professional Squash Association) Tour tournaments here in which only our players would feature. In this way our players have earned much of the points without rigorous international competition. However, when they feature in foreign tournaments, they have to play qualifiers to enter into main rounds and they are helpless there,” he said.
He further said that the ranking of 29 and 32 (present rankings of Aamir Atlas Khan and Farhan Mehboob) is a very low one and shows the footing of Pakistan squash.
Aamir Atlas Khan and Farhan Mehboob are the top two Pakistani players, who are occupying spots in the World top 100 player list.
“It has taken a decade to fall to this ignominy from glory. And even if we start working in the right direction, it would take double that amount of time to regain the former glory,” he added.
Moreover, he said that when anyone works for a public interest, he has to keep personal interests, vendettas and presumptions aside and work for the betterment of the public interest. “Only then some progress could be achieved,” he signed off.