'Pakistan's great coaching debate
By Aamir Bilal
When I accompanied Dave Whatmore from Islamabad to Abbottabad in the summers of 2007, I realized that Whatmore was a superior coach with exceptional qualities of head and heart that were required to train the difficult side like Pakistan. He is the type of coach who has the ability to install fighting spirit in minnows like Bangladesh, and make them fight as tigers against superior teams.

IPL: the linked hypocrisy?
By Dr Nauman Niaz
Mr Ijaz Butt tried redeeming some grace. In his interpretation of the Pakistan players not being included in the bid on the third edition of the Indian Premier League, as he often does, he stood up uncouthly to the decision amidst a reverberating environment where the ministers and critiques alike joined their voices to carp and condemn India, their government, the BCCI and Mr Lalit Modi. For the first time since October 2008, even I tended to believe whatever Butt said but I had to disagree with the method he tried contemplating taking up the matter with the International Cricket Conference. However, when it comes to Pakistan, I would always be hand-in-hand with Mr. Butt et al. This has to be about high moral grounds.

The dreaded Indian League'
By Malik Arshad Gilani p.s.n.
It has come to a sad time where cricket has been reduced to being used as a political tool. All cricket lovers must agree that cricketers, like other professionals, deserve cricketing activities which assist in maximising their earnings. Thus when the IPL was conceived, it was welcomed.

Thirteen to watch
Aamer, Akmal, Parnell and 10 other youngsters to look forward to in the years ahead
If cricket changes half as much in the next decade as it did in the last, followers of the game had better fasten their seatbelts. Of course the game itself has not actually changed all that much. Steady offspinners are taking wickets, batsmen with sound techniques are scoring runs, frustrated bowlers are developing cunning ruses to take wickets, umpires are making mistakes; batsmen, bowlers, groundsmen and reporters are making mistakes; and the endless battle between bat and ball continues.

From boxing to serving burgers
Muhammad Ali Tareen, a young and talented boxer from Quetta, has been forced to give up his dreams to support his family
By Alam Zeb Safi
Unlike the countries where sports is deemed as the most vital sector for economic and social development, in Pakistan, the authorities, right from the country's independence till this day have never bothered to take it seriously and one can see its sharp downfall. If other nations invest on their players, here in Pakistan the talent is thrown away carelessly. The catastrophe is that we have lost so many players who could become world champions, mainly due to negligence of the authorities. Lack of jobs and poverty is the basic ailment which normally impedes the smooth flow of players and majority of them say good bye to their fields in nascent stage because they are also to earn their livelihood, which is also a grave compulsion.

Dilemma of being a Pakistan cricket fan
By Abdul Ahad Farshori
Winning and losing is all part of the game is a statement which has been around for as far back as I can remember; and I totally agree with it. Being a fan of Pakistan's cricket team is a proof of my belief that no matter how badly they fail -- which they do quite often -- I stick by them, case in point when they lost to Ireland in Kingston on March 17, 2007 (during the ICC World Cup), a loss which sent them packing from the grand spectacle.

 

 

Pakistan's great coaching debate

By Aamir Bilal

When I accompanied Dave Whatmore from Islamabad to Abbottabad in the summers of 2007, I realized that Whatmore was a superior coach with exceptional qualities of head and heart that were required to train the difficult side like Pakistan. He is the type of coach who has the ability to install fighting spirit in minnows like Bangladesh, and make them fight as tigers against superior teams.

Such is a coach needed by Pakistan Cricket and other competitive sports in the country. After the visit of the national camp, I raised my voice in favour of Dave Whatmore, but the management preferred Geoff Lawson over Whatmore for reasons better known to them. The decision of appointing Lawson later back fired as he resigned from his coaching assignment on differences with PCB.

Amongst the long list of internationally recognised coaches, John Buchanan stands out in the history of modern cricket. The sustained Australian supremacy in sports in general and Cricket in particular owes a lot to Australian sport structure, planning, programmes and qualified coaches like Buchanan.

Was Buchanan a former test player with insurmountable test records? Astonishingly most of the outstanding coaches in Cricket and other major sport around the world, including Buchanan were never out standing sportsmen of international worth. However, these successful coaches have sound coaching philosophies, workable and practical training programs, outstanding leadership traits and the ability to accept the responsibility in case of defeat and victory.

These coaches inspire their teams by giving them a system and not just unstructured, outdated and desultory practice sessions, without measureable outcomes. Their systems are designed such that very little is left to chance and players benefit to the maximum.

Cricket is sub-continent's dominant sport which is captain-oriented. This, however, does not mean that the coach has little or no role as advocated by most of our sportsmen who have turned into coaches. Coach plays a dominant role in shaping the skill, strategy and character of the team. Coaches are of different levels and categories ranging from elementary or basic and to national level, varying in their knowledge, experience and expertise. Their need is always felt as they ought to be the think-tank to mould the final outcome of the game. Players' performances; from development of correct fundamentals to the formulation of strategies and game plans are the coach's job.

This is the reason that coaches are always kept in high esteem and worshipped.

B C Olgilvie and T A Tutko the pioneer workers in the area of sport psychology studied the characteristics of sixty four successful coaches of major sports including Cricket. Olgilvie and Tutko deduced that successful coaches were highly orderly and organised people with a strong need to stay on top. These coaches were unusually well equipped by temperament for handling emotions when under stress. The sport psychologists also observed that they are open, trust worthy people who would actively seek roles of leadership and accept criticism with open heart and mind when the things are not going their way. They were very well equipped with the knowledge of the game and exhibited the highest average of psychological endurance of any sample of group of people ever studied.

Pakistan team management has undertaken several experiments of employing local and foreign coaches, especially in cricket and hockey and mostly, their decisions back-fired. The foreign coaches usually fail to deliver in Pakistan because of language and perception barriers, but more importantly they are subjected to undue criticism by the deep rooted, unqualified local coaching mafia that starts with a defaming campaign against them, thus labelling foreign coaches as "laptop coaches" and so forth.

I am a firm believer that coach plays a vital role in the performance of team at all levels in every sport including cricket. I also believe that successful coaching is usually the by-product of a team's or athlete's success in the preparation phase that revolves around hours of practice and training. An equally important factor is a coach's ability to instil and inspire, in a nurturing environment, winning tracts in athletes: enthusiasm, courage, compassion, tenacity desire, belief, selflessness and patience. These qualities ultimately become the glue that binds a team, the spark that ignites the spirit and passion within the athletes, enabling them to sustain high levels of performance during their competitive years and beyond.

Coaching psychology and styles have changed over the past 35 years. Players seem to be more complex, less pliable, and more apt to fight for what they feel they deserve than they were in Vince Lombardi or Islah-ud-Din's era of sports. The coach of modern day need not only be a great performer of past but a person who is aware of innovative ways to develop positive and productive situations with more open communication with players and support staff, that in turn, enhances athletes performance under pressure. Many examples exist in Pakistan where coaches were involved in brawls with players over petty issues resulting in ugly situations which we need not discuss.

Great coaches produce players not only with correct technique but also players with character that is indicative of moral strength, personal integrity and conscience.

I have great respect for Mr Intikhab Alam as a gentleman and his coaching record by virtue of Pakistan's 1992 World Cup win and T20 World Championship is remarkable. However I was utterly surprised when Intikhab Alam was given the responsibility to coach Pakistan Cricket team in December 2008. The recently-concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia under the coaching of Intikhab and few others was a true test of their abilities, which now stands fully exposed and vulnerable.

In Pakistan, we first need to understand the difference between coach, trainer and the resource person. Because of program and structural weakness the boards and sports federations have failed to install the coaching culture in our sports system. Our ex-international players after retirement aspire to seek coaching positions with senior national teams, but are not interested to coach junior strings or visit the training camps in the capacity of a "resource persons" to develop a particular area of specialty in the team or to address the individual's weakness. This burning desire to be appointed as head coach of the national team ultimately leads to intrigues and undesirable situations in the management where athlete becomes the ultimate casualty.

The other vital area of the coaching debate in Pakistan is the appointment of a foreign coach. The boards and sport federations should remain mindful of the fact that foreign coaches are best utilised in building the capacity of local coaches and not the national teams.

The internal coaching courses offered within the country lack scientific approach. There are many weak areas in our level I, II and III coaching courses which lacks focus and attention at the development of mental training and game strategies. Mostly the focus of attention is at the development of technical side of the game, which does not suffices the ultimate training and the athlete remains under prepared to face the tough challenge of modern international competitive sports.

In order to overcome these deficiencies, Pakistan sport authorities must run well thought and elaborated refresher and capacity building courses for the local coaches under the supervision of foreign experts. A sound system of performance evaluation for the coaches is also the need of hour so that coaches of appropriate level and competency can be made available for every tear of sport.

The trained and qualified coaches world wide understand that the true battle in sports has less to do with external events than with internal battles against losing enthusiasm, courage, fearlessness and comparison. Coaches in modern times are teachers and not just ex-international players, who discover creative ways to instil qualities of head and heart and help their athletes cope with failures, mistakes and set backs and not just leave them to chance. They are not the type who pass the buck to bad luck, lack of form and poor umpiring decisions in case of defeat, but accept complete responsibility of each and every happening within and outside the sports arena.

The time has come to end this long and laborious debate of coaching philosophy and culture in the country. If Pakistan wants to rise internationally as a serious sports power of South Asia, than establishment of scientific coaching culture will have to take precedence in our sports programs. Even if at this critical juncture we fail to understand the requirements and demands of modern day coaching, and continue serving our hidden agendas of saving our unethical and unprofessional designs without sufficient merit, then our talented players and teams will continue to lose.

Aamir Bilal is a qualified Coach sdfsports@gmail.com

 

By Dr Nauman Niaz

Mr Ijaz Butt tried redeeming some grace. In his interpretation of the Pakistan players not being included in the bid on the third edition of the Indian Premier League, as he often does, he stood up uncouthly to the decision amidst a reverberating environment where the ministers and critiques alike joined their voices to carp and condemn India, their government, the BCCI and Mr Lalit Modi. For the first time since October 2008, even I tended to believe whatever Butt said but I had to disagree with the method he tried contemplating taking up the matter with the International Cricket Conference. However, when it comes to Pakistan, I would always be hand-in-hand with Mr. Butt et al. This has to be about high moral grounds.

I believe, the treatment meted out to the Pakistan players reflected India and BCCI's linked hypocrisies and a clear-cut failure of diplomatic relations; no argument. Nonetheless, emotionality aside, and patriotism withheld for a minute, what is arguable is that IPL is a money spinning league and their major product, the regional teams are owned by private financiers and franchises, so even if Lalit Modi or the BCCI were pretending to hold beliefs and opinions that they were not actually holding, and IPL top-tier's decision not deliberately, coincidently or inadvertently formulated but clearly against the interest of Pakistan cricketers might well have been due to the desire to hide from the world their actual motives, not simply an inconsistency between what is advocated and what is done.

Considering India's huge market-based economy and their strength in world cricket, nothing is more unjust, however, than to charge with hypocrisy expressing zeal for those virtues which they tried neglecting to practice; philosophically there is a sense of vengeance and mutual hatred between the two countries and with India controlling the international and the Asian game and also exercising their unflinching influence on the ICC, primarily due to their financial muscle more than the moral worth, in their case by not letting the private franchise to bid for the Pakistan players, not even Shahid Afridi and a successful left arm bowler Sohail Tanvir, clearly depicted the tribute that vice pays to virtue, and a bit of certainly greasing the wheels of social exchange, it may also corrode the well-being and status of the IPL.

No matter how strongly the BCCI might well have been pleading their innocence and regardless of PCB's meekly advocacy and their failure to stir IPL's brazen and cold-turkey approach, they should know, as Boris Pasternak has Yurii say in Doctor Zhivago, "Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike...Our nervous system isn't just fiction, it is part of our physical body, and it can't be forever violated with impunity".

BCCI flaunting their authority and a huge financial base has started to assume the role of 'God Father' of international cricket, and they have also, behind the lines and shielded by their well-regulated media have openly attempted to segregate and bring shame on Pakistan, so it could be conjectured, but they have first reached this position before showing their worth, negatively or positively, is a separate issue.

Mr Butt and others, without really differentiating between emotionalism and patriotism harked incessantly against India without assessing the quality of their product and PCB's world standing, the failure of its foreign policy and also obvious disenchantment of the other boards, that a consortium consisting of Indian's premier television network and a Singapore based World Sport Group secured the global broadcasting rights of the Indian Premier League.

And a record deal spanned for ten years at a cost of US$1.026 billion; and it is also understood, as part of the deal, the consortium would pay the BCCI US$918 million for the television broadcast rights and US$108 million for the promotion of the tournament. This deal was challenged in the Bombay High Court by the IPL, and got the ruling on its side. After losing the battle in court, the local Indian channel signed a new contract with the BCCI with them paying a staggering Rs 8700 crores (Rs 87 billion) for ten years. Here, logically, we needed to determine, impartially that the BCCI might well have been controlled by the stakeholders and the decision of the private franchise could have been an anathema of the Pakistani product considering the political and generic hostility. It isn't really necessary that this diabolical decision against them had directly come from the BCCI or the Government of India, though still it could be due to the incessant failure of diplomatic relations and unacceptability of each other. It should be understood that 20% of the total revenue generated from the league would go to the IPL, 8% prize money and 72% would be distributed to the franchisees, so the franchise could have been coerced into taking such an obdurate and an obstinate decision, not bidding for the Pakistan players.

The Pakistan Cricket Board at the moment is outdated, out-generalled and out-resourced whilst the BCCI has become a colossus. Ijaz Butt; instead of doubting Lalit Modi, though there might well be loads of truth in the allegations, as it seems, should try figuring out the possible solutions to this perennial problem, where the BCCI dogmatically tries hurting PCB's interests, though the latter at times had played a role of a conduit or a power-broker for them. In taming the PCB and Pakistan cricket, it looks as if the BCCI seeks pride still invariably people like Dr Nasim Ashraf, on one extreme and Mr Butt on the other rough end of the stick, have all been party to the recent outcome. I believe, we shouldn't have been apologetic when the IPL and the BCCI had shown their concerns in matters related to visa acquisition, and also advise the PCB taking permission from their foreign office and Ministry of Interior.

Realistically, instead of reacting and overreacting to this periodic humiliation, it is still better to understand the problem with commercialism in cricket is how dependent the leagues have become on sponsorships and television rights in the last few years. I believe, though I am not really bothered, commercialism has singlehandedly ruined an entire sport, preventing it from such fundamental necessities like providing equal opportunities to all countries and teams, or individuals and players. It should also be believed, and although the beast of commercialism is largely uncontested, and is unlikely to, there remain some sacrosanct areas that the traditional cricket should not have permitted encroachment upon such as spirit and moral worth of the game.

The dignity of this decision could have halted the cricketers and even umpires from becoming walking billboards; and similarly provision of equal opportunities to all active in the trade was customary, ironically political differences, individual issues and other such matters were taken inside the sporting fray rather they were not dealt separately in other respective forums. It is like being in the Mustard Palace? I mean, the current issue might well have been the produce of incompetence of the PCB management, knives' of the IPL, BCCI and the Indian government and also the inability of people like Mr. Butt to promote his team and country's cause and also the twisted hypocrisy of double-stranded, dual-faced administrator turned failed politician Lalit Modi.

It is shambolic that Twenty20 geniuses like Shahid Afridi have been left out and those not even trudging on mediocrity have been blessed with gainful contracts. This incessant two-facedness plus the pretence and commercialism has also profoundly altered the relation of how players are represented on the IPL.

The ultimate political and cricket's hypocrisy, I suggest, that virtue, politics and wealth are now mutually exclusive. PCB's diplomatic failure is not Marxism, but BCCI's richness is glorious. In the Asian block pertaining to cricket and its market, and a rapidly growing disparity between India and Pakistan isn't radicalism, and also anti-social, either, nor is it the from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs'. It is evident that spirit of cricket is dead in India, so why single-out Pakistan. It has to be understood despite its product being grossly devalued and Pakistan's geopolitical situation not really conducive for international cricket to be hosted in the area, still Pakistan players' rejection and rebut by the IPL is only hypocrisy.

 

The dreaded Indian League'

By Malik Arshad Gilani p.s.n.

It has come to a sad time where cricket has been reduced to being used as a political tool. All cricket lovers must agree that cricketers, like other professionals, deserve cricketing activities which assist in maximising their earnings. Thus when the IPL was conceived, it was welcomed.

Regrettably when the ICL was instituted as competition and the BCCI used its muscle to prevent its growth, I for one, was against the PCB lining up with the BCCI and supporting their cause with the ICC.

Now the inevitable has come about and we have a situation where arguably some of the more exciting players of the short form of the game are plainly, intentionally but legally, being kept away from the competition in an obvious united effort by the organisers and the powers behind the tournament. We can rant and rave but we must realise that it is a commercial venture and individual investors do not need to justify their actions. Thus when on Friday night one broadcaster aired a program dedicated to the controversy connected with the auction this year, one or two of the experts expressed views that deserve examination.

Let me begin by telling that some five weeks before the auction, I had it on good authority that the IPL hierarchy led by Lalit Modi had no intentions of allowing the participation of Pakistan players. There was no conspiracy they did not want the added risk. If I am asked as to why I did not advise the PCB, my reply would be it is not my job to do so. It is thus most surprising that our illustrious, experienced Chairman of the PCB in spite of detailed discussions with the officials in India was not able to glean this information. Let me add that considering the political and security aspects of the situation it should not have needed any special intelligence to conclude that without very strong documentary assurance, one should have not exposed Pakistan and its players to this kind of embarrassment.

Let us face it India is facing as much of a security problem as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It would be foolish for the organisers to increase any existing dangers to those from the BJP/Shiv Sena axis. I believe my credibility will withstand any statements suggesting that this is grand standing after the event.

To return to the many views aired in the program. The cricketer Basit Ali in his desire to run IPL down actually suggested that match-fixing is taking place in that tournament. Let me say that unless Basit has some inside information from the bookies about this or is an expert on such matters it is an awful statement to make. He further insisted on telling the Owner of Delhi Daredevils that their decision to opt for fast bowlers instead of spinners was bad judgement. Whilst, Basit could have clearly indicated that he did not believe the Indian Official, it was ludicrous to continue to insist that Delhi Dare Devils should have selected spinners instead of fast bowlers.

It is inane to continue to insist on a conspiracy. What conspiracy? The Indians did not wish to permit Pakistan players to participate in their tournament. They were smart enough not to provide any proof that it was intentional. They continued to insist that it was the choice of the bidders.

What does sadden me is that our PCB Management ends up appearing to be complicit in the Indian designs. Let me also add that without Pakistan players the IPL loses some of its value. The repeated bleats by our experts are now becoming embarrassing. Not one expert suggested the logical path which is that since ICC has sanctioned this as an International Tournament any hint of sanctions against any one permanent member should cause the IPL to lose that sanction. There can be no arbiter in the world that will say that whilst the actions in the bidding were entirely legal, these could by no stretch of the imagination be due to pure cricketing reasons.

They must have been orchestrated due to other reasons resulting in a sanction against one full member of the ICC. This is all one has to prove for the ICC to be required to take action.

India has become the biggest market for cricket in the world. They have every intention of ruling cricket. We cannot compete with them in this matter they are a nation six times our size. Thus noises about starting our own League of the same value are stupid. However there is no reason why we cannot start a tournament of our own but first we have to get teams to come and play here.

We have one option which is that our team should become a champion team. We must learn from the words of that great poet Iqbal who advised that "Make yourselves so great that at every turn of fate, God asks you as to what is your desire". We really must stop whining at situations which have been contributed to by our own incompetence.

If we have the courage of our convictions we should require the ICC to ensure that due to the genuine security concerns of the Pakistan players all matches in which our team participates be held in the World Cup be held in Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. This should also apply to the semis or the final.

malikgilani2002@gmail.com

 

Thirteen to watch

Aamer, Akmal, Parnell and 10 other youngsters to look forward to in the years ahead

If cricket changes half as much in the next decade as it did in the last, followers of the game had better fasten their seatbelts. Of course the game itself has not actually changed all that much. Steady offspinners are taking wickets, batsmen with sound techniques are scoring runs, frustrated bowlers are developing cunning ruses to take wickets, umpires are making mistakes; batsmen, bowlers, groundsmen and reporters are making mistakes; and the endless battle between bat and ball continues.

Progress has been made in some areas. Towards the end of the decade the umpire review system was introduced, and already it is helping take the sting out of umpiring blunders. Twenty-over cricket has arrived, bringing laughter and colour to the game, attracting the attention of sports enthusiasts hitherto unfamiliar with cricketing language. Admittedly it has its downsides. Popular entertainments aimed at the mass market and driven by television revenues are not as easily marshalled as serious recreations pursued by devotees.

Cricket has also attempted to widen its scope by promoting the game in previously unsuspecting areas. It is a far-sighted investment. Anything to get away from the narrowness of the colonial and post-colonial debate. For years the colonialists were at liberty to impose their way of thinking. Now the post-colonialists justify dubious conduct on the grounds that past distortions need to be rectified. And so the dialectic goes back and forth in search of enlightenment.

The game, however, has held together and all concerned ought to be congratulated. But then, it is a very good game, one blessed with many faces, paces, colours, faiths, backgrounds, interpretations. Happily, too, brazen and bristling youngsters keep brightening the scene. Indeed the game seems to get younger even as its observers age. Perhaps Twenty20 has helped to strip it of its mystique, opening the mind to its possibilities, releasing youth before it has been taught and tamed. Amid all the regret of too little money spent on development, millions wasted by boards, missed opportunities to reduce the hysteria that can grip nations, amid all these things, youth keeps stepping forwards and taking wickets and cracking sixes and winning matches and surprising with its understanding and maturity. In case any reader remains depressed about the next decade, let's offer a rough-and-ready list of players likely to be worth watching as the years unfold.

And, just for a change let's start with the unfashionable nations, though not before begging forgiveness for omitting any players from Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Talent abides in both nations but little is seen of them and it's hard to pick anyone out with any confidence. Only players 24 and under have been considered -- a qualification that eliminates Hashim Amla and JP Duminy amongst others.

Martin Guptill (23).

An upright batsman with a fine technique and superb drive, he is the likeliest of the emerging Kiwis to make his mark. Like most of his fellow countrymen, has been thrown into the deep end at an early age and his figures have suffered. However his class cannot be missed. Already amongst his country's leading ODI batsmen.

Kemar Roach (21).

His thunderbolts impressed observers in the Champions Trophy and shook the Australians on the recent tour Down Under. Between them helmets and slow pitches had reduced the impact of fast bowling. After dominating from 1972 to about 1995, it had fallen back. Roach's raw speed raised eyebrows. He forced Ricky Ponting to retire hurt for the first time in his career.

Adrian Barath (19).

Any teenager capable of scoring a hundred as an opener at the Gabba in his first Test, and against an otherwise rampant Australian outfit, has much to offer. Small, and spirited, Barath is a gusty and gutsy opener and a fine fieldsman. His rise confirms the ever-increasing part played by the Indian community in Caribbean cricket.

Stuart Broad (23).

Lively allrounder capable of changing matches with bat or ball. Judging from performances at critical moments in the Ashes series, he cannot be cramped by opponents or pressure. Can swing the ball from a lofty place and can counter-attack from the lower orders. Not always the most discreet of competitors. Sons of referees have much in common with the sons of bishops.

Adil Rashid (21).

Bradford born legspinner and handy batsman. Already has made his mark in ODIs and can be expected to play Test cricket sooner rather than later. His rise confirms the part played in England by those raised in cultures outside the slow-flowing mainstream.

Angelo Mathews (22).

A sturdy and capable allrounder with proven skills in both departments. Has prospered in all forms of the game. A fine batsman, he reached 99 in a Test match against India only to run himself out. His medium-pacers combine accuracy and variety. Sri Lanka can depend on his skills and fortitude.

Umar Akmal (19).

From a strong cricketing family that used to practise in a gully, he has already been acclaimed by sage and mostly sober observers as Pakistan's next great batsman. He has a correct technique, a wider range of shot and an abundance of spirit. Impetuosity is the only thing holding him back.

Mohammad Aamer (17).

A slip of a lad from the backwaters, he impressed the Kiwis and Australians with his stamina, pace and ability to swing the ball in both directions from either side of the wicket. Often surpassed 150kph and did not flag in a long spell in Melbourne. With the ball he is Wasim Akram reincarnate.

Wayne Parnell (20).

Tall left-armer with plenty of pace and swing in his armoury. Provided he stays fit he will bring penetration, variety and colour to the South African team, thereby filling several holes. Comes from the townships in the Eastern Cape, long a stronghold and nowadays the most productive cricketing location in the country.

Ishant Sharma (21).

Already has had more ups and downs than most boys of his age. His inexperience tends to be forgotten as he strives to recapture the excellence shown in his early days in Indian colours. Can be strengthened by these confusions and return as a fully fledged bowler blessed with height, pace and durability of body and mind.

Steven Smith (20).

Dashing batsman and handy legspinner, a combination warmly appreciated but in short supply Down Under. Bound to get his chance soon but more likely to play as an allrounder than as a specialist spinner. Has a sound father and a strong club and so can survive the hype.

Mitchell Marsh (18).

Powerfully built and hard-hitting middle-order batsman. Also bowls a heavy ball. Currently at the Under-19 World Cup but his progress will be closely followed when he returns. Australia is looking towards youth as it tries to restore vitality in the age of professionalism.

Virat Kohli (21).

The Delhi-ite seems the most composed and correct of India's emerging batsmen. So far he has taken the trip from successful Under-19 captain to international honours, wealth and acclaim in his stride. Many perils await, but his character can survive temptation and his technique scrutiny. --Peter Roebuck on cricinfo

 

 

From boxing to serving burgers

Muhammad Ali Tareen, a young and talented boxer from Quetta, has been forced to give up his dreams to support his family

By Alam Zeb Safi

Unlike the countries where sports is deemed as the most vital sector for economic and social development, in Pakistan, the authorities, right from the country's independence till this day have never bothered to take it seriously and one can see its sharp downfall. If other nations invest on their players, here in Pakistan the talent is thrown away carelessly. The catastrophe is that we have lost so many players who could become world champions, mainly due to negligence of the authorities. Lack of jobs and poverty is the basic ailment which normally impedes the smooth flow of players and majority of them say good bye to their fields in nascent stage because they are also to earn their livelihood, which is also a grave compulsion.

One of the sufferers of such a system is the talented boxer Muhammad Ali Tareen from Quetta, who, in spite of having great talent, had to abandon boxing to support his nine-member family which is solely dependent on the 23-year old young man. The boy is currently serving in a shop here in Karachi, offering burgers to the clients for which he is paid a monthly salary of Rs8000.

Ali, who is the elder of two brothers, tells his own grave story: "Though, basically, I belong to Quetta but I was playing for Sindh. In 2001, I opted for boxing and played consistently till 2006. In 2002, while playing in the 60kg category, I won a gold medal in the All Sindh Boxing Championships held in Tandojam. Similarly, in 2004, I captured silver medal in the National Junior Championship when I lost the final to a boxer from Army.

"I was playing in the Olympian Jan Muhammad Baloch's club called RCD here at the Ranchoreline and have also done sparring with renowned boxers like Mehrullah Lassi and Asghar Ali Shah which helped me improve my technique. At that time, too, I used to do part-time work to earn some money to help the family along with boxing. But now, in this period of inflation, without any employment it has become almost impossible for me to continue playing the game as well as I have to work from early morning in a burger shop till late in the night," the sad Ali narrated.

"Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad had called me for a meeting after a news report aired by a private TV channel about my condition and I met with the honourable governor at the Governor House on January25, 2009 and he promised me that he would be given a job. He told me that I should hand over all my credentials to his press secretary and personal assistant Syed Wajahat Ali and I did so. But so far, after a lapse of one year, I have not been given any response which has hurt me a lot," the poor boxer said.

"When I see some of my colleagues like Nadir Khan and Mohib Bacha gaining progress in the field, it hurts as I feel that I could too move up in the field if I had any means of subsistence. I still have great aspirations to resume my career but I need a job so that I could also support my family. I again request the Sindh Government and Governor Ishratual Ibad Khan to please give me a job so that I could resume my boxing career shine for the country at both national and international level," Ali said.

"I am still fit and if I get training for three months consistently I will be able to catch the top rhythm and form as I am still young and can carve the way to make my career," Ali concluded.

 

Dilemma of being a Pakistan cricket fan

By Abdul Ahad Farshori

Winning and losing is all part of the game is a statement which has been around for as far back as I can remember; and I totally agree with it. Being a fan of Pakistan's cricket team is a proof of my belief that no matter how badly they fail -- which they do quite often -- I stick by them, case in point when they lost to Ireland in Kingston on March 17, 2007 (during the ICC World Cup), a loss which sent them packing from the grand spectacle.

What happened, with no certainty, I think was that they were going through a bad patch altogether in that period and the defeat was a consequence of a morale that was touching nadir courtesy of back to back losses.

However, there have been many a time when a match result has dented my devotion a great deal, times like the final of the World Cup in 1999 played at Lords -- where we lost to Australia by eight wickets, as we only made a dismal 132 runs for the opponents to chase.

That result sparked match-fixing allegations like no other, Wasim Akram, Pakistan's World Cup captain, was one of the three leading members of the team (at that time) who were investigated over match-fixing which dated back to the mid 1990s.

And an icing on the cake was the image of Wasim Akram laughing at the closing ceremony while talking to Steve Waugh (Australia's captain in 1999), which sent temperatures simmering to a boiling point.

All things aside what we have to be proud of is that we are the champions of the Twenty20 format and have won a record seven games in a row but, and that is a big but, we lag far behind when it comes to the five-day format.

Pakistan has not managed to win a Test series for the last four years and their last victory was recorded in 2006 at home, against the West Indies.

In the ongoing tour Down Under, Australia achieved their twelfth consecutive victory against Pakistan winning the third Test at Hobart.

Since the win against the West Indies, Pakistan has failed to manage to put up a performance to inspire the local crowd back in to the longer format of the game.

Then late last year, Mohammad Yousuf took over as captain for the tours of New Zealand and Australia as Pakistan levelled the three-Test series 1-1 in New Zealand.

Now from a fan's perspective there is nothing much left to watch in a Test match, as our team lacks batsmen who have the capability to stay at the crease for, anytime, longer than a day's play, we have fielders who make blunders out of a stationary ball, bowlers who sometimes do not seem to know what and where to bowl at.

In the incident (that's what I consider it) of Pakistan's calamitous hammering in Sydney; it was all a case of serious human error. To begin the debacle, there was the dreadful wicketkeeping of Kamran Akmal, followed by the equally nervous captaincy of Mohammad Yousuf -- who at one point on had eight fielders securing boundaries for No 10 batsman, Peter Siddle.

To top it up, there was the irresponsible batting of our beloved men in green. Pakistan at one time needed only 125 runs to win with 9 wickets in hand. At that instance, I was naive enough to actually put a plan for celebrating the win in Australia after 15 years. It all went in vain as I woke up few hours later to see the unbelievable as the remaining 9 wickets fell for just another 89 runs.

It's time Pakistan cricket looked in the mirror and owned up to its constant failings and questionable on and off field tactics. They now, for sure, have missed a great chance that they had to redeem themselves by showing some class in the One-day series.

I never expected them to win, at least not with a sound mind, but what they could have done was, to maybe, put up a fight!

With the ICC World Cup just around the corner, our cricket is desperately in need of a good old-fashioned honest assessment.

And far as the following of the game goes in the country; it now solely rests in the hands of our players. They and only they can regain their lost pride by putting aside all the 'games' within the team and put up a fighting performance to prove their class to their fans and critics.



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