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April 19, 2016

No quick fix to Pakistan cricket’s problems, says Inzamam


April 19, 2016

New chief selector vows to do justice with ‘national duty’;brings in Tauseef, Waseem and Wajahat as selectors

KARACHI: It was a surprise move when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) revealed last week that it was all set to rope in former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq as the new chief selector.

There was even more surprise in store for the followers of the game on Monday when Inzamam, after getting installed as the chairman of selectors, unveiled his selection committee.

Many expected that it will include the likes of Mohammad Yousuf, another former Pakistan captain, but instead Inzmam handpicked the trio of former Test spinner Tauseef Ahmed, Waseem Haider and Wajahatullah Wasti.

At a crowded press conference in Lahore on Monday, a relaxed Inzamam emphasised that he would perform the “national duty” in the best possible manner. But he was also quick to declare that there was no magic wand to find any quick fix for Pakistan cricket.

“We have to be patient, don’t expect anything soon. I will see the players first, inshallah you will see a change soon. I am here for the national duty and I won’t leave it,” Inzamam said.

“To select a team is a very important thing, it has to be done by some cricketer, I will try to fulfill my duty. It’s the start, I don’t have a magic wand, it will take time, there will be technical things and other problems too which we have to see.”

The duration of Inzamam’s tenure hasn’t been announced. It is understood that he took a pay cut after quitting as Afghanistan’s batting coach. He was getting a salary of US$12,000 but as chief selector his salary will be Rs800,000.

Inzamam will be at the helm of a panel that includes former opening batsman Wajahatullah Wasti, Tauseef Ahmed, an offspinner who played 34 Tests and 70 ODIs, and seam-bowling allrounder Wasim Haider, who played three ODIs and over 100 first-class and List A matches.

“I have played a lot for Pakistan but it’s for the first time that I have come [as selector] and the PCB has given me such an important responsibility,” Inzamam said.

“The three selectors should be involved in first-class cricket and [we have] one fast bowler, one spinner and one batsman so that we can cover three sectors.”

Inzamam’s appointment comes in the wake of several changes in Pakistan cricket. His former team-mate Waqar Younis had stepped down as coach on April 4, a day after Shahid Afridi relinquished his T20 captaincy. This shake-up was the result of a poor 2016 for Pakistan. They lost the T20 and the ODI series in New Zealand in January. They lost two of their four matches in the Asia Cup T20 in February and in the ensuing World T20, they lost three out of four games. In both tournaments, they could not make it beyond the first round.

Inzmam was diplomatic when asked whether he will consider Afridi for national duty saying that the all-rounder remains a star for Pakistan.

Performance reports from Waqar and team manager Intikhab Alam had made several points pertaining to selections. Waqar had recommended that the chief selector “should be someone who has played modern-era cricket and has a positive vision” and had recommended Inzamam for the job.

Pakistan’s next assignment is a full tour of England - four Tests, five ODIs and a lone T20I - that starts in July. Inzamam cautioned against expecting an immediate change in performance.

“I can’t talk about the last selection committee, but you have to make a pool of players and guide them and spend time with them. When you make changes, you face problems, but we will be back on track if we make a pool of players.”

Inzamam is Pakistan’s highest run-getter in ODIs with 11701 runs in 375 matches, and their third-highest in Tests with 8829 runs in 119 matches. He was also among the country’s most distuinguished captains and as selector, he wanted to make sure the captain remained the “main man”.

However, he is also remembered as the captain who played the lead role in Pakistan suffering the ignominy of forfeiting a Test – against England at The Oval in 2006.

Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman who flanked Inzamam at Monday’s press conference, was also the Board’s chief when ‘Oval Gate’ took place. Later, Shaharyar held Inzamam responsible for the fiasco.

However, on Monday the PCB chief threw his weight behind Inzamam. “We should look ahead,” he said.

Inzmamam, meanwhile, said that he will give due importance to the captain’s input in selection matters.

“I will try and also hope that I will be allowed to work independently,” he said. “My role is different, when I was the captain I used to give my suggestions. Now, I will listen to them (captains) too about what’s their suggestion. When I was the captain I used to have my say. The captain is the main man. Like how I used to give my suggestion, I will give importance to what captain and coach will say because they are the ones who matter inside the ground.”

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