Friday June 14, 2024

Who’s gonna be the coach?

By Khurram Mahmood
September 01, 2019

In spite of having an enormous amount of cricketing talent, Pakistan has not achieved the standing in the game many experts believe the country should have gained and maintained.

If the national cricket team does not perform even up to a normal level, then it is obvious that there has been something drastically wrong.

Is changing the coach the only way to improve the performance of the team? Obviously not.

Domestic cricket structure, players’ power, weak captain and fitness problems also demand attention.

First, our bad luck is that our domestic structure is not up to the international standard and has failed to provide quality players who can compete with other top teams and take the pressure of crunch situations.

Players who score record numbers of runs and take wickets regularly in domestic cricket fail to deliver the goods when chances are provided to them in international matches.

Pakistan’s coaches have often faced the sack over routine defeats, whereas in other countries they are given an extended run.

Former Pakistan coach Richard Pybus during his tenure said that coaching the Green-shirts was one of the toughest jobs in international cricket. Pakistani players are among the most talented but at the same time they are really hard to manage, Pybus said.

After the early exit of Pakistan cricket team from the World Cup 2019, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on the recommendation of its cricket committee decided not to extend the contract of Mickey Arthur.

To select the new coach a panel comprising former cricketers Intikhab Alam, Bazid Khan, PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan, Director of International Cricket Zakir Khan and Board of Governors’ member Asad Ali Khan conducted interviews. Among the main contenders are former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, ex-opener Mohsin Khan, former Australian cricketer Dean Jones and West Indies former fast bowler Courtney Walsh.

Critics believed that Misbah will be the next head coach for Pakistan cricket team. That may have been the reason he stepped down from the PCB’s Cricket Committee just a day before he applied for the position of head coach.

But some former cricketers, especially Ramiz Raja, are against the idea of Misbah’s appointment because of his defensive approach. They think that the new coach should have a positive approach and be aggressive.

As far as the other candidates are concerned, Dean Jones was a great batsman of his era, but he has never truly coached a top-level side. But under his coaching, Islamabad United won the Pakistan Super League (PSL) title twice.

Jones has in the past applied for the position of Pakistan cricket team coach and said he would love to coach the Green-shirts. Wasim Akram conveyed to the board that Jones could be a good choice as he worked with him with the Islamabad team and saw his temperament and skills.

Mohsin was named the interim coach in October 2011, at the end of Waqar Younis’ first stint. Under him, Pakistan whitewashed England in three-match Test series in the UAE, but lost all four ODIs.

Later, the PCB appointed Dav Whatmore in early 2012 and released Mohsin. Mohsin has not been connected with cricket for a long time, due to which there is no chance for him. Another important candidate is Courtney Walsh, one of the greatest ever fast bowlers. He was Bangladesh’s bowling coach for the last three years. His contract expired at the end of the World Cup 2019, and now he is eyeing the top slot in Pakistan cricket.

Since the 1992 World Cup triumph, Pakistan team has had 29 coaches. In the same period, India had 12 coaches, England 10 and Australia just eight.

Whether it’s Jones, Misbah or anybody else, Pakistan team needs a coach who can understand the problems of the players, especially batsmen who are not quick learners.

The first challenge for the new coach will be to unite the players. Our players lack both temperament and technique. They are talented but due to lack of proper guidance they are inconsistent and are prone to throwing away their wickets in crunch situations. To curb this weakness an aggressive and smart coach is needed.

It will be a really tough task for the upcoming coach to lift the seventh-ranked Test side. A real challenge is ahead for the new coach when Pakistan team tours Australia near the end of this year.

To create fighting spirit in the side, we need an aggressive leader. Sarfaraz Ahmed’s leadership qualities are debatable. His body language as a skipper is not aggressive enough.

For the bowing coach, former Pakistan captain and fast bowler, Waqar Younis is the most favourite candidate. He has served in the position before.

Waqar, 47, has twice worked as head coach of the Pakistan team, from 2010 to 2011 and 2014 to 2016. He has made it clear that he is not mentally prepared to take charge as head coach for the third time.

Pakistan’s first international assignment after the World Cup will be a limited over series at home against Sri Lanka from September 27.