The performance of coaches

May 3, 2015

We should stop aping the other teams who have introduced a vast coaching panel that travels with the team

The performance of coaches

Though the showing on the second day in the first Test boosted Pakistan’s confidence despite poor fielding on the first day, what has caught the eye are reports of the heart-to-heart talk Waqar Younus and Mushtaq Ahmed reportedly had with the players after their only T20 against Bangladesh. The coaches asked players what they had done wrong and how they can put it right.

That’s a dangerous thing to do. It can work both ways. A coach’s authority drops significantly if he seeks a vote of confidence for himself or puts himself on the evaluation sheet to be filled by the men he commands. It shows that he has not the answers and lacks self awareness.

This also shows that the coaches are losing moral authority over the players. A coach has to take defeat on his chin and if he feels he doesn’t have the answers he should simply resign and give someone else the opportunity.

That Waqar hasn’t been able to forge a unit or strategy that has resulted in five straight series losses in ODIs shows that something is very wrong with the current setup.

To be fair, he has had his bowling line up wrenched from him following the loss in Sri Lanka last summer. Pakistan were winning till then mainly because of its bowling which included Ajmal, Hafeez, Junaid and Irfan.

Suddenly all disappeared for some six months and you can’t coach fresh bowlers that rapidly.

But that is specifically what a good coach does; he wins within the rules and with his resources. He is supposed to be a man with many tricks up his sleeve and a motivator that makes the ordinary cricketer rise to the occasion.

If you win with the best bowling attack in the world then why should the coach take the credit? Like it or not the coach is there for consistent improvement and imbuing fighting spirit.

And if there were some views that the ODI losses were due to some unimaginative captaincy and bowling changes and field placements by the new captain, then the mauling in the T20 game under supposedly the more motivational leadership of Shahid Afridi was incomprehensible.

In fact the shoulders seemed more lagged than they were in the previous games.

Again, giving out statements like he should step down is not an option. Afridi today is a motivating force when it comes to leadership, even if his own form has been dismal. Young players look up to him. And he radiates a confidence in the field that few have. For him to sound apologetic means there is no leader to turn to. Except of course Misbah ul Haq. And so those who have been knifing his batting and leadership have seen just how important a role he was playing in keeping this team together and motivated.

Pakistan lost four ODI series under him, yes, but at least they had gone down fighting. And they were up against teams like Australia and New Zealand (the World Cup finalists) and Sri Lanka.

There is a question mark on the batting and fielding coach also. We saw that that the three players who batted more like ODI batsmen were Rizwan and Sami Aslam, both of whom were playing for the first time under Grant Flower’s guidance. And the continuous dropping of catches under the coaching of Grant Ludon has also created doubts.

It may not be held against them if the players themselves are not working hard enough or not following their lessons when on the field.

But it rams home the point that if it isn’t working for whatever reason why should we have these specialists at all? If they claim it is not their fault and as Waqar said the fault was in our system, then let’s save the over hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year being spent on these two coaches and spread that amount to training local coaches, former Pakistani cricketers who have to their credit some good batting and bowling stints for the country and who have the potential to be good communicators and researchers.

This I feel is the way to go. We should stop aping the other teams who have introduced a vast coaching panel that travels with the team.

Shaharyar Khan must take a decision. The fitness coach and even those who were working in the PCB Academy have failed miserably to keep the bowlers fit. It is no use having coaches just to emulate the other teams. They must deliver or make way for others. And if there are no good alternatives then abolish these positions altogether. Our best years in cricket were when there were no coaches.

The performance of coaches