If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it


Mohsin Khan has tossed his hat in the ring for the position of coach of the Pakistan cricket team. And why not! During his short tenure, the team seems to have gelled as a combination, there is no sign of infighting or suspicion of match fixing. Mohsin has done a fine job as had his predecessor Waqar Younis. He has not imposed himself unduly on the players and the boys look relaxed in his presence.
What is really striking about the team is that the captain and coach have empowered the players. There is no take charge captain or the coach waving from the pavilion and sending semaphore messages as one former coach did.
The PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf has named Dav Whatmore and Jonty Rhodes as contenders for the head coach and fielding coach respectively. With all due respect Mr. Ashraf, you are barking up the wrong tree. Nothing succeeds like success and at the moment the team is doing splendidly, thank you.
Then you had made a statement that you would not make change just for the sake of change. Then why change horses in mid stream? The foreign coach will cost a small fortune and will justify it by making all sorts of corrections and improvements. This will more likely than not, have a deleterious effect on the team and it will take some time to settle down.
Whatmore was successful in Sri Lanka but has not done anything outstanding ever since. A lot of times a set of circumstances is what makes a coach successful and he simply rides the wave. It would be interesting to find out of if demon howler Muralitharan and Whatmore came into the game at the same time. That might explain the turn in fortunes.
Rhodes was one cricketer whom the paying public would pay just to see him field. Nobody even approaches Rhodes’ athleticism and consistency as a fielder. There was another South African, Colin Bland, of whom people talked about in the same glowing terms, but it is hard to see even Bland approaching Rhodes’ skills. By all means employ these coaches for assignments of two or three weeks. They would coach the players and teach our coaches all the drills that they know. But that ought to be the extent of it.
As far as batting and bowling is concerned, this is the age of YouTube and the Internet. The PCB should have a good multi-media department which should film all the national players from all angles, particularly when they are performing well. When they are in a slump, they should be filmed again and more often than not, the players will identify their own technical issues or their team mates will help them. There are many former cricketers who can spot technical flaws in next to no time. All they have to do is access the videos on YouTube from wherever they are in the world. This is going on in tennis and would be ideally suited to cricket.
So, Zaka Ashraf, try to look inwards, make our coaches believe that they are as good as any others, which they might well be. Give them a level playing field and a long stint at their job and they will not let you down. After all we have the best umpires in the game with Aleem Dar leading the way. The same could happen with our coaches and indeed our team.
The Pakistani cricketers continue to perform splendidly, especially our bowling attack, which could be the best in the game at the moment. The spinners, led by Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal are almost unplayable given the right conditions. Along with Hafeez, who should be an ideal captain should the present captain call it a day, and the excellent Umar Gul and Aizaz Cheema, the bowling attack has admirable balance. Sohail Tanvir is a competent, unorthodox bowler who has considerable batting ability. With a little work, he could be the all-rounder that the late order is looking for.
Bangladesh are finding our boys to be more than a handful, especially the wiles of Afridi and his fellow spinners. None of their batsmen have shown any real desire to stay at the crease for any period of time. And this has now been going on for years. There are arguably better teams in the second division, with Afghanistan, Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands who would fancy their chances against the Bengal Tigers. This raises the question of a two-tier Test system with the weakest team playing the strongest team in the second division for the right to stay in the top tier. Frankly, there is a crying need for something like this, more so than for a world Test Championships.
Federer turns the clock back
Roger Federer brought forth memories of his halcyon days of six years ago, to win the season ending Masters Championships at the O2 arena in London last week. Having taken an extended break from the game after his nightmare loss to Djokovic at the US Open after holding two match points, Federer has looked remarkably fresh and his effortless game means that he has less wear and tear on the body. Federer is on a late season roll having won three tournaments in a row and will be looking to carry this form to the Aussie Open in six weeks time.
In sharp contrast, his rivals looked jaded even though there was a lot of money and prestige at stake. But for these players, money has ceased to be an issue. They will be the first to tell you that they play tennis only for the challenge. They have made so much money that any more of it is immaterial to them.
The Davis Cup Finals are to be played this weekend between Argentina and the hosts and favorites, Spain. The South Americans will be spearheaded by the giant Juan Martin Del Potro with David Nalbandian and Juan Monaco in supporting roles. For Spain, it will be Rafae; Nadal and David Ferrer along with the doubles team of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.The favorites are Spain but Argentina will be fresher, not having played in last week’s event. Also, sometimes in Davis Cup, the home court advantage can turn out to be extra pressure from the expectant fans. Argentina has a chance, should Del Potro fire on all cylinders.
Indo-Pak Express decoupled
In a rather abrupt move, the Indian half of the Indo-Pak Express, Rohan Bopanna has announced that he will play doubles next year with Mahesh Bhupathi. Bopanna’s abrupt and somewhat curt announcement took Aisam Qureshi by surprise, as the duo had done well after recovering from the trough of the European summer. However, the signs of discord were evident earlier, at Wimbledon, where the players did not seem to be synching too well. Aisam is now playing with a Dutch doubles specialist. We wish him the best of luck.