Archive for October, 2011

The Coaching Conundrum

It is surprising how little effort the Pakistan Cricket Board has made in their search for the best possible option to take over from Waqar Younis. Of course the good old route of forming a sub-committee to make suggestions to the PCB chief was taken. The usual suspects in Inti, Ramiz and Zaheer Abbas were rounded up who in a blaze of passing the joint around with Purple Haze aptly blaring in the background quickly jotted down a list of names on a piece of rolling paper before moving on to contemplating on obviously more important issues. Inti of course was wondering if the others had seen him slip his own name on the list, Ramiz was making a mental note of ways to humiliate Pakistan while commentating against Sri Lanka and not to forget his appointment with the wig maker. Zaheer was still confused why he was part of a committee making suggestions to himself for surely they all knew who the top job was going to.

To assume this won’t be completely ridiculous considering the happenings of Pakistan Cricket. The list that the committee has came up with has about as much thought process and research put into it as Salman Butt’s excuses during the Police raid on his hotel room. It’s a mixture of the obvious and the bizarre; Mickey Arthur (talk about wishful thinking) Aqib Javed (Duh!), Dean Jones (mmmm…. he’s not a coach but that shouldn’t really be a standard to judge the candidates with).

The two choices that do make sense Dermot Reeve and Sabih Azhar are too low profile to stand out and make their voices heard in the dramedy of Pakistan Cricket. This side needs a strong coach, who wouldn’t have to spend the first few months earning the respect of the players. Some thing Waqar was blessed with and was the main reason why the team was able to perform at an acceptable level given the situations developing off the field. What Waqar failed to do was to realize the current situation and requirements of the team and to actually make it move forwards.

It is quickly becoming a fashion in Pakistan Cricket to be content with having no drama. The results are of little importance as long as the players stay away from the media spot light. The Afridi-Waqar and then Misbah-Waqar regime can be thanked for feeling good about themselves and giving each other a pat on the back without really achieving any thing of substance. Lulling Pakistan Cricket to be content with bashing the lower ranked sides and losing the games that really matter is a philosophy that has to come to an end now.

Pakistani fans through out the nineties and to some extent the early 2000’s have been spoiled on a specific brand of Cricket. The come from behind, impulsive, passion driven overtly dependent upon momentum style of play that has so strongly imprinted itself on the minds of the fan and those running the sport that somewhere in the middle the Cricket wagon hit a rut, one by one started losing all it’s wheels and now finds itself at the bottom of a steep ditch because no one bothered to check if the strategy being enforced is best for the personnel at hand or not. The phrase the “team is in rebuilding phase” has been thrown around a lot without under standing what the nuances of rebuilding actually entail. It is not just a change in the players but with the change has to come a mentality shift. A shift away from the over simplistic psyche that has started to plague Pakistan Cricket, towards a more methodological effort that incorporates the use of tactics, strategy and a horses for courses approach.

Pakistan Cricket and its administrators have to come to terms with the fact that this is not the team of the past, oozing with talent and ability that pre-dominantly requires a man manager but instead is a squad, full of under achieving mostly average players that need sense and temperament drilled into them. The people in charge seem to be at a loss on how to take the team forward and as a result a period of stagnation has ensued soon to result in further decline.

The Pakistan Cricket team is in dire need of a batting coach, some one who can teach the guys a few things about mental toughness and temperament, on how to build an innings and make the most of their ability and more importantly how to play around their weaknesses. They need a TACTICIAN who strategizes for every game and every scenario selects the best combination and utilizes each player in a role that suits his ability the best. Some one who knows how to get the best out of mediocrity and extract the best out of the resources at hand. Waqar was never a good option for this but now with his departure the board has a chance to set things rolling in the right direction.

Stephen Fleming jumps to mind, the greatest captain of his age, in times when other sides were clearly equipped with better players and natural talent in abundance he was able to keep N.Z afloat and competing against the best. Being a batsman is of course a big plus and who better than him as master planner who knows how to utilize his resources best. The fact that he is an excellent coach to boot with having a successful stint with the Chennai Super Kings should push his case further. This is a no-brainer really given what the Pakistan team needs and if the likes of Mickey Arthur can be put in a wish list the least the PCB can do is approach Fleming as well.

Fleming although just a hypothetical option, is more an example of how the board should be approaching this conundrum. Identifying and coming to terms with the team’s problems and shortfalls and work up from there instead of picking names out of a hat would be a good thought to begin with.