Discussing future of Whatmore is detrimental to Pakistan and the coach when the touring of SA is not over yet

Dav Whatmore’s appointment came as a surprise last year after the interim coach, Mohsin Khan, had led the team to a 3-0 whitewash of the then World’s No1 team, England. However, his tenure has not been a complete failure with an Asia Cup win, a semi-final appearance in the World T20 and a 2-1 ODI win against India in India © AFP

Dr Amyn Malik

Pakistan’s head coach, Dav Whatmore, has suffered severe criticism at the hands of former players and administrators.

Moin Khan, the former captain, recently showed his dismay at the performance of the national team in the Test series against South Africa.

Furthermore, this has opened up the debate on whether we need a foreign coach at all. Although this is a crucial topic, I will focus on the calls for Whatmore’s sacking.

I disagree on the timing of these comments.

While Pakistan drowns itself in misery, it should not be forgotten that the tour is not over yet. Pakistan have still to play the One-Day International (ODI) series in South Africa this month and these negative comments would hurt whatever little morale and confidence that is left within the team camp and would put the team under unnecessary pressure. These comments will also undermine the position and authority of the coach himself.

I feel that South Africa has been a difficult country for visiting teams lately, though New Zealand was able to win the ODI series there earlier in January.

Much has already been written about the performance of the Pakistan team against South Africa and I will try not to repeat that here. On that note, Pakistan failed because of our batting, which traditionally has been Pakistan’s weaker suit.

This traditional weakness combined with the bowling attack that South Africa possesses left Pakistan with little room to wriggle. The South African bowling line-up has devastated many teams over the past few years especially in their own backyard, which is certainly the most difficult place for batsmen in the world, even for teams that have stronger batting line-ups like India, Australia and Sri Lanka.

So Pakistan’s batting failure should not have come as a total surprise to anyone, and to blame the coach entirely for this is unfair.

A coach has to play the cards that he is dealt with. Pakistan does not have technically correct batsmen who can thrive in seamier-friendly conditions. That is something that needs to be addressed at the grass-root level.

At international level, apart from minor adjustments, not much can be done about the technique. To expect Whatmore, or for that matter any other coach, to do major technical correctness of batsmen at the highest level is too much to ask for.

To address these problems, Pakistan need to have a more advanced academic system that provides coaching at an earlier stage of development, before bad habits creep into a batsman’s game.

Pakistan also needs to provide more opportunities for foreign tours. Especially for players playing under-19 levels and the ‘A’ team, so that the batsmen can experience foreign conditions and can learn how to play there before they are exposed to them at the highest level.

Whatmore’s appointment came as a surprise last year after the interim coach, Mohsin Khan, had led the team to a 3-0 whitewash of the then World’s No1 team, England. However, his tenure has not been a complete failure with an Asia Cup win, a semi-final appearance in the World T20 and a 2-1 ODI win against India in India.

If we take out the 3-0 beating against South Africa from the equation, then there is little to choose from. Calling for him to resign or be sacked in the middle of a tour is doing grave injustice to the national team.

A review of the performance should take place after the tour is over and allegations of mismanagement investigated, before any decision is taken.

I will defer in my judgment about Whatmore’s tenure till we play South Africa in the UAE. The UAE has been the site of Pakistan’s greatest triumph in the last few years; it is where we held South Africa to a draw and where the revival of the national team began after England’s tour of 2010, provided he is still there!

(Dr Amyn Malik is a research associate of Interactive Research & Development and an AKU graduate from the class of 2010.The above article is reproduced with permission from www. http://tribune.com.pk/)