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Misbah-ul-Haq is the only option to lead Pakistan in World Cup 2015: Asim Kamal

Asim Kamal feels Misbah-ul-Haq (right) should lead and Shahid Afridi support him with his international experience of 18 years © AFP
Asim Kamal feels Misbah-ul-Haq (right) should lead and Shahid Afridi support him with his international experience of 18 years © AFP

By Amir Husain

A left handed middle order batsman known more for his grit than flamboyance, Asim Kamal was termed as a Test match specialist when he debuted for Pakistan against South Africa in 2003. Instead of becoming the tenth Pakistani to score a century on Test debut, he achieved a more eminent and perhaps undesired feat by getting out for 99 runs on Test debut, becoming only the third player to do so after Robert Christiani and Arthur Chipperfield.

Blessed with an unflappable character and an uncomplicated technique, he impressed one and all with a remarkable display of determination in his first Test match. But a middle order already packed with experienced players meant that it was always going to be a struggle for Kamal to establish a place in the national team. Consequently, Kamal played just twelve Test matches, scoring 717 runs with the help of eight fifties at an average of 37.73, with his last Test match being the game against England in 2005 in Lahore.

Currently discarded by the selectors, the 31 year old Kamal plays his First-class cricket for the Port Qasim Authority team. With the end of the current season in First-class cricket, Kamal will be heading to UAE to take part in the Dubai Premier League and then to Florida where he will participate in local league games.

Known for his forthright views on all aspects of Pakistani cricket, Asim Kamal spoke to PakPassion.net about the non-participation of Pakistani players in Indian Premier League (IPL), Mohammad Hafeez’s resignation as T20 captain, a review of Mohammad Akram’s role as bowling coach and the issue of a foreign or local coach for Pakistan.

Absence of Pakistani Players in IPL

“I look at this slightly differently than most Pakistanis. In my view, the holding of the IPL in UAE will open the doors for future participation of Pakistani players. This would not be possible due to political reasons if the IPL was held completely in India. I am convinced that Pakistani players will be included in IPL next year if it’s held again in UAE. Frankly speaking, IPL will lose a lot of it’s charm if Pakistani players are not allowed to participate, especially if this competition is held in UAE again. IPL may be played in front of full houses in Dubai but I have seen people with [Shahid] Afridi and [Saeed]  Ajmal banners in their hands so there is a lot of demand and expectation to see Pakistani players in action there.”

Mohammad Hafeez’s resignation as T20 Captain and possible replacements

“I believe that Mohammad Hafeez resigned under pressure as he had made no such comments in Bangladesh after the team was knocked out of the World T20. Look at Misbah-ul-Haq, he did not resign after his side lost in the 2011 World Cup so why should Hafeez have resigned? As to who will replace Hafeez, I do not believe that a good replacement exists and frankly speaking, I don’t have a good suggestion either. If you are referring to young talents who can step in then we have a bad habit of comparing new players with legends. Take example of Sohaib Maqsood who people compared to Inzamam-ul-Haq after a few innings or Ahmed Shehzad who is put at a par with Virat Kohli! There is a vast difference there as Kohli’s consistency in scoring runs is simply unbeatable. In fact forget Kohli, I will be shocked if you can find me a player of the class of Dinesh Karthik in your lineup!

As for older players, Afridi is being spoken of as a captaincy candidate but don’t you think that he could have won Pakistan the World T20 if he had so much talent in him? I hear that he wants to play in 2015 World Cup as well which is mind boggling for me. I guess he will play in it and Pakistan will also be knocked out of that tournament as well and we will be at square one again. This is how things work in Pakistan.”

“I firmly believe that Pakistan did not take bold decisions to identify future captains for the team. In South Africa, they chose Graeme Smith and in Australia they chose George Bailey. In Pakistan not only do we struggle to find a captain, we also have attitude issues amongst senior players which doesn’t help either. Take the example of the Sri Lankan team in the World T20 this year. Sri Lanka chose Chandimal to captain a side which had such veterans such as Jayawardene and Sangakkara. In fact even more eye-opening was the manner in which Malinga lead the team in the final when Chandimal was dropped in the interest of the team. Would this ever happen in Pakistan?”

Failure of Javed Miandad to help groom future Pakistan players

“We had Javed Miandad serve as Director General of PCB for almost 6 years. He is known for being a great servant of Pakistan cricket but what did he achieve apart from collecting a nice sum of money as a paycheck from the PCB? What possible candidates did he cultivate for captaincy and what did he do to revive Pakistani cricket? It’s not as if he found 4 ideal candidates for captains or 4 brilliant batsmen for the future such that we started to chase down 300+ scores! Instead what we have is a team that gets bowled out for 150!”

Misbah-ul-Haq as captain for 2015 World Cup

“2015 World Cup is almost a year away and in Pakistani cricket, that is a lifetime! However, I am in favour of Misbah-ul-Haq staying as captain as there really is no one else to replace him and he is a very consistent performer. People seem to mention Afridi but let me remind them that a good player can win a game with or without being a captain. So let him show his aggression and help Pakistan win the 2015 World Cup. Let Misbah lead and let Afridi support him with his international experience of 18 years — I am sure if Afridi has so much talent, he can do this for Pakistan. Why does Afridi need to be captain to help Pakistan win the World Cup?”

Role of Coach for Pakistan team

“I am a firm believer that no matter where the coach is from, it’s upto the players themselves to put in the hard yards and improve themselves. Look at Abdul Razzaq, he was an aggressive batsman and an excellent bowler but throughout his career, he did not pay any attention to his fielding. Same goes for Saeed Ajmal who is a World Class bowler but not a good fielder. A coach can only explain – he cannot field for the player.”

“I also feel that in Pakistan, players are brought into the team and then an attempt is made to coach that player whereas other teams bring in a “well coached” player into the international team. We bring in raw players and try and make good players out of them. This simply makes the job of the coach even more difficult and is not the way forward.”

Local or Foreign Coach?

“My view is that foreign coaches are more honest to their job then local ones. They take a lot of pride in their profession and put in 100% when given the opportunity. This has also been my experience with the late Bob Woolmer and also Daryl Foster. The problem is really with our players who don’t take full advantage of the help they are getting from these coaches. At the end of the day, it’s upto the players to understand and pay lip service to the advice given to them.”

Zaheer Abbas as batting Coach/Consultant

Zaheer Abbas was a great batsman of his time, but I felt that a great disservice was done to him by making him batting consultant for the World T20. What experience did he have of playing T20 games? He was unable to help our batsman in this format and he was made to look like a fool but really was that his fault that he was put in that position? We could have easily used Inzamam or Mohammad Yousuf instead. By all means use Zaheer for a longer period of time where he can bring more value to the Pakistan batsmen but he is not suitable for helping in T20 format and I really hold the PCB responsible for this fiasco.”

Mohammad Akram’s performance as bowling coach was disappointing

“I am a great admirer of Mohammad Akram and although he is no longer the Pakistan bowling coach, I have to say that he must take the blame for the non-performance of our bowlers in recent times. On top of that, the way Mohammad Irfan was misused and the way this contributed to his injury is a matter of concern for all. Also picking an injured Umar Gul was also his responsibility as he must have had a say in it.”

(Amir Husain is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net. The above article is reproduced with permission from http://pakpassion.net/)

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