Mohsin Khan © Getty Images

By Saj Sadiq

A swashbuckling opening batsman in his playing days, Mohsin Khan was thrust into the limelight in his most recent role as Pakistan’s coach and was deemed responsible for an incredible 3-0 victory against the then worlds No 1 Test side England. Under his tutelage, Pakistan also won Test series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and became a force to be reckoned with, particularly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, his period of fame did not last long as he was replaced by Dav Whatmore within weeks of the Pakistani victory in the UAE.

Mohsin has also held a number of key operational and administrative roles at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), including chief selector, and since his axing from the head coach role, Khan has followed the progress of the Pakistan team closely.

In an exclusive interview with Mohsin spoke about whether he would consider returning as head coach if asked, Whatmore’s progress as coach and Pakistan’s disappointing 4-1 loss to South Africa in the one day series. (PP): If the Pakistan Cricket Board approached you to become head coach once again in future, would you be willing to take up the role?

Mohsin Khan (MK): I’ve served my country as a player, also worked in various roles within Pakistan cricket, worked as regional manager of Sindh regional cricket, worked as a selector, then chief selector and then the coaching assignment of the senior Pakistan team was given to me on a temporary basis. I have served my country in any role they have wanted me to take up and there is no reason why I would turn them down if they approached me again. Yes, if the PCB asked me to take up the role of head coach then I would accept the offer and I would be very happy to take up the role provided it is at the right time.

PP: With the benefit of hindsight, do you think appointing Dav Whatmore was a mistake by the Pakistan Cricket Board?

MK: The board made a mistake by ignoring Pakistanis for the role and by ignoring one of its own and instead bringing in someone who they thought was special. We were doing well as a team. We were winning matches, the players were performing, the players were playing as a unit, the combination was good, there was a killer instinct and there was a tremendous fighting spirit. But then the decision makers disturbed the whole set-up and made a decision that was not for the betterment of Pakistan cricket, rather they made a decision based on personal interests and motives.

PP: Personal interests and motives, can you elaborate on that?

MK: I don’t blame Dav Whatmore at all. He is trying his best in the role of head coach, instead I blame the people who brought him into the role and who were adamant that he should be appointed. I blame the people who were responsible for bringing Whatmore in. The people who brought Whatmore in should be held accountable and the whole way in which he was appointed should be examined by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister should also look into why certain individuals involved in Pakistan cricket made decisions regarding the head coach vacancy based on their personal motives.

PP: We’ve seen a below par performance from Pakistan in the one day series against South Africa, the signs didn’t look good did they?

MK: Of late the team has gone downhill, the spirit doesn’t seem to be there, the body language is poor and there seems to be a total lack of enthusiasm from the players. Pakistan plays its best cricket when there is a spirit in the group, when they play for each other, but that is just not apparent at the moment.

PP: We are hearing that there may be communication problems between the coach and the players and that is why Whatmore may be replaced, do you think that is the case?

MK: No I don’t think that’s an issue at all. Whilst appreciating that not all the boys are fluent in English, the language of cricket is universal. All the boys know what’s expected of them and the coach knows what’s expected of him. It’s not a case of English or Urdu or Gujarati or any other language, it’s more to do with the relationship between the coach and the players as that is what matters the most. The problem isn’t about communication rather it’s about the relationship which doesn’t appear to have blossomed between the coach and the players.

It’s a two way process, the players respond to the coach and the coach responds to the players. It has to work both ways and the coach and the players have to take their share of the blame when the team loses and likewise share the glory and adulation when the team wins. It’s very important to treat the players well. As a coach you have to be a friend, a brother sometimes, sometimes a father figure and sometimes you have to be like an enemy to a player who isn’t giving 100% to the cause of the team.

PP: You are obviously still in touch with the players, do you think your regime as head coach was entirely different to Dav Whatmore?

MK: I didn’t work any magic, I had no magic wand that I waved at the players when I was in charge but my approach was very simple and all I would say to them is that you and I are Pakistanis so let’s represent our country with sincerity and honesty. The players responded tremendously and worked very hard for me.

I wasn’t there to teach those boys how to play cricket, rather I was there to offer them some tips and advice and to administer a game plan and strategy with the captain and players. My approach was simple, I just told each and every player that they were the best, that you are going to succeed so go and prove it out there on the field and that really helped them with their mental toughness. I got a fantastic response from the players and had no issues at all with their effort and attitude.

PP: You were recently linked with the role of chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, are you in the running for that job?

MK: I think Najam Sethi is working under very testing circumstances and it cannot be easy to work in such a situation. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the role and yes I was asked if I would be applying for the role of chairman of PCB, but I’ve not yet made up my mind and speculation linking me with the role is premature.

(Saj Sadiq is Senior Editor at PP, from where the above article has been reproduced. He can be followed on Twitter at @Saj_PakPassion)