The knives have been sharpened, the targets identified, the butchering (read bickering) is in full motion as the PCB prepares to say the last rites.
Based on the recommendations of a ‘fact-finding committee’ that has a murky reputation of its own in the presence of the much maligned PCB cricket committee’s chief Shakil Sheikh, PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan is preparing a course of action that will send the present T20 team management packing — the coaching staff is also set to bid adieu.
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Waqar Younis and Intikhab Alam’s ‘leaked reports’ are attempts at post-mortem of a chastening World T20 and Asia Cup campaigns.
It would be unfair to question their intentions for now and rather than closely examining the content, the media ‘chastity brigade’ has labelled their work as an attempt to shift the blame on the players especially the leader of the now sunk ship, Shahid Afridi.
Let’s start with Intikhab’s report first. While some of his observations and recommendations about captaincy, fielding and fitness standards make a lot of sense; (Intikhab wants a fitness camp before the England tour) the hindrance to the adherence of his recommendations comes from his own heavily tarnished reputation.
Intikhab is that one immovable object at the PCB’s corridor of power who has withstood all probes, clean-ups, rebuilding, downsizing, and ‘wholesome changes’ in a career that spans seemingly more than a whole millennium!
This isn’t the first report he has produced and the fear is that this might not be his last either since the grapevine is that the octogenarian chairman, is going to shuffle Intikhab from one post to another, he might still return with another post-mortem to produce as the manager/coach of the 2019 World Cup team.
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On the other hand, Waqar has penned down as many as 13 recommendations in his report outside his castigation of Afridi, Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shahzad — something that the media is not highlighting as they are primarily focused on what he said to the PCB rather than the contents of the report.
Besides asking for more power for the head coach, the recommendations stress on improvement of player’s diet, fitness and approach to the game from a junior level. Waqar also mentions the need of an exchange program where upcoming players can be sent abroad for training and honing their skills.
The most obvious, but the one often ignored, demand by selectors and team management is ‘making fitness the number one priority’. In the World T20 alone, the Pakistan squad was full of lazy bodies that looked completely out of sync with the demands of the modern game.
Even Afridi, once a razor-sharp fielder, looked jaded and short on fitness. Waqar’s recommendations are though almost impossible to implement since the PCB’s decision makers have more or less made up their mind on sacking him, his report is likely to be sent to a dustbin via a paper shredder soon.
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The ensuing bad-blood is a result of Waqar’s fall-out with both the team members and the PCB. Many feel that he has burned his boats and redemption from here is next to impossible, the future of some of his judicious recommendations is set to be the same.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2016.
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