Pakistan need a foreign coach: Lawson

Former coach advocates hiring of foreigner who is free from influence.

Faras Ghani August 23, 2011

KARACHI: Former Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has urged the country’s cricket board to appoint a foreign coach as Waqar Younis’ successor, arguing that only an influence-free character will be able to take the team forward without succumbing to pressure from various quarters.

Lawson, who was dumped as coach 15 months into his appointment by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ijaz Butt, is currently with the Indian Premier League side Kochi, and has advocated the hiring of a foreigner who should be aided by a full set of specific coaches in order for Pakistan to rise from the controversies and indifferent form on the field.

“I said it when I left as well, Pakistan need a foreign coach,” Lawson told The Express Tribune from Australia. “Whether you come from Karachi or Lahore, the pressure on you from external sources doesn’t let you do the work properly. A foreign coach won’t have that excess baggage. He won’t worry about politics but will just concentrate on making the best team he can.”

Critics, however, have discarded the idea of a foreign coach succeeding in Pakistan, not just because of the language barrier but also the lack of knowledge of the system through which Pakistan cricket functions. Bob Woolmer, though, managed to remain coach for almost three years but Lawson, immensely popular with the players, failed to last half that period.

“In my time, language wasn’t a problem. The common language was cricket and that’s all they had to understand. In my Kochi team, some players don’t speak Hindi so they communicate in English. It’s just an excuse of not appointing a foreign coach despite all the experience and assistance he can bring to Pakistan cricket.”

Lawson, who played 46 Tests and 79 One-Day Internationals for Australia, also blasted former captain Shahid Afridi for his run-in with the board which has led the team to a captaincy crisis.

“He’s playing well enough and I’d love to see him in the team. However, he needs to realise he’s not the most important person in the team. He’s a part and that needs to dawn on him. He doesn’t accept criticism and thinks he’s bigger and better than the team. That won’t lead him anywhere.”

Ruling out a return as Pakistan’s coach, Lawson did, however, predict a struggle for the PCB in finding a decent long-term coach quickly due to the way individuals have been treated in the past.

“They will have a very, very difficult time. Not many will be willing to trust them because of how they’ve acted in the past but I’ll still tell the PCB to get a foreign coach even if it’s a short, six-month contract. It’s not so much the situation but the chairman’s reputation just isn’t good enough for him to invite foreign coaches over to Pakistan.”

Appointments in the last decade

Sep 1998          Javed Miandad takes over from Haroon Rasheed

Apr 1999          Miandad replaced by Mushtaq Mohammad

Aug 1999          Mushtaq replaced by Wasim Raja

Nov 1999          Richard Pybus becomes the first foreign coach

Dec 1999          Intikhab Alam takes over from Pybus

Mar 2000         Miandad replaces Intikhab

Apr 2001          Miandad replaced by Pybus

Sep 2001          Mudassar Nazar takes over from Pybus

Sep 2002          Nazar replaced by Pybus

Mar 2003         Miandad replaces Pybus

July 2004         Bob Woolmer replaces Miandad

July 2007         Lawson appointed coach after Woolmer’s death

Oct 2008          Lawson replaced by Intikhab

Mar 2010          Waqar replaces Intikhab

Aug 2011           Waqar announces decision to step down

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th,  2011.