KARACHI: The “forced” change in Sialkot Stallions’ team management by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) seems to have affected their preparations for the Champions League Twenty20 – which is just over a month away, lamented the Sialkot region president Zulfiqar Malik.
With the event fast approaching, the seven-time national Twenty20 champions have been unable to chalk out a comprehensive plan for preparations with players deterred after the PCB’s decision to change their manager.
Sialkot will be Pakistan’s first domestic side to appear in the coveted tournament run by the Indian cricket board. They will start their campaign with qualifying events where they will have to prove their worthiness before the Auckland Aces (New Zealand) and Hampshire (England) on October 9 and 11 respectively in South Africa.
While the Stallion’s squad remains the same, the loss of regular manager Naeem Akhtar has put preparations at odds as former Pakistan team manager Colonel Naushad gets a feel of his charges.
Fortunately, coach Naveed Anjum – who had been transferred to Faislabad a couple of months ago – has been recalled.
Malik feels shuffle has not only spoilt the joy of the historic achievement but it has also affected his team’s chances in the tournament.
“We are under crisis,” Malik told The Express Tribune from London.
“The players are feeling low because they were close to their manager. Naeem had been the team manager for the past few years and the team won four times under his command.”
Elaborating, Malik added that former manager Akhtar was “a core part of the game plan and his absence has definitely threatened our chances.”
“I’ve protested many times but the board paid no heed,” Malik stated.
According to Malik, the PCB said that the change was made to ensure better communication between the organisers and the media to avoid controversies.
“I requested that if the change is inevitable, then we should have Naeem as an assistant manager but the PCB turned down the request,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, Akhtar said he would have already started a training camp, if only he had not been reassigned.
“This is injustice,” said Akhtar, adding that he went to the PCB headquarters several times but nobody provided him any reasons behind his removal.
“If communication skills were the reason, then I can challenge this claim,” he said.
Preparations plan finalised: PCB official
Meanwhile, a PCB official negated the impression that the Shoaib Malik-led team was struggling to prepare for the Champions League.
“The plan has been formed,” said the PCB official.
“The team will have a training camp for a week later this month and will depart in first week of October for South Africa.”
“The camp was not possible currently as many players were not available due to their commitments with Pakistan national team and other foreign leagues.”