Saturday, 25 August 2012

Latif lauds Akram’s appointment as bowling coach

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board on Friday confirmed former fast bowler, Muhammad Akram as the bowling coach for the national team. Lauding the decision, former captain and Wicket-keeper, Rashid Latif believes that the decision would have a significant impact on the Pakistan team as a whole. “I know him (Akram) for years. He is a hard-worker and knows the art of man-management which is the key to modern coaching methodology”, said Rashid Latif, while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.

“Akram is qualified and familiar with the philosophy of modern coaching. I hope he will treat the players equally, and deal with them accordingly as well. I am sure he is capable of doing it.” added Latif.

Muhammad Akram, who is based in England, will join the Pakistan squad in the UAE for the series against Australia.

The lanky former pace-man, Akram has played nine Tests and 23 one-day international matches for Pakistan between 1995 and 2001. He has also represented Sussex, Surrey, Essex and Northamptonshire on the English county circuit.

On a question Rashid Latif was of the view that Akram’s experience should be utilised more at the academy and at the junior level. He added that the Pakistan Cricket Board should opt for a spin bowling coach as well. “Whatmore and Akram would make a good combination which will serve the team well. As far as the spin department is concerned, there is no harm in hiring a separate individual for it. In my view Saqlain Mushtaq is the fitting man for the job”, concludes Latif, who himself represented Pakistan in 37 test matches from 1992 to 2003.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Shahid Ali Khan bounces back on Akbar’s accusations

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey team’s performance in the recently concluded Olympics in London has broadened the already existing gap between former Hockey stars even further. In the meantime the debate on team’s selection for the mega event got stimulated yet again when the discarded Goalkeeper Salman Akbar opened a new front against former goalies – Shahid Ali Khan and Ahmed Alam. In his latest column for Dawn (, the veteran goal-keeper - playing club hockey in Holland - questioned the coaching techniques being used by Pakistan’s goal-keeping coaches at junior and senior levels. He wrote that they were not aware of the modern techniques so they forced keepers to adopt the old styles which were now irrelevant.

On the other hand, while dismissing Akbar’s observations, Shahid Ali Khan said that with this very technique he had produced quality Goal-keepers over the years, which includes Salman Akbar as well. On Salman Akbar’s performance in the training camp, Shahid Ali Khan minced no words in terming it below-par. He also admitted that he was not in favour of calling him (Salman) from Holland.
“In comparison with Imran Shah and Imran Butt, the performance of Salman Akbar in the training camp was ordinary. Before the mega event, performance of both Imran Shah and Imran Butt was good, and dropping one of them to accommodate Salman Akbar would have been unjust.” said Shahid Ali Khan, while talking to this correspondent.

“I was actually not in favour of calling Salman Akbar from Holland, but the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) wanted to give him (Salman) a chance to prove his metal. Also, even if I was in his favour then the selection committee wouldn’t have picked him because they were not impressed too.” added Shahid Ali Khan.

“With Imran Shah, Pakistan finished 7th, but I feel, if Salman Akbar was there then we probably would have finished last”, said Shahid Ali Khan, who played 135 matches for Pakistan and was considered as one of the best goalkeepers in the game.

Terming the team’s performance as satisfactory during the London Olympics, he said that Pakistan played well above the expectations. “Only two games were bad, and that too were against the top ranking teams. Because of the performance we also qualified for the Champions Trophy. The overall performance was satisfactory”, concludes Shahid Ali Khan.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Zulqarnain and his latest queries

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Pakistan test wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Hyder has come out of hibernation and once again the target of his onslaught is none other than Kamran Akmal.

Not so long ago - after apologising to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the run-away episode - the lanky wicketkeeper made his way back to the domestic cricket and did really well.

The latest twist to the tale came as Zulqarnain posted a message on his Facebook profile on Wednesday. He wrote and I quote with a bit of adjustment “The ICC didn’t clear Kamran Akmal but the PCB, its selectors and other members did. What a justice? One thief goes and another comes in. Lot of stories about selectors and corruption will surface soon”

On the face of it these allegations have no substance whatsoever and this is the very question asked by this correspondent on which Zulqarnain Hyder replied that he would soon present three questions before the media. He added that he was taking this step along with his lawyer “in the best interest of the game”.

The wicketkeepers said his lawyer will hold a press conference soon, and will present following three ‘relevant’ questions.

1. What was the reason of sidelining Kamran Akmal?
2. The ICC’s clearance letter should be made public.
3. Names of the PCB integrity committee members who questioned Akmal should be made public along with their findings.

“I am doing it in the national interest and for the betterment of the game of Cricket. My lawyer will also probe into the documents presented by Kamran Akmal before the Integrity Committee. Furthermore a bond should be signed by me and Kamran Akmal, and whoever fails to prove his point should be sent to jail for 5 years”, said Zulqarnain Hyder

Zulqarnain Hyder’s latest allegations seem as fragile as his earlier claims, but this is for certain that this new outburst would not bring any good for him.

Previously in 2010, Zulqarnain had fled to London from a team camp in Dubai without informing the PCB after receiving “death threats”. He also retired from international cricket but later withdrew his decision.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Inconsistent policies prior to Olympic led to debacle – Hassan Sardar

By Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: The below par performance of the Pakistan Hockey team at the Olympics rightfully irked the nation and former greats are no exception. On team greens’ below-par performance at the mega event, one the most celebrated stars of Pakistan’s hockey history, and arguably the best centre forward Pakistan has ever produced, Hassan Sardar, minced no word in putting the blame on the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), saying that the inconsistency in the policies, only weeks before the London event, had an adverse effect on the team’s overall performance. Hassan Sardar said that if the senior players were to be selected then it should have been done at least six months before the mega event so that the oldies would have worked hard on their fitness level.

“Only weeks before the Olympics, the fate of some senior players was uncertain. A few players were penalised for violating the PHF code of conduct, however were mysteriously included in the team eventually. This clearly shows the uncertainty in PHF’s priorities”, said Hassan Sardar while talking to this correspondent for News One TV

The former captain said that Pakistan conceded too many goals in the competition which is indicative of the fact that the defence of the team was relatively weak. “Pakistan’s goal-keeper and defence were badly exposed during the Olympics, and the inability of the forward line to assist the defence was the main reason for that. Unlike other teams Pakistan players were not fit enough to come back all the way from opponent’s goal to assist the defenders. A huge gap between attack and defence cost Pakistan badly”, added the former captain, who was part of the gold medal winning National Hockey Team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

After retiring, Hassan Sardar later managed the Pakistani Hockey Team. He has also served as the Chief Selector of Pakistan hockey team.

On a question the former great said during the matches against Great Britain and South Africa the number of goals conceded by the Pakistan team was alarming. “After the match against Great Britain, the number of goals conceded against South Africa was alarming for Pakistan's defence but then it was too late to devise a fitting strategy against Australia.”, concluded Hassan Sardar