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May 12, 1999


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We are not so worried about Javedbhai's exit

Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram close up
Pic: Clive Mason/Allsport

The World Cup is less than a week away, and there have been reports about Pakistan cricket going on the backfoot once again after a brilliant start to the year. Stories and rumours have been protracted for far too long, to demoralise the team. I have been astounded by the stories floated by the press about the various reasons for Javed Miandad's exit.

Let me clear the air once and for all. When we reached Karachi from Sharjah, I did not anticipate that Javedbhai was planning to resign from the post. On our way to Karachi, we were busy discussing about the preparations for the World Cup. Javedbhai did not give any signals till then about what was playing on his mind. When I received the news, I called him up to enquire about the reason behind his decision. Javedbhai told me that he did not have a problem with the players or me at all. He cited personal reasons, and added that he was not very happy with the way the Board dealt with him. If the players were having a problem with the coach, it would have been so obvious that it would have shown in our results.

Wasim with Miandad
Pic: Allsport
The role of a coach is to get the boys going during the practice sessions, work on their fitness with the team physio and see that the boys are taking their practice sessions seriously and with enthusiasm. On the field it is the captain that changes the course of the match, not the coach. I make the field placements and changes in the bowling. If I don't perform on the field, what can the coach do? That is the reson why we are not so worried about Javedbhai's exit. The players want to work hard, give it their best shot and win, so whoever the coach is it does not matter to us.

Wasim making field placements
Pic: Lawrence Griffiths/Allsport
So all those rumours which have been floating around will effectively be put to rest, and maybe the attention will now be diverted to the players and not the coach. The guys are not very happy about Javedbhai leaving us, but I guess it has not affected them much. They are in another frame of mind and I think it is not going to be easy to distract them during the World Cup.

I must mention the enormous effort put in by our new assistant coach, Richard Pybus, and the effect it has had on the team. The main reason for this is the revolutionary training sessions he has organised. Believe me, I have not seen anything of this kind either in India or Pakistan. His methods and ideas are very different from what I have been going through in the past 14-15 years of my playing career. He has been training us more on a mental level because he, and even I, believe that the game is played to a large extent in the mind. He has got us to visualise before a match, imagine before a game. So all the psyche is coming into it.

Pybus has introduced exercises in the water. We did some running in the water, also some abdominal exercises in the water. Its a lot of fun, so it's not another boring practice day.

Everybody is enjoying the practice sessions and the new drills are really interesting. The advantage with us is that we are on a winning note. We have been doing very well, so a change in the coach will not affect us much. In fact, Pybus' revolutionary training program has created an extra awareness about the importance of being fit and training in a methodical manner. It is a great combination -- our flair with the disciplined training methods of the South Africans.

Mushtaq Mohammed has joined us three days back and it is nice to have him back. He has been with us earlier when we won the Carlton and United Series Down Under, and he knows all the guys. Mushy gets along very well with the guys and the fact that he has worked with us earlier will mean he will find it easy to gel with the squad. Mushy will help us mentally, and he is one of the greatest players of his time and it is great to have him back. One thing about Mushy is that he is an innovative guy who is open to new ideas, unlike other older players who are stuck up on old ways and techniques.

Abdur Razzaq
Pic: Pradeep Mandhani
In the first match which we played against Derbyshire, we experimented with Afridi despite the knowledge that his style of batting is not conducive for the seam-friendly tracks of England. Also, Abdur Razzaq was promoted up the order and he did not let us down. Abdur Razzaq is a very good one-day player and I have full faith in his caliber as a genuine all-rounder. We did not play him in India because we could not accomodate a fourth seamer in the squad, since we had to play Saqlain as the spinner.

The reason behind this is that I want to play positive cricket. I don't want to put in so many batsmen that the bowling gets weak. I would like to have six bowlers in the side. Everyone is talking of playing slowly in the initial overs and keeping wickets for the latter part of the innings. I believe that we must go out in a positive frame of mind and if the ball is there to be hit, then I have instructed my batsmen to go for it. Of course, not the same slam-bang that we normally practice in the sub-continent, but we dont want to play so slowly that we score only 25-30 runs in the first 15 overs.

The reason why we can't be playing Wasti immediately is because he is a pure batsman and I need six bowlers in the team. We can't accomodate him in the middle-order because I see Malik making that slot in the middle his own. Our immediate goal is to get into the Super Six and then rethink from there onwards.

As far as the team is concerned, I think all eleven of my players are match-winners. The boys are confident and if the guys play together as a team, then I see the team going all the way. The youngsters who should do well are Shoaib Akhtar, Abdur Razzaq, Yousuf Youhanna, Azhar Mahmood, Saqlain and Afridi. The way these guys have fielded is amazing -- their fielding has lifted the side, and with Pybus' contribution, it can only get better.

There is no denying the fact that our bowling is our strength, and we bank more on our bowling. Our bowling department is strong and has variety. We have left arm pace as well as right arm pace, a world class leg spinner and the best off spinner in the world. We have the ability and attack to bowl sides out.

I would just like to make one last note about the Duke's ball that the South Africans have been complaining about. Yes, the seam is smaller than usual, but I don't worry about such things because if I start worrying, then my team starts worrying. I think that if it is a disadvantage, it is uniform for all the teams. And whatever the nature of the ball, there is no point complaining, after all we have to play with it.

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