ODI Debutant
Feb 19, 2005
1. A bit about yourself would help. I presume youre in the age range of 24-30 am I correct?
24-30! Oh boy, do I really sound that old?! I am actually 22. Real name: Kamran.

2. Any particular player(batting and bowling) in recent pakistan history (90 onwards) who you think was wasted by the administration (poor guidance or otherwise) .

If you look at some of the cricketers that made their debut in the mid to late 90s, who most thought had the requisite skill, many of them have not really progressed as expected: Mahmood, Razzaq (especially as a bowler, but even his batting at Test match level has disappointed), Saqlain, Muhammad Wasim, Shahid Nazir, Hasan Raza, Muhammad Zahid, and Imran Nazir (debut in 1999). Overall that is a fair bit of talent that has, hitherto, not come to fruition on a consistent basis.

The PCB at times has not helped. For instance Imran Nazir at a time when he should have been with the Test squad cultivating his batting, he was being whisked away to play stupid slog tournaments, such as ‘Double wicket’. No one under the age of 20 should be playing these tournaments because they are more likely to retard development than enhance it for an individual below 20. Imran’s game would have evolved much more nicely had he been kept with the Test squad, learning from the likes of Inzi and Saeed.

In addition Pakistan in the 90s – with the exception at times of Wasim Akram – have had average captains who have struggled to get the best out of their players on a consistent basis.

At the same time though, players have to take responsibility themselves too. Nazir, for instance has regressed and has simply not improved or thought enough about his weaknesses. The same applies to others. Whilst they have not always been helped by the PCB, or by poor captaincy, they have not always helped themselves either.

3. What qualities do you look for in a player (batsman or bowling) For the batsman - which factor do you take into account to rate him higher over others? is it technique, grace under pressure or flamboyance? Same goes for bowling.

I look for something distinctive, something that separates a player from the rest. That separating factor could be stroke range or exceptional calm in a crisis for a batsman, pace or late swing or great line and length for a bowler. Often a sign of talent is when someone makes something look easy, whereas others make it look harder.

In addition good and great players tend to have ample belief and confidence. They look in control. There is a presence and at times even a sense of expectation about them. A further factor is desire and fight. Even when not in the best form, they tend to hang in (e.g. Inzi in the Jubilee match). Finally, I like courageous players.

Also what do you think are the flaws in your approach?

It is highly subjective, and not easy to test. It is therefore limited in terms of its heuristic usefulness.

4. the Pakistani team has carried the tag of Unpredictable for quite some time now, do you think it would be a good idea or a desirable one to change that now. Should we go for a strictly professional approach or should we let the element of unpredictability remain in our ranks?

Inconsistency an unpredictability in part manifest themselves because of the nature of Pakistani society and history. (This is why a social analysis of Pakistani cricket is needed.) As such even if you adopt a ‘professional approach’, inconsistency and unpredictability is likely to remain to an extent. A strong, respected captain is more likely to draw some consistency than a stated approach.

As it happens Pakistan’s unpredictability has added to its allure. To watch Pakistan has been to watch a side that is at once fragile, yet dangerous.

Whatever happens in the future, I hope Pakistani players continue to approach the game with the flair they have displayed in their history.

5. In your opinion what is the main reason behind Pakistan's new bowlers to not swing as much. Is it their action or soemthing more than that?

Reverse swing: many of the outfields in Pakistan are less dry than they used to be. This has militated against reverse swing. In Sami case his action is also high which might mean he does not get as much reverse as Shaoib, though he will still be able to reverse swing it, when the conditions allow – especially given the whip in his action.

Conventional swing: they do swing it on occasions, like the recent Faisalabad Test. But often they bowl the wrong lengths. Sami in particular bowls too short at times. Akhtar’s action is less side on now, which does not help his away swing, but he still gets it on occasions.

6. Your thoughts on Butt,Hameed, Gul and Shabbir? and Sami.

Butt: not only talented, but thinks about his batting. Bats out of the crease to swingers, and looks for quick singles, not just boundaries. Perhaps needs to tighten his defense a bit though.

Hameed: has talent and confidence to take on the opposition. Temperament lets him down at times. Struggling to cope with the downturn in form at the moment.

Gul: Tall and gets bounce. If he can consistently put the ball in the right spot, he should pose problems to the opposition batsman. Could perhaps do with putting some meat on, and increasing his speed a little.

Shabbir: has the attributes – bounce, swing, and seam, but poor fitness, and dodgy action let him down. Batting and fielding very poor.

Sami: highly talented, but does not put the ball in the right areas enough. In general he bowls too short in Tests, though he did seem to pitch it up more against S.L. in the recent Test. Head falls away when he tries to bowl too fast, and hence loses control.

7. The series in Australia: do you think it should be taken seriosuly to gauge potential stars? how would we fare in the Perth test. Should we read too much into our defeats or the manner in which we are defeated?

At the moment the inexperienced side is struggling to adapt to the bounce and pace of the Perth pitch. Even the experienced and high quality Indian batting line-up struggled last year at Perth.

How well Pakistan perform in the Perth Test will largely depend on how much progress they have made in adjusting to the peculiar conditions. Whilst there’s life there’s hope!

As for potential stars: those that succeed in Australia will demonstrate that they have the talent and temperament to belong in international cricket. Those that fail, will need to show in the long term that they have learnt from the experience.

8. Do you think that Wasim/Waqar or Saeed Anwar should have been allowed to stay a little longer? and has their ouster hurt us badly?

The fitness of all 3 of them were suspect for the longer version of the game. Thus their ouster was perhaps justified.

Of course whenever you lose 3 high quality cricketers, especially great bowlers, it does hurt. Great bowlers are rare commodities. Moreover in general selectors should be aware that evolution is better than revolution in the context of team selection. Making too many changes in one go is not advisable.

However in this instance, Waqar was a declining force, Wasim and Saeed only played intermittently in Tests prior to their retirements, and as such the transition was made a little easier.

But the underlying problems for Pakistan are structural and little has been put in place to resolve this. In one respect the dropping of Wasim, Waqar and Saeed deflected attention from this aspect – despite Imran Khan’s best efforts to draw attention to it. The PCB needs to look for long term solutions.

9. and now my pet question: What are your areas of interest and would you care to expound on any of them?

Anything that makes me think deeply, or makes me laugh, I like.

10. this has alwas intrigued me: the thought behind 'ggm' is that a code? ha!

I picked that name 4 years ago when I joined PP, and to be honest I have little idea for the reason it was chosen!

11. do you think England has a good chance of winning the Ashes? are they good enough or promising enough?

A lot can change between now and next summer. Much will depend on the form of Mcgrath and Warne, and whether the English batsman have enough belief and quality to repel the attack. In addition if Harmison can take on Australia and not back away, if attacked, then England’s chances will increase.

More generally England will need to display a lot of resolve. On previous occasions it has not taken a lot to break it when they have played Australia. They have to show a lot more resilience and belief this time.

For that, one suspects they will need some form, so they will need to defeat South Africa this winter.

12. who are his Pak and non Pak favourite players of all time and why ?

Of current players Lara is my favourite. Inspiring, interesting, unpredictable, compelling, and instinctive, he captures the imagination. There is flair, there is flamboyance, there is class. At times there has been frailty too, which has curiously only added to making the genius a compelling figure.

Of the past, Wasim Akram more than any other inspired my interest in cricket. There was inspiring passion about his bowling, and an explosive energy to it. He blended pace, with guile, like no bowler of his generation. He fused the daring, adventurous, impulsive elements of his bowling, with thoughtfulness and calculated weaves contained in his deliveries. With the whippy whirl of the arms, there was fire and fury that generated a force of its very own. No bowler could confound batsman like Wasim, and no one encapsulated the phrase maverick magician more than him. Like Shane Warne he challenged orthodoxies, and did it with skill that hypnotized opponents.

Wasim, Lara and Warne were three geniuses who have not only beguiled with their skill, but have also attracted fair deal of controversy, and are intensely disliked by many of their own country men and women.

Just goes to show: curious thing, genius.

Many thanks for all the questions.