"Pakistani Bowlers Lack Stamina and Physical Fitness" : Sarfraz Nawaz

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PakPassion is proud to present an interview with one of Pakistan's premier bowlers - the father of reverse swing - Sarfraz Nawaz.

Also known for his "no holds barred" views on Pakistani cricket, Sarfraz was kind enough to grant us time to answer a collection of questions put forward by our members in which he spoke of his career, his work with the PCB, his views of our future talent and corruption in cricket.


PakPassion.net: When you started your career, you were the first accomplished fast bowler after Fazal Mahmood and Khan Mohammad. Why do think there were no fast bowlers during that period (in the 1960s)?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
No, there were other good fast bowlers, too – Asif Masood was there, Saleem Altaf was there. Before that, there was Farooq Hamid. There were other bowlers but no one could reverse swing the ball. The others did not have anything else, apart from natural and conventional swing. That’s why it seemed that I was the better bowler.


PakPassion.net: During your playing days, who was the best batsman that you faced?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
One of them was a Pakistani - Hanif Mohammad. He was in his finals days as a cricketer. He looked to be a good batsman. If you talk about international cricket, then Gordon Greenidge is whom I liked. He had a strong defense, too.


PakPassion.net: It is said that fast bowlers enjoying bowling in pairs. Who was the bowling partner that you enjoyed bowling with?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
From 1974 to 1984, Imran Khan was my bowling partner. I used to bowl from one end and he used to bowl from the other end. So we bowled in pairs, albeit on and off, for almost ten years.


PakPassion.net: You have a superb bowling performance under your belt and everyone is well-aware of it: the Melbourne Test where you picked up 7 Australian wickets in a spell while conceding only 1 run. Can you take us through that performance?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
At that time, players like Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell had gone for Kerry Packer [World Series Cricket] while with Pakistan – we had our entire team. Asif Iqbal said to the Australian players that we are playing against a second XI team! Anyway, the Test match started – they [Australia] had a target of 370 odd runs to win. It was the last day and Allan Border’s partnership with Kim Hughes was going strong, so at tea, it looked like Australia would probably win the match easily. Mushtaq Mohammad was the captain, I asked him to give me one more over and I would try to slow down the pace of the match so that we could take the match towards a draw. But after tea, by the grace of God, we got a breakthrough and Border got out. The ball started to swing and we took the new ball. By the grace of Allah, I took 7 wickets for 1 run and Australia who were 305 for 3, were all out for 310. Their 7 wickets fell for just 5 runs so in a spell I got 7 wickets for one run.

PakPassion.net: You mentioned reverse-swing. Nobody had ever talked about it before and in effect, you were the one who discovered it. How did you actually discover it?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
Look many things are discovered in this world – the googly, leg break and chinaman was also discovered. As for reverse swing - I used to do various experiments [with my bowling]. I already knew natural swing, that is, the conventional swing with the new ball. With the old ball – I used to bring the ball in and it used to ‘cut’ a bit after landing on the wicket. It would not swing in air. So I experimented by roughing up one side of the ball and kept the other side shiny, so it used to get a lot of movement. Then I developed this delivery and it came about in the shape of reverse swing.


PakPassion.net: Why did your relationship with Imran Khan deteriorate?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
The relationship deteriorated because when I joined the Pakistan People’s Party and he [Imran Khan] had started a different campaign, he started calling Benazir [Bhutto] and [Asif Ali] Zardari as Mr. 10% and stuff like that. Since this was about party lines, I also started revealing about his antics in the newspapers. Thus our differences began in that way – we don’t have any personal grudges, just political differences.


PakPassion.net: You have been very vocal about Ijaz Butt and the PCB. Ijaz Butt has left now – what do you think of his tenure as the Chairman and what do you think of the new Chairman, Zaka Ashraf?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
Ijaz Butt was very rigid. He made numerous mistakes. He was temperamental and he did not have control over himself. During meetings, he used to fight and walk out of the meetings if people didn’t agree with him. In international meetings, you have to justify yourself in front of others. You don’t have the final say – they are not your servants. This is what he did wrong.

Then England allowed us to play Australia in a neutral venue and then they even offered to have India play us but then Butt started a fight with the ECB - it was big blow for Pakistan.

In his final days as chairman, I was approached by the PCB to train youngsters at the Fast Track camp for emerging fast bowlers. It doesn't mean that I had made a deal with Ijaz Butt. I had accepted the offer for sake of betterment of Pakistan cricket and young fast bowlers. I coached the bowlers - but interestingly, even then we never came face to face.

As for the new Chairman, we had a meeting a couple of days ago. We discussed cricket issues, the 2015 ODI World Cup, T20I World Cups 2012 and 2014, domestic cricket, fast bowling and the new rule regarding two new balls - we have to take care of that because our fast bowlers are more familiar with the old ball as it reverse swings - they are not too experienced when it comes to the new ball. We also discussed about the types of balls used - the Kookaburra is used in One Day Internationals and Test matches but we use a local ball in domestic cricket, so players do not have any idea about it. So this is the kind of things we discussed - also I suggested that someone from PCB should travel ahead of the chairman to any foreign country so that the modalities and issues are discussed before he arrives. This is what the previous chairman didn’t do - he wanted to do everything himself.

PakPassion.net: Lets talk a bit about the current affairs of the team. In terms of fast-bowling, what do you think is the future for Pakistan?


Sarfraz Nawaz:
The future for fast bowling, in my view, is good, but the players need to improve their physical fitness - fact is that Pakistani bowlers lack stamina and physical fitness, but they do have determination. Their cricket will improve when the physical condition of these fast bowlers improves - usually by bowling 10-15 overs as that makes them stronger.

Look, right now there is Mohammad Talha and he is an up-and-coming bowler who is fastest in Pakistan - I have coached him as well. There is also the allrounder Hammad Azam and he is also good. Apart from them, there is Junaid Khan but he tends to become unfit. So, people need to think a little bit about his fitness because he really is a good bowler.

Then, there is also Gul as well as Sohail Tanvir who needs to improve his physical condition and Cheema is also there but he is ageing. So there are guys and I don’t think there is a need to worry too much. Wahab Riaz is also there but because of various suspicions, he has not been selected. More bowlers will come forward in the future.

PakPassion.net: Compared to the old days, do you think that players of today are being over-coached?

Sarfraz Nawaz: No, you see in those times, there was determination and not a lot of coaching would happen because there were no facilities. However, the players did have a keenness for cricket. Look, in my time, the players would wake up in the morning and do a bit of running, some sprinting, exercise, and then later in the afternoon, they would bowl in the nets and on the day of a match, they would show up and play in the match.

And you see, in those days, there was no concept of 10 overs for bowlers. I remember that we had 45 over matches and in some matches I would bowl 22 overs at a stretch! Nowadays players don’t have stamina - they can’t even bowl 5 overs properly. So you see it’s about these things. When you develop stamina, then your bowling [front] foot will not shake - your foot will stay in place where it’s landed and your finish will be good. If you have strength in your legs then the back will not be strained. That’s where they lag [in fitness] and that is why the bowling does not have the finesse that it should have.

PakPassion.net: Twenty20 cricket seems to be gaining a lot of following nowadays. Is that good or bad for cricket?

Sarfraz Nawaz: Look, in my opinion, the future is in Twenty20 cricket because people go to these matches with their family for a short period. In 3 or 4 hours, people also end up having an outing, have a chat with friends, afternoon/evening you get to go out with their kids. So, I think this format will flourish in the future.

PakPassion.net:You went to England where you were present at the spot-fixing trial. In the media, you also said that you were suspicious about these things. Did you ever present any concrete evidence to the ICC or PCB?

Sarfraz Nawaz: See, I have been saying for the last 20-25 years and given written proof but they were too scared. The Pakistani government and PCB would get worried with what I had to say because they believed if we take action, Pakistan will get a bad name. They made that into an issue of lack of evidence! Then there was the disclosure from NOTW newspaper. If they [NOTW] and Metropolitan police hadn’t taken the initiative, these players would have continued doing what they were doing. Gambling still goes on, but the ICC does not do anything. I told them in 2001, with evidence, that Pakistan versus England match is fixed – the one that starts in 3 or 4 days. The match will start, and Pakistan is going to lose in 3 days. I told Paul Condon about four days before the match started but they didn’t do anything. What better proof do you need? What I said ended up happening! After this, they never asked me to come or said to me, ‘What should we do now or how should we catch them?’ Nothing happened.

PakPassion.net: In your opinion, what should the ICC do now? What is your suggestion? If you were the Head of ICC, then what would you have done?

Sarfraz Nawaz:
I would have dismissed the ICC anti-corruption unit. Also, I would have told all Cricket Boards to implement their own anti-corruption organizations and to monitor them, hire one or two people to monitor corruption. Then each board should ask for a quarterly report to see the outcome of their work. These anti-corruption units, they would be made according to the laws of their own countries. There are countries that allow gambling but don’t allow fixing. You have Pakistan and Bangladesh which are Muslim countries where betting is not allowed - they do not have betting shops or any such thing. So, every country has handle this based upon the laws of their lands. These anti-corruption units - all the Boards should make their own.

As a matter of fact, Australia has already done this, haven’t they? Australia has its own anti-corruption unit already, and their Sports Minister has also announced that if someone is involved in this they will get 10 years imprisonment!

PakPassion.net: Thank you for your time

Sarfraz Nawaz: Thank you.

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Last edited by a moderator:
Many thanks to VM and PCF for their work with transcription.
 
Good interview, he is right too about the stamina and fitness. You can see it on the field and in the running between the wickets.
 
a very honest and frank interview, wow!

I told them in 2001, with evidence, that Pakistan versus England match is fixed – the one that starts in 3 or 4 days. The match will start, and Pakistan is going to lose in 3 days. I told Paul Condon about four days before the match started but they didn’t do anything. What better proof do you need? What I said ended up happening! After this, they never asked me to come or said to me, ‘What should we do now or how should we catch them?’ Nothing happened.

which Test match would this be?
 
Good interview, thank you VM and PCF for your work with transcription.........

I hope Muhammed Talha is given the chance to play in the tests v Bangladesh.....
 
Lets see if we see some improvement on the stamina front in the UAE
 
Can you blame them? These young kids dont have the means to train professionally, go on a professional diet, get proper nutritionists, dieticians, trainers. Heck how of them have access to proper gyms? No i am not talking about Desi gyms but gyms with international level facilities for eg Gold Gym?
 
Knowledgeable loose cannon. Interesting to listen to and always speaks his mind but also talks alot of rubbish.
 
Savak, why don't the young players join County cricket? The coaching and facilities are more than enough to provide them with a solid base.
 
Savak, why don't the young players join County cricket? The coaching and facilities are more than enough to provide them with a solid base.

To join County Cricket you need to either have someone vouching for you at these clubs or some solid international match winning performances under your belt.

Our Domestic pacers dont get a chance to play for the national team, they cant be expected to join county teams before that.
 
Third option would be to move to England and go on one of the counties open day trials?
...and then the ECB would label them true Englishmen, a-la Trott & Co, and take their pick of some of the best young Pakistani-born bowling talent. No thanks.
 
Savak, as I have always said 'Running and not gym work is what makes and breaks a fast bowler'...Sarfraz just said the same here.

And even if there are no gyms for our young ones, finding a place to jog/sprint/stretch etc. is always available around most neighborhoods but modern day fast bowlers like Shoaib and Co. have messed the minds of the younger generation in to believing that going to a gym almost everyday is a must
 
...and then the ECB would label them true Englishmen, a-la Trott & Co, and take their pick of some of the best young Pakistani-born bowling talent. No thanks.

Err, its usually the players choice whether to take English nationality or to respresnt England. THe ECB doesn't exactly put a gun next to the players head in order to force them to play for them.
 
Err, its usually the players choice whether to take English nationality or to respresnt England. THe ECB doesn't exactly put a gun next to the players head in order to force them to play for them.
What you have written is true, but doesn't really address the point I made.
 
Savak, as I have always said 'Running and not gym work is what makes and breaks a fast bowler'...Sarfraz just said the same here.

And even if there are no gyms for our young ones, finding a place to jog/sprint/stretch etc. is always available around most neighborhoods but modern day fast bowlers like Shoaib and Co. have messed the minds of the younger generation in to believing that going to a gym almost everyday is a must

You speak as if our young fast bowlers have been going to the gym and that they have become messed up as a result. They would achieve great strides by going to the gym as a start. They dont even do that as a start.
 
You speak as if our young fast bowlers have been going to the gym and that they have become messed up as a result. They would achieve great strides by going to the gym as a start. They dont even do that as a start.




And how do know they have not been going to the gym regularly?

If they were running/sprinting/stretching a lot, you would NOT be hearing Sarfraz commenting about their lack of stamina/endurance etc.
 
30 years old struggling bigtime with fitness.

Huffing and Puffing.

:-(


Clear double missed.
 
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