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ODI Debutant
Feb 19, 2005
For how long have you been following cricket? How did you get interested in this sport?
Cricket was “in the blood” as they say, as my father was a very keen and competitive cricketer himself and encouraged my brother and I to get involved in the game. My first memories of cricket were around the age of 5 being taken to watch my dad’s team. I became team scorer at a very young age and have never looked back. It’s a fantastic game and my passion for the game has not diminished even though these days my cricket is “garden cricket” with my 2 daughters.

After reading one of your previous posts it seemed that 20/20 had won you over. Do you also support other changes that are going to occur in cricket like substitutes and increase in field restrictions?

I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty/20 match between Lancs and Yorkshire. I enjoyed the pace of the game, the fact that it was so fast moving, excitement and all action. Whilst technique wasn’t a key element, good players will always show their class in any version of the game. Call me old fashioned but I’m not a big fan of the substitution implementation by the ICC. I’d much rather they got the basics right like using technology to improve umpiring decisions in the game. There is nothing more frustrating for a fan than to see one of your players being given out when he clearly wasn’t, or a decision going against your teams bowlers when it was clearly out – yet the third umpire and referee watch it on the tv replay and know that a wrong decision has been made but cant do anything about it. Like most things in my life I only believe in change for the better and some of the changes that the ICC are looking to make do not necessarily improve the game in my opinion.

Is Pakistan cricket team better with shoaib or without?
Well in my opinion a mentally and physically fit Shoaib Akhtar is an asset to the Pakistan team. He is one of only a few match winners in international cricket who can turn a game in the space of one over. Off the top of my head I can only think of around 3 or 4 bowlers currently playing the game one could say that about. However Shoaib is no good to the Pakistan team having bowled 10 overs flat out and then sat in the dressing room watching the rest of the game on tv. Personally I have strong views on Shoaib, I think in future he should only play test cricket if we want to get the best out of him and prolong his career. He should forget the one day version of the game and try to quit smoking too.

How did you land yourself with the task of moderating/managing PakPassion?
Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time J The story goes like this. PakPassion was originally one of the Rivals sites when I joined in 2001 I think. It was run by 2 guys by the name of Faraz and Ali and I must admit it wasn’t run that well. The moderation was virtually non existent and it was basically anything goes in there. When I joined I got quite a lot of stick from the US Pakistanis, who seemed to “have it in” for the UK Pakistanis. I had just recently purchased a pc and merely wanted a forum to discuss cricket upon. Anyway, Ali disappeared and Faraz would appear once in a while on the site. Eventually after a few months of me joining, Rivals told Faraz that they were no longer continuing with any of the cricket sites. Faraz after hearing this told me he was going to move the site to Sportnetwork, but mentioned that he could no longer run the site due to work commitments. He’d asked a few other guys if they wanted to take over, but didn’t get a positive response from any of them. He then wondered if I wanted to take over. I didn’t really want to take over as I was very busy with family and work commitments myself, but it saddened me that the site which was raw but had potential would be finished if nobody took over the reigns. I said I’d take over for a few months and take it from there before handing it somebody else – more than 4 years later and I’m still here.

Has the Pakistan cricket establishment led Pakistan cricket to a downward spiral or do you feel that we have reached rock bottom and are now slowly climbing back?

Pakistan have a lot of hard work to do to challenge teams like Australia. A compulsive diet of one day cricket with the odd test match has done no favours to the players or the techniques of our younger players. 2 match and the odd 3 match test series are a joke. Pakistan are a major attraction wherever they play and the PCB should look to be playing 3, 4 and 5 match test series against the other top countries.
The bottom line is that Pakistan have not played enough test cricket and the players techniques have paid the price. Also, its ok setting up academies all over the country but the youngsters at these academies need to have the basics instilled into them. Coaching has to be spot on as habits picked up in the teens are very difficult to eradicate late in careers. I’m not sure if the PCB is doing enough to promote coaching qualifications and coaching techniques amongst ex players – and also I don’t the PCB are utilising very well the skills of ex players in helping the current players.
One other aspect of the Pakistani cricket setup is one that I have harped on about for a while, is changing the 3 day domestic matches to 4 days – it would improve the quality of the matches and make players much better prepared for test cricket. We are climbing back as one of the top teams in one day cricket and I do honestly think that we will be a force in WC2007, but as far as test cricket is concerned, the quality of our team really does need to improve in terms of mental approach, application and fitness levels.

What would you see as a sign that we are getting back to our winning ways ( apart from victory alone )
The benchmark is Australia and how your team compete against them home and away. Sri Lanka, Pak, India, England, NZ and SA will continue to beat each other and the number 2 spot will keep on changing hands over the years. However the way to measure just how much progress has been made by Woolmer and co. is Pakistans performance next time they play the Aussies home and away in test series. In one day cricket as I wrote before, we are capable of beating Australia no doubt about it, but test cricket is a different matter. It will be intriguing and I sincerely hope that Woolmer is in charge for the Aussie series’ both in Pakistan and down under.

Looking ahead , say 10 years, do you see Pak as the top cricket team in the world or will we always be hovering about in the Number 2-4 positions ?

The heart says yes, but the mind says no. We don’t seem to be producing those world class players any more. The worrying aspect for me is that ex players, current players and the media in Pakistan all have their favourite players, but not too many of these names mentioned seem to have the faith of the current skipper and coach. In 10 years time, the true value of the academies will have been gauged and a true indication will be just how many of the team in 2015 have come through the academies and are genuine world class players. Again I will mention our domestic cricket and compare it with the Aussie setup. We have age 40 plus players occupying places in domestic teams and the intensity and standard is not the highest, yet the Australian setup is ultra competitive with the majority of State teams good enough to play at international level. There is a total lack of interest in domestic cricket and this also needs to be addressed by the PCB. These are the sort of things the PCB need to look at to ensure that we are ready for the challenge in 2015. I think the strength of a team can be gauged by looking at “bench strength” and our current bench strength in test cricket is nothing much to write home about.

What is the role of a coach in your view and what is it that you don’t like about BW ?
At senior level the coach cannot be expected to perform miracles. Most fans though think that international coaches are miracle workers and can turn an average player into a world beater. In my opinion a lot depends on the player himself and its extremely frustrating for fans and coaches alike when some players keep making the same mistakes again and again. You can give the worst team in the world the best coach and it will make very little difference. Woolmers job in my opinion is to fine tune and work on the weaknesses of certain players. He can work on fitness issues, the technical aspects of the game, provide advice and guidance but the bottom line is he can’t go out there and bat for the players. Once they are out in the middle, it is up to them to deliver the goods. I like Bob Woolmer and do honestly believe that he is taking the team forward. However I look at the likes of Sami and Yasir as 2 examples of players who have basically not improved at all under Woolmer’s guidance. No ball problems, run up issues, delivery stride issues, ball not coming out of the hand correctly, not knowing where the off stump is, playing shots on the walk – these are things that the players themselves need to look at and work hard upon. As I say it’s a partnership between the player and the coach, with the player himself having to accept the majority of the blame. Overall though I think Woolmer has improved the one day setup, but our test record speaks for itself. 6/10 for Bob from me.

If you could swap your life with that of a well known cricketer - who would that be and why ?
Ooof tough question. Well not that I am discontent with my life, but how about Imran Khan. Highly respected cricketer, someone whom young cricketers will always turn to for advice, has a presence about him and is patriotic with it.

Why have Pakistan had problems at the top since the departure of one of ur faves Saeed Anwar and how should they solve them? A camp for openers with Anwar as coach?
I think we were spoilt. Aamir Sohail was a very underrated cricketer and Saeed Anwar was just absolutely awesome, together they were an excellent combination. I feel that we have experimented too much and chopped and changed the openers too frequently. Imran Nazir, Wasti, Muhammed Wasim, Salim Elahi, Imran Farhat, Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed, Shahid Afridi – the list is just endless and almost embarrassing. Its almost as though a couple of failures and you are out, then we go back to another tried and tested failure – its like a merry go round. A camp, no I don’t think that is the solution. I think the solution is some continuity. I’d like to see Salman Butt and Taufeeq Umar being given a good run of 10 tests as openers and then see if they are good enough.

Which current young player in the Pak team will go on and make a big name for him self ?
Salman Butt. The guy is a very confident young man who oozes class. Providing he keeps his feet on the ground, stays level headed and keeps on working hard he could become a superb opener for Pakistan and one of the worlds best. The way he was hitting the likes of McGrath, Gillespie and co to the boundary in Australia was a sight to behold. He has a lot of work to do on technique, fitness, fielding and running between the wickets, but the foundations are there.

Did you ever, because of any reason whatsoever, thought of quitting this site, pack up everything and forget? If yes then what made you change your mind, and what keeps you motivated towards continuing with this site?
Yes there was one occasion when I nearly packed the site up. It was one week after we had moved from Sportnetwork and things were not going too well. There were quite a few problems behind the scenes, it was affecting my private life and things at home. I was forced to take time off work to sort some things out on the site – things were looking bleak and frankly I didn’t need it at that time. But with Allah as one door closes, HE opens another. The motivation is every compliment we get about the site on the Board and also by e-mail, the other motivation is to provide cricket fans with a great site and forums and finally the biggest motivation is the brilliant posters we have on the site and the great set of guys who I have worked with and currently work alongside me on the PP team. The PP team do not get a penny for their services and it is all voluntary work, yet they are all so committed.

Long Distance call from Wales...
What do you have against Liverpool Footbal Club (now evading this one!!!)
Growing up and from the age of about 5 or 6 I was always a Liverpool and Darlington fan. Dalglish, Rush, Craig Johnston, Ronnie Whelan, Lawrenson, Hansen etc etc – some of my all time favourite players. But since moving there I haven’t been impressed with the arrogance of many Liverpool fans. I find that a lot of them are very bitter towards Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd, almost as though they are jealous of them, instead of accepting that they are currently better than Liverpool. In this city I think Everton fans are more realistic, honest and down to earth (sorry Oxy and Hitman).

It was your desire that the new look did not replicate the older version hosted on Sportsnetwork. Would you say we have succeeded in this respect?
The look and feel of the site is totally different and I think much more modern, better on the eye and user friendly – credit initially to Waheed, Umar and of course now Ron, Nauman and Entra for all the progress that has been made. The best thing about it is, its OUR site, we do what we want with it, how we want to do it and when we want to do it. We are not controlled by “Big Brother” looking down upon us and watching our every move. We were the number one site with the highest number of hits each month on Sportnetwork, yet they had the cheek to switch our site off together with ICF whenever they felt like it. Also one of the major improvements is the fact that no longer do we have loads of threads there just to wind our next door neighbours at ICF up. We’ve moved on from that and our posters have moved on from that which is heartening to see.

Is the Sajid we see on PP like the Sajid your family and friends know?
On PP I think I come across as a serious, rather boring, cricket fan who has no sense of humour, but the fact is, I take my sport very seriously. I’ll have the occasional laugh on PP but prefer to get stuck into the technical threads and player discussions etc. I can tell you that the real Saj is a fun loving, cheeky, mischievous guy, who enjoys a good laugh – so nothing like the Saj on PP. I’ve met Kashif, Hitman and Merc and who knows one day may catch up with plenty more PPers at some of next years Pakistan matches.

If you could change one thing in this world what would it be?
Poverty. Nobody in 2005 should be dying due to poverty when so many others are wasting money on non essentials. There will always be a rich and poor nation divide, but the civilised world and the leaders of some of these poor countries should hang their heads in shame at the number of children dying because of poverty in the third world.

If U were Bob Woolmer, will you put up with Shoaib's antic/personality etc...especially after trying everything you could in your personal capacity?
Well I’m not one for this special treatment business. All the players are adults and none of them deserve any preferential treatment. I don’t agree with the way the whole Akhtar/Inzi/Woolmer “disagreements” have been publicised and leaked to the press and all 3 of them are to blame for that. The lack of communication between the 3 of them is ridiculous. A series of meetings should have been held between them to address all of their concerns, instead it was left to simmer and a mountain was made out of a molehill. If Shoaib wasn’t going to be selected for the Caribbean tour then he should have been told the reasons clearly, instead of various articles from Woolmer and Inzi appearing in the press. Also Shoaib should realise that its cricket that gave him fame and fortune and he has been treated very well by the game in the past – he needs to buck up his ideas and start creating the right cricket related headlines.

Why do you think most of Shoaib fans are 16 years old or below...on this site? Should we even listen to them at all?
Well I prefer to listen to everyone irrespective of their age. I have 2 young daughters and some of the things they come out with is fascinating and extremely interesting, so I don’t discriminate according to age on PP. Shoaib is probably the second most talked about Pak cricketer of the current crop, after Shahid Afridi. I think even after Shoaib retires he will still remain a much discussed cricketer.

What is your vision of this message board being in the future ?
I’m not one for making big predictions and boasts as too often they come back to haunt you. All I would like to say in response to this question is that the PakPassion team continue to work hard to make PakPassion an enjoyable experience. We have worked hard to make the site what it is today and we will continue to do our utmost to maintain the site and improve it. At the end of the day PakPassion relies upon the quality of its posters and we are extremely lucky that we have a number of top quality posters.

Well the mods and admins
What do you REALLY think of Mig Saab ?

MIG has a special talent that not too many people have, but we would all like to have. He has the ability to talk to people of different backgrounds, ages and personalities on their level and gets along with one and all on PP. He hasn’t got a bad word to say about anybody. A top bloke who is absolutely brilliant for advice on any topic. Would really like to meet up with him one day in the future.

If you were the manager of Pakistan Cricketing Team what would you do and how would you handle the primadonnas like Sohaib or rest of flamboyant players ?
I am a firm believer in professionalism and discipline. If a professional sportsman cannot follow rules and guidance off the field, then how can we expect them to do the business on the field.
Player power has always been a problem with Pakistani cricket, but these days its not as common as it was in the past. I guess it all depends on the characters of the men at the helm of Pakistani cricket and the players themselves. My policy on this is clear – Woolmer and co should operate an open door policy where players can talk in an open and honest manner, knowing that even if they speak out of turn then this will not be held against them. However the players themselves have a duty to behave as professional sportsmen on and off the field, and if the authorities start showing leniency to one player, then the others will undoubtedly “try their luck”. We will never be the most disciplined unit playing international cricket but without improved discipline, we will never reach the dizzy heights and the 92 World Cup success is testimony of this.

Which PP do you enjoy reading and who would you like to strangle ?

There are too many good posters on the site to mention by name. As I wrote earlier in this essay, it’s the quality of the posters that make PakPassion what it is. We have an excellent balance of guys who are good with statistical analysis, others who are experts on up and coming players, others who are superb with the technical aspects of the game and others who are top drawer with information about retired players. All these are key ingredients in why the forums are so popular.

What do you think of the Pakistani youth these days and your approach to handling the young punks ?
I don’t want to sound like a spoilsport or a typical “old timer”, but my generation was brought up to respect our elders. These days the vast majority of our youths male and female have not an iota of respect for peers, elders or folk younger than them. I really do fear for our youth in the UK. My approach to handling the “young punks” – well my approach would be to give them a “clip round the ear”, but I’d probably get into trouble with the authorities for doing that. So instead my approach is to ignore them.

Whos your favourite cricketer, past and present?
Past – Wasim Akram. First time I saw him when he was touring Australia and shattering stumps down there, I nearly fell off the sofa. Whenever I watched Wasim play and I was lucky enough to watch him many times for Lancashire, Pakistan and in benefit matches, he was just superb viewing. An entertainer, a magician with the ball and with so much variety. The man could make the ball talk – round the wicket, over the wicket, outswing, inswing, bouncers, slower balls, reverse swing, seam – he had the lot. I also enjoyed the way he captained the team, he was always positive and looked to attack. His batting was explosive and you knew what to expect. Perhaps his batting let him down during his career, but he worked so hard on his bowling that his batting was never going to reach the dizzy heights.

Present – Inzamam ul Haq (the batsmen not the skipper). A man who scores runs when the team needs them, scores big, can handle any sort of bowling, his batting has not been affected by the pressure of captaincy and has been the mainstay of the Pakistani batting line up despite having a number of “weaker” players around him.

What makes a successful marriage?

Trust and communication. You’ve got to be able to trust each other 100% and talk openly about anything and everything. PakPassion marriage counselling service is my next big venture, so watch this space J

What or who was the inspiration behind creating Pakpassion?
Well I don’t want to take the credit for something I did not start. Faraz and Ali deserve that credit. They started PakPassion and I merely continued their work at the Sportnetwork site for a couple of years. At Sportnetwork initially I did everything myself but then Umar and Farhad worked very hard on the moderation side with me and they deserve thanks and credit for that. Waheed deserves a special mention here because he was the one who gave me the idea to move away from Sportnetwork and he did a tremendous amount of work in setting up the new site at
Merc, MIG, Oxy, Feather and Entra joined the team, each with their own roles and strengths, as I realised we needed more staff on the new site. Also Ron did some amazing things with the site and he too deserves great credit for helping us at a very tricky and crucial time for PakPassion. Then the latest member of the PakPassion team joined us – Nauman. He has done a tremendous amount of work on the new site and continues to do a fantastic and very important job.

What makes Pakpassion better than other Pakistani cricket forum website?
I think the moderators and admins work extremely hard on the site, they take their roles seriously and always give 100% effort. We are honest in our approach, there is no hidden agenda and we listen to what people have to say about the site. We don’t make false promises or try to make things up or to mislead PakPassion members. I think other sites have tried to copy our methods and exclusives and their dishonesty has been exposed. I would not dream of trying to make up a story or an exclusive and mislead our members. If we didn’t take it seriously the site would become a free for all and a joke. We want to continually take the site forward and improve it, not justsit contently with what we already have.
Also as mentioned earlier we are lucky to have an amazing array of posters on PakPassion and the best thing is the quality is still shining through with some excellent newcomers adding talent to the site.

Who’s the heir to the throne as King of Pakpassion?

I’m not a king and there is no throne, so how can there be an heir J Seriously though I just see myself as a poster on PP who enjoys the site discussion just like other members.

Did poeple take the mick out of you when East is East came out? (cos of the kid SAJ who gets circumcised)
The day I saw the film I burned my parka coat. I’ve got the film on DVD and love watching it just for Om Puri’s acting in it which is hilarious.

Your views on London securing the Olympics 2012. Like me, do you think its a ploy to get the Bengalis of the East End to vote Labour?
I’m not really that bothered. Couldn’t have cared less if it went to Paris, Madrid or wherever else. However I wouldn’t mind going to watch some of the athletics or the hockey in and around London.

How passionately do you follow Darlo FC? What do you have to say to those that refuse to support their local football team because it happens to be a small club like Cardiff City or Exeter etc.
The first Darlington game I attended was at their old ground at Feethams when I was about 8 years old. I fell in love with the club and have supported them ever since through thick and thin. I think too many fans especially younger ones take the easy option and support big clubs, rather than supporting their local club.
These days I can only attend a few Darlington matches a season mainly those ones where they are playing opposition away somewhere in the North West or those home matches when I am visiting my parents.
I have a dream to win the lottery and become Chairman of the club J

Your a family man. How do you justify your affair with 'Pakpassion' to your wife?
I’ve lost count the number of times she has said the words “Saj if you had to choose between PP and me, I know you’d choose PP”. She knows I love Pak cricket and she knows that I enjoy working on PP and she’s very understanding. However those of you not married, take note, the occasional bribe of clothes, flowers, ear rings, perfume etc. works well, especially if I have been on the internet for a long time.

What fascinates you about Pakistan cricket team?
They are an absorbing, intriguing and above all unpredictable bunch of sportsmen. They can make you smile one minute, make you cry the next, make you jump for joy the next and make you want to tear your hair out the next minute.
I am patriotic and prefer to support them through thick and thin, never resort to calling them names and vilifying them in public. If they deserve praise I will shower them with it, but if they deserve criticism then I’m quite prepared to give them plenty of that too. However I think my criticism would always be constructive and not based upon the players I like and those I dislike and therefore biased.

Which ex-PPer do you miss now on PP, and wish he were to be posting?
I think after a few years on PP you realise that sometimes posters depart the scene due to family commitments, work commitments etc. PP is very addictive and can take up a lot of your time, that’s why its quite normal to see posters “go missing” for a while and then come back again.
I have a very difficult role on PP and one thing I have realised is that its impossible to please everybody. Whilst I do my best and can honestly say that every decision I have made has been without bias and in the best interests of PP, there will always be occasions when some folk are not happy with my handling of certain matters. The bottom line is that at any given time, there is nearly always someone who is not happy about something – goes with the territory I guess.
At the moment FairPlay is naraaz with me and whilst I have tried to explain things to him, he is still upset. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask him to start posting on PP again. Also Nadeem, we don’t see you posting on PP much these days – I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts, so get typing J
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Old interview.I don't think now T20 is getting well over [MENTION=9]Saj[/MENTION]
Where is the pakpasison marriage counselling service? I think i am in need :))

Very good interview Saj :)

Who is the person conducting the interview? I though it was the role of a moderator.
Where is the pakpasison marriage counselling service? I think i am in need :))

Very good interview Saj :)

Who is the person conducting the interview? I though it was the role of a moderator.

yes indeed it was

who are you marrying by the way :21:
I would realy want to appreciat the moderators and Especialy [MENTION=9]Saj[/MENTION] Bhai who has given us this beauti.
So now I got to know about PakPassion origins! Ha ha... Good interview though! Good times! Past times mostly gives us a nostalgic feeling!
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