Waqar Younis and Ejaz Ahmed should be given at least a year to prove their worth. Hire-and-fire policy will not work, says Wasim Akram. Now that the dice has been casted and the skipper and squad for the ICC T20 World Cup in the West Indies have been decided, Pakistan must now look forward to the championship with a positive frame of mind. I am not surprised Shahid Afridi has been named the captain. I mentioned this in my previous column when the IPL started. In Pakistan cricket, there is a value for nuisance! Afridi may have earned Pakistan some bad name by the chewing-the-ball incident in Perth in January-end, but all that is forgotten now.
Afridi has been captaining Pakistan cricket in T20 internationals and under the circumstances, he is the best man to lead in the Caribbean. He has a lot of energy and this format of the game, needs his aggressive approach. Surely, he will now be thinking about the World Cup because the nation's prestige will be in his hands. He just has to control his wildfire emotions. Afridi has a few advantages. In coaches Waqar Younis and Ejaz Ahmed, he will have two men who understand the game and the body language of the players. I think this is the best team management Pakistan can ask for.
I am happy for Waqar. He always wanted to be the coach of Pakistan. And why not? Waqar has played the game at the highest level, he knows the modern methods and can be a hard task master. Ejaz has been one of Pakistan's brilliant all-rounders and a good motivator. This combination should work well. Waqar knows what it is to be in the Pakistan team. Discipline has always been an issue with the national side and I think Waqar, with his persona and work ethics, can wield the danda (stick) to erring players, if required. He must be given a year to prove himself.
People have been asking me why haven't I associated myself with the national side? Well, I am always available for the Pakistan team. If Waqar calls me for the camps, I will be happy to go and share a few thoughts with the bowlers. Unlike many of our senior cricketers, I am not hankering for money from the PCB. I am available for free as long as my professional commitments are not compromised.
It is high time to put some code of conduct in place. With immediate effect, national players must not talk freely to the media. All contracted players must follow the ethics and defaulters must be sacked at once. Bans and fines don't work Communication with the media is a must for the game to move on, but it should not boil down to public mud-slinging. Senior boys like Shoaib Malik,Younis Khan and Mohammed Yousuf have in recent times used the media platform to vent their ire against each other or the establishment. It has been disgraceful to say the least. Media communication has to be in a controlled manner and the PCB must ensure this.
Unfortunately, a lot of negative energy flows through Pakistan cricket. I think the biggest enemies of Pakistan cricket have been our ex-players. The biggest paradox in this respect is Javed Miandad. He has been the single biggest critic of the PCB and the interesting thing is, Javedbhai is one of the highest paid employees of the Board! I have all my regards for Javedbhai. But then when I see him ridiculing the PCB after taking a salary every month, I wonder if he has any loyalty left in him? But then Miandad is not the only person who talks ill about Pakistan cricket. There are quite a few former captains who are doing this using the many media channels. My understanding is that they are all gunning for paid positions in the PCB. Give them a job and they will be quiet!
Not much time is left for the World Cup. Mental conditioning, regimented training and discipline will be factors to succeed. T20 is not an easy game. Sshorter the version, less is the margin for error. But Pakistan have the ingredients to explode on the world scene once again. Go for it, boys!
(Wasim Akram is Pakistan's former Test captain. He is one of ESPN-STAR Sports' cricket experts)