February 15, 2014

DUBAI – Legendary former pace bowler Wasim Akram has branded the award of a two-month contract to Moin Khan as new head coach of Pakistan “a joke”. Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chief operating officer Subhan Ahmad told reporters on Friday that Khan would coach the team for this month’s Asia Cup and next month’s World Twenty20 — both to be held in Bangladesh.

Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, Akram, who was a member of the four-member committee that selected Khan following Dav Whatmore’s decision to step down last month, said: “I have been hearing that they are offering a two-month contract for Moin Khan and that is very upsetting. When you can offer two-year contracts for foreign coaches, offering your own coach a contract of just two months is not good.

Which coach can make a difference in two months? I feel it is a wrong thinking by the board.” He added: “They (the PCB) have come up with the argument that they don’t have cricket for five months but in those five months, Moin can actually channelise his players. He can go to different cities and see first-class matches. Offering a two-month contract is a joke.”

When asked about the India-Pakistan Under-19 World Cup match on Saturday, Akram said: “It will be a massive game. An India Pakistan match — wherever, whenever and whichever level it is played — it will always be exciting. Be it Under-19, Under-17, Under-23 or even the main team. Inam-ul-Haq, who is (former Pakistan captain) Inzamam-ul-Haq’s nephew, is very talented. Vijay Zol, the Indian skipper, is talented and has been getting a lot of runs. As a commentator, this is my third Under-19 World Cup and I have enjoyed this a lot more because I can talk about these youngsters in the next two years.”

Akram feels junior cricket in Pakistan is in the doldrums, however. “Having no international matches in Pakistan has affected junior cricket, but thankfully we have now got a chairman (Najam Sethi) who can actually plan for the next two years. If you look at any country, be it India, South Africa or Australia, they concentrate a lot on Under-19 cricket and also focus a lot on A-team tours.

Pakistan hardly concentrates on that and that is where the trouble lies. The talent is very much there. I have been travelling throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan and you can see cricket being played day in and day out everywhere but we need to channel that talent.”

Of the Under-19 World Cup, which started on Friday, Akram said: “This is one of the best tournaments of the ICC. We have seen Virat Kohli four years ago, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Clarke, and the great Brian Lara; all these players played (in the) Under-19 World Cup and went on to become great players. This is the best nursery for junior cricket and I feel the ICC has done a great job to make sure that this tournament is held on a regular basis. This tournament helps players to know the pressures and the impact of television coverage and will help them to go on to become top players.”

Akram also wants the event to be held in countries where cricket is growing in popularity. “This World Cup should be held in smaller, second-tier countries then there will be lot more interest and people will come and watch. I was in Townsville last year when Australia staged the Under-19 World Cup and we had a large turnout for the matches. That adds extra pressure on players and, if you perform under those pressures, you can go on to play for your own country on a regular basis.”

Courtesy: THE NATION

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