To understand why Zaheer Abbas is struggling on the Australian tour. Zaheer’s problems in Australia are not merely the four Australian fast bowlers. The Pakistan Cricket Board has aggravated the whole situation, says Asif Iqbal… Intikhab Alam and Zaheer Abbas.. their plate is full.
The problems the Pakistan cricket team is facing in Australia are acute. It is just not possible for a team to play under two captains at the same time. The plight of the acting tour captain can well be imagined. Within the duration of two Tests, there have been four different statements regarding his status. For an outsider, the intrigues of Pakistan cricket can be incomprehensible. We have been in troubled waters before regarding tour captaincy, Kerry Packer cricket, etc.
But this time the establishment has outdone itself in putting the cricketers on the field under tremendous pressure. Not wishing to go into the intricacies of the Board’s stand on the tour captain, all I can say is it is indeed a strange situation to have one captain on the field and one leading from the boundary line. One can only sympathize with Zaheer Abbas. Placed as he is, he doesn’t know whether he is coming or going.
The Imran question: When lmran Khan was originally nominated we sincerely believed if he was fit to bat or bowl he would still be the best choice for the job. The position has changed drastically since then. I suppose even if Imran were fit to take the field as a batsman he would have done so quite early, taking into account the troubles the Pakistan batting lineup has been having against the Australian pace bowlers.
If thus far Imran has been unable to play as a batsman, his position in the team is redundant. Many other problems are directly linked to this. Despite the delicate position he is in, Zaheer Abbas has been striving to deal with the tour with equanimity but I am sure, even at long range, it is easy to see why Zaheer Abbas is struggling.
The arrival of Sarfraz Nawaz should be of some consolation to the touring team. I have always maintained that Sarfraz Nawaz is the best bowler Pakistan has ever had. He was the first to practice seriously the art of swing and seam bowling in our country.
I have no hesitation in declaring again that Sarfraz Nawaz is the greatest of Pakistan bowlers. It is for reasons other than cricket that Sarfraz Nawazhas had such an inconsistent career. I must recall that Sarfraz Nawaz once walked out on the Pakistan team in the course of a home series against England and later returned from London to continue to play in the same series.
He has done various other things that the Board could not swallow and the endless drama has been taking various interesting twists and turns over the years.
Putting the record straight:
I have been accused in the past of keeping Sarfraz Nawaz out of the tour of India in 1979-80. I would like to clarify the position although I believe there is no need to expand on an old controversy. However, if my statement clears the deck I will be happy. Before the tour of India all of us received letters that we would be re- squired to play in the domestic series in order to qualify for selection.
Since the gap between the County season and the home season in Pakistan was very short, I wrote to the Board requesting them whether I could report later since I did not have enough time to spend with my family.
The BCCP replied that everyone would have to report on time and so we packed our bags and rushed to Pakistan. Sarfraz Nawaz did not report in time and when the team was picked from a prospective list his name was not on it.
In fact, the .team was selected before the captain was announced and I came to know Sarfraz was not in the team only after. I learned I had been named captain. Now you can judge for yourself who was right and whether I was responsible for keeping Sarfraz out. In any case, I am glad Sarfraz has sorted out his current problems with the
Board and I pray that he helps Pakistan’s cause in the remaining Tests in Australia. I am certain Zaheer Abbas will welcome the addition of a senior bowler, for the basic trouble Pakistan faces is the lack of a penetrative attack.
Abdul Qadir issue: A bowler like Abdul Qadir relates better to a captain like Imran Khan. Though I concede any senior Test player should be mature enough to perform at his best for any captain, in any conditions, there are sensitive cricketers like Qadir who must be handled right if one is to extract the best from them.
A categorical statement by the Board regarding the actual status of the two cricketers concerned, Zaheer and Imran, would help clear the air and the misunderstanding and lead to greater cohesion in the team. There is much scope for improvement in Pakistan’s performance in Australia. And Abdul Qadir is bowled by Rackemann in the Brisbane Test Qadir bowled 32 overs and had only a wicket to show giving away 100-plus runs.