Pakistan must focus on developing cricket talent: Ian Pont

Published April 26, 2016
“I stated before that he has a better technical action than Wasim Akram, but that’s not to say he will be a better bowler,” says Pont about Amir. — AP
“I stated before that he has a better technical action than Wasim Akram, but that’s not to say he will be a better bowler,” says Pont about Amir. — AP

If there was ever a poll on what the most overused word in Pakistan was, talent would undoubtedly come up trumps. Hands down.

The word has been used excessively in the country's cricketing circles and many former players seem to have taken the liberty of considering it a uniquely Pakistani trait.

But the failure to develop this ‘talent’ fully is the biggest reason why Pakistan has fallen off the charts in international cricket, pace bowling coach Ian Pont says.

Pont, who is currently the bowling coach Pakistan Super League side Quetta Gladiators and has also worked with several international teams, mentions the likes of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad as some of the recent examples who could become bigger stars.

“Pakistan has had the happy knack of finding talent from around the country. But my personal view is that it has not been amazing at developing it fully,” Pont says in an interview to Dawn.

Pont, who has worked with the England and Wales Cricket board as the National Skill Sets Coach and also served top county sides namely Kent, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, emphasises on the fact that ‘recognising talent’ simply cannot be enough.

“There is quite a difference between finding a pacer from a pacer hunt compared to what you do with him after that,” said the Englishman.

“And I feel this is a key area for Pakistan to focus on, as I have mentioned previously.”

Pont, 54, is well aware about the dynamics of Pakistani pacers as he has also worked with former fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

Pont has also been observing the fast-bowlers who are currently a part of the Pakistan roster and is of the opinion that the likes of Wahab, Amir and Irfan could improve further.

Pont says Amir has continued to look good even after his five-year spot-fixing ban but had the ‘potential to do even better’.

“Amir has made a good comeback and has shown he has the ability to become a key member of the team.”

“I have always enjoyed watching him bowl.

“I stated before that he has a better technical action than Wasim Akram, but that’s not to say he will be a better bowler.

“You have to be able to maximise what assets you have, or develop new ones,” he added.

Pont also praises Wahab Riaz ability but believes that the 30-year-old needs the right ‘mindset’ to become a consistent performer.

Role of head-coach

And that, according to the Englishman, is the primary responsibility of a head coach.

The national cricket board is in search of a replacement for Waqar Younis. — File
The national cricket board is in search of a replacement for Waqar Younis. — File

Following Waqar Younis’ resignation after Pakistan’s dismal show in limited overs cricket which ended with the disastrous exit from the World T20, the national cricket board is in search of a replacement.

Names of former foreign and local cricketers are being considered for the position and the appointment is expected to come before Pakistan’s full tour to England which commences July 16.

However, Pont believes that success as a cricketer does not always translate into success as a coach and Pakistan need someone who can make players play for the country.

“Identifying the issues and correcting them, is what Pakistan requires right now. Nothing less,” said Pont.

“I don’t think it matters too much whether a coach is from one country or another.

“My own view is to find the best person to work with the team and create an environment of winning.

“There are many reasons why high profile coaches, who were great players, might not actually be the best people to coach or lead a team of players who are underachieving,” he added.

Pakistan were successful under Waqar in the Test arena but the team has failed miserably in limited-overs in the last two years.

Waqar, after resigning from his position, said on numerous occasions that the Pakistan Test side was successful because it was ‘balanced’ and along with a good leader in Misbah-Ul-Haq, was equipped with the right players who were assigned tasks according to their abilities.

Domestic cricket stats not enough

Pont once again points to the inability to develop players as the main reason for this deficit.

“Domestic cricket can rarely be an indicator of who will do well for their country - it can only be a pointer to who is in form.” — File
“Domestic cricket can rarely be an indicator of who will do well for their country - it can only be a pointer to who is in form.” — File

But Pont cautions about reading too much into performance in domestic cricket.

“Domestic cricket can rarely be an indicator of who will do well for their country - it can only be a pointer to who is in form,” he said.

The former fast bowler, who has also worked with the Netherlands and Bangladesh national sides as a pace consultant was of the opinion that skill camps should be set up after talent coming from domestic cricket circuit is recognised.

“The most important thing for Pakistan, I feel, is in developing talent, having skills camps with world class development coaches, identifying special players for elite training and ID key groups so they can be exposed to technical improvements,” he said.

“Players coming into the national side might be fully developed so it is imperative to have a bridge into that set up with those types of development groups.”

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