Azhar Mahmood feels coaching staff deserved chance to clarify position

Updated August 20, 2019

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Azhar admitted fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain’s selection in the World Cup squad was a mistake. — APP/File
Azhar admitted fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain’s selection in the World Cup squad was a mistake. — APP/File

KARACHI: Former Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood expressed disappointment over Pakistan Cricket Board’s recent decision of not renewing contracts of the team’s coaching staff.

Azhar, head coach Mickey Arthur and batting coach Grant Flower were not given extensions after Pakistan ended their World Cup campaign after failing to make it to the semi-finals.Azhar criticised the PCB for not giving him and Flower the chance to clarify his position before making the final decision. On the other hand, Arthur and captain Sarfraz Ahmed had a meeting with PCB and it’s cricket committee before the announcement was made.

“PCB and its Cricket committee just invited Mickey Arthur from the entire coaching staff but did not give us (Azhar and Flower) a chance to clarify and answer about my own department,” Azhar said during a television interview with DawnNews.

“Throughout my tenure I raised this matter to PCB officials that as bowling coach I must have a say in selection matters as I had a better idea about every bowler but it didn’t happen,” said Azhar.

“After the Champions Trophy victory, Arthur became more powerful and he took all the major decisions along chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and captain Sarfraz but Mickey was dominating.”

Azhar admitted fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain’s selection in the World Cup squad was a mistake and Usman Shinwari deserved to be in place of the former.

“Dropping Usman Shinwari was a mistake and injustice, Selectors rated Hasnain because of his pace but in my opinion there was not much difference between Shinwari and Hasnain’s pace,” revealed the British-Pakistani. “More importantly, Shinwari was in form and had taken wickets in limited overs cricket before the World Cup.”

Azhar, however, didn’t play down Hasnain’s potential as a future Pakistan team member. But during the World Cup, Azhar said, the hours he put in with Hasnain during practice didn’t give much return.

Strangely, Hasnain was also ignored when the the PCB awarded central contracts to 14 players last week and was also not named for the national team’s upcoming pre-season camp.

“Hasnain is also a good prospect. Although I worked hard with him but see they didn’t offer him the central contract or invited him for the pre season camp so I think we should make a proper system where we pick and groom players instead pick and later forget them,” said Azhar.

About the more experienced bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, Azhar said the duo were still a need for the Pakistan side — specially for Test cricket. Amir had recently announced his retirement from the longest format while Wahab has featured in Tests sporadically.

Azhar said Amir and Wahab’s role should be managed and both should be saved for series in Australia and England considering pace-friendly conditions there.

“Amir and Wahab should be playing Test Cricket because Pakistan need their experience but selectors should pick and choose Test matches for Wahab and Amir specially for England and Australia tests.”

The former bowling coach said he has faith in the upcoming younger lot of pacers. He said left-armers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shinwari are here to stay.

Azhar also said that he was satisfied with his own performance as the Pakistan bowling coach since the last three years and feels happy that he trained some raw youngsters and helped them solidify their place in the national side.

“I’m satisfied with my performance, When I joined, most of the bowlers were inexperienced and I worked very hard with them. Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Shinwari and Shaheen — all came as newcomers during my time and they worked hard and produced good performances,” he said.

Azhar also backed Sarfraz to lead Pakistan in the World T20 next year but urged the captain to improve his game when it comes to Test cricket.

“Sarfraz is wonderful T20 captain, Also he did well in ODIs too, where he won us the Champions Trophy. He is still young and can improve in all three formats.”

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2019