The knives seem to be out for Inzamam. In Pakistan cricket history, losing a series to India has almost invariably resulted in the skipper paying the ultimate price of being sacked.

Mercifully, this is not going to be the case for Inzy though there have been calls from some quarters for someone else to be entrusted with the One-Day captaincy.

I don’t subscribe to that view. Inzy has been the single most significant unifying factor in moulding the present team into a cohesive unit. The 4-1 series defeat was greatly offset by the earlier Test series victory.

Apart from being a successful captain, Inzy has arguably proved himself over the years to be perhaps one of the best batsmen the country has produced. The cold, hard facts and figures prove me right. At the cost of sounding repetitive, I prefer Inzy over greats like Tendulkar and Lara.

My logic is simple. Unlike his two great contemporaries, Inzy has always delivered when the chips are down. He has united the team and commands respect from teammates. He has also taught them to respect each other.

It is surprising that Inzy has been made captain only for 2006. Perhaps it is the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) policy to name captains from year to year. But Pakistan cricket’s interests would have been best served if Inzy was appointed skipper till the 2007 World Cup.

His misfortune is that he has been saddled with a coach who doesn’t seem to know what he is doing. Woolmer, in my humble opinion, is arguably overrated and overpaid coach in Pakistan cricket history.

Unlike Miandad or Chappell, Woolmer is unable to actually do something and show the players, which is the normal part of any coach’s duties. That is the main reason for Pakistan’s inconsistent performance at the highest level and specially in the vitally important fielding department which certainly played a huge part in ODI reverse.

He has also assembled around him a coterie of highly-paid South Africans since he does not seem to be accountable to anyone. I have nothing against South Africans but there are far better professional coaches available in England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and even in our own backyard than the present PCB coaching staff.

Woolmer is also trying to get Jonty Rhodes as a fielding coach in addition to another coach for bowling. One wonders what Woolmer will do himself. Physiotherapist Lifson is reported to be away on leave when the injury-hit team needs him most and an important tour to Sri Lanka is just round the corner.

Another factor of Pakistan’s loss against India in ODIs was coach’s incomprehensible practice of chopping and changing and shuffling the batting order which prevented the team from settling down.

Yet, Woolmer has not been able to give the team a reliable pair of openers in more than a year. It is known to all followers of the game that by adopting the same method Woolmer turned South Africa, then the second best team in the world, into also ran.

Which leads one to ask: Why was he hired by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)? This is something that must be probed. To Woolmer’s good fortune, he has had a chairman selection committee which is only too happy to look the other way just to retain his job.

Unlike most other sports, the captain of a cricket team wields a lot of power. Here is a sincere piece of advice to Inzy. Listen to all the advice that you get from the coach or anybody else. But do what you think is in the best interest of the team, you are the most experienced player at present.

A recent bright spot on the Pakistan cricket firmament was the way in which the Under-19 team retained the World Cup in Colombo. My heartiest congratulations to our future stars, especially Anwar Ali Khan whose early strikes enabled the team to successfully defend the very modest total of 109 runs in the final against India.

The senior team must consider the kind of pitches it will encounter in Sri Lanka in view of the low scoring final. As the old saying goes, horses for courses. One hopes the team for Sri Lanka is chosen keeping that in mind. And here is wishing Inzy and his boys all the luck in Serendipity.

(The writer is a former Test player)



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