ISLAMABAD, March 19: While the cricket fraternity in Pakistan mourned on Monday the death of coach Bob Woolmer, former players fiercely criticized captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, saying he should have quit sooner from One-day Internationals.
“He should have quit before the World Cup, the damage has already been done,” said outspoken former Test fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz.
Inzamam announced his retirement from limited-overs games on Sunday, hours after coach Woolmer died in Jamaica and one day after Ireland registered one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history by eliminating Pakistan with a three-wicket victory.
Sarfraz said the death of Woolmer would mute anger over Pakistan's loss, which prompted some local cricket fans to burn Inzamam's effigy.
“With the death of Woolmer, the defeat of Pakistan will die down,” Sarfraz said.
But he slammed Inzamam's decision to keep playing Test cricket – if selected – saying the 37-year-old batsman's aging legs would struggle to carry him through five-day matches.
“He is not physically fit enough to play even one-day cricket so how could he play Test cricket,” he said. “(But) it's our history that players do not retire themselves, they were always shown the door.”Intikhab Alam, who coached Pakistan to World Cup triumph in 1992, supported Sarfraz’s views.
“Inzamam should have thought about quitting long ago,” he said.
“He either hits a boundary or runs a single in one-day cricket which shows that age is fast catching in on him,” he said.
Inzamam needs another 22 runs to surpass Pakistan's highest Test scorer, Javed Miandad (8,832), in Tests with 8,813 runs from 119 matches.
“That's the only reason I could see behind his intention to continue playing Test cricket,” ex-Test captain and wicket-keeper Rashid Latif said.
Rashid said Inzamam should have stepped down after last year's Oval fiasco against England when Pakistan forfeited the Test over alleged ball tampering by Inzamam.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board should have sacked him then, but they waited and the result is that we are out of the World Cup after playing just two matches,” he said.
The PCB has been run by an ad hoc committee for the last eight years with the president of the country appointing the chairman.
“That's the root cause of our debacles,” Rashid said. “Businessmen are in the ad hoc committee who have little knowledge about cricket.”
PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf has called a meeting of the committee on March 31 and in a statement said: “We will finalize plans for the future to build a strong team.”
“We have to improve standards of the grounds, pitches and cricketing balls used in our domestic cricket that don't match international standards,” Intikhab said.
Rashid said Pakistan had to think longer term to build a successful national side.
“We have to groom players of under-14, but who will do it?” he asked.
Pakistan also face uncertainty as they hunt for a coach to replace Woolmer, whose demise and the team's loss in the World Cup dominated newspaper front pages on Monday.
“A dark day in Pakistan's cricket history,” read a headline in Dawn daily.
Despite the team's humiliation in the current World Cup, the mercurial side had turned in some useful performances during Woolmer's tenure.
Intikhab said he wanted the PCB to opt for a Pakistani to take the reins, although he offered no names of possible candidates.
“A foreign coach will take another two years to understand our cricketing culture so what's the use of hiring a foreign coach?” Intikhab said. “Then there are several other problems like language, lifestyle and food for a foreigner in our country.
“I would support the idea of hiring a Pakistani coach and now it's up to the PCB who it thinks is better for us.”—AP