November 3, 2008

What role new coach Intikhab Alam has to play?


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The recent appointment of Intikhab Alam as the coach of the Pakistan cricket team has drawn mixed reaction. He has replaced Geoff Lawson, a former Australian fast bowler, whose contract was terminated abruptly by the new management in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Intikhab’s success or failure will depend on what kind of role he is assigned by the new PCB chief, Ijaz Butt. The buzz is that Shoaib Malik’s days as the captain are also numbered and that Intikhab may elevate someone else of his own choice to that position.

Obviously the captain plays the major role in implementing the policies of the coach in the field of play in the game of cricket. It’s the captain who has to take the decisions during the course of action. So it becomes vitally important to have the captain and the coach on the same wavelength.

Intikhab, if given the right to select his own captain, is more likely to replace Shoaib Malik rather than to retain him.

There is also a possibility that the PCB might not authorize the coach to have a captain of his own choice appointed at this moment. This is Pakistan cricket where everything and anything is possible. Shoaib Malik may lose the captaincy shortly or he may even continue for the next many years. Nobody knows. Nor can anyone predict.
Coming to Intikhab, he was known to be a defensive captain. Or in other words attack was never his forte while leading the team.

Only Ijaz Butt and his advisors in the PCB could know it best why a man of defensive mindset has been appointed the national coach at a time when the Pakistan team has been under fire for not playing positive cricket in the recent past.

Shoaib Malik has often been criticized for not having led from the front and not playing aggressive cricket. If aggression has to return to the Pakistan cricket there is very little chance of getting it with Intikhab Alam-Shoaib Malik combination.

Intikhab was certainly the coach of the national team that won the World Cup in 1992 under the inspiring leadership of Imran Khan. The entire world knows, however, what marginal role Intikhab was playing when Imran was at the helm of the affairs.

Imran used to call the shots throughout his stint as captain and the people he turned to for advice were believed to be Javed Miandad and Mudassar Nazar. Intikhab hardly ever came in the picture in matters relating to strategic plan.

Intikhab’s appointment as the coach has been greeted in some quarters more because of the exit of a foreigner than any cricket reason.

Lawson’s tenure didn’t last long. He had taken over at a difficult time for the team as well as the country. There was very little cricket played in his days and there was hardly an opportunity for him to unfold his talents. He had every reason to feel hard done by the PCB decision of not letting him complete the contractual period.


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