How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead

How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead
Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi, right, consoles batting partner Naseem Shah as they leave the field after their loss in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Sunday, June 9, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 23 June 2024
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How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead

How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead
  • The two coaches need to lead from the front and protect the players from attacks by ex-cricketers
  • The coaches should also set up clear expectations within the team to make player perform better

NEW YORK: How many times have we heard the words inconsistent, unpredictable and chaotic used to describe the Pakistan men’s cricket team’s performances over the years?

The answer is numerous, although usually the description is followed by the qualification that the team are at their most dangerous when in that state.

In the wake of the team’s failure to progress to the Super 8s stage of the 2024 T20 World Cup, the mood is different and much darker.

Inconsistency, unpredictability and chaos did not translate into becoming a dangerous opponent. Nor should it, because it is much more likely that a team characterized as consistent, hardworking and united will perform best.

In my view, it is time for those involved in Pakistan’s cricket world to step away from the myth surrounding what it takes to galvanize the team. In its place ought to be a realization that the raw talent that once helped them produce magical moments is not being harnessed properly and that teams in other countries have adopted a more adventurous style of playing cricket.

The big question is how can Pakistan achieve such a transformation? There is nothing new about the current environment. Issues with chairmen and selection have abounded over the years, leading to accusations of nepotism and favoritism. However, I believe that there is reason to be hopeful.

The two new coaches, Gary Kirsten for white ball cricket and Jason Gillespie for red ball, are in positions which allow them to make decisions which are likely to be backed unconditionally by the hierarchy, even if it is just to save face for themselves.

Hopefully, the coaches will take full advantage of this opportunity to set their paths immediately. It is not an understatement to suggest that they are set for the hardest task of their careers. I was coached by Gillespie at Yorkshire and know his style is to be calm, which will be of help in this task. He prefers to let players lead while occupying a supporting act. From a distance, Kirsten seems to have a similar style, evidenced by his time with India in winning the 2011 World Cup under MS Dhoni’s captaincy.

Anyone who has followed the men in green will be very aware of all the issues with the team environment, so those must be addressed first. It is a very insecure one with a lot of noise.

Personally, I would not have chosen the two-coach policy. These players need simple and consistent messaging to be able to go out and express themselves. However, given that two coaches are in place, it will be especially important for them to work together and build a trusted backroom staff body which is the same across the formats. Time is of the essence to put this in place as pressure to improve both team and individual performances will build quickly. In my view, the environment needs freshening and unnecessary baggage which has built up over the last couple of years needs removing.

One of the most difficult and contentious issues is that of the captaincy. In the current situation, I would play down the power and importance of the captain. This goes against my natural grain but, for the immediate future, the coach needs to be the figurehead and lead. Obviously, there still needs to be a captain, ideally across formats, so as to reduce noise and deliver one simple message. Pakistan’s next white ball match is not until early November in Australia, so there is no need for immediate action. However, there are two Tests with Bangladesh to be hosted in August. Shan Masood is the current captain.

Another contentious issue is the selection process and, within it, the role of Wahab Riaz. It was only on Mar. 24 that the current seven-member selection committee was established. This included Riaz, who had previously acted as chair, but that title was removed, Riaz remaining as a committee member. Somewhat impracticably, each member carried an equal vote from which a majority decision would be formed. How this works in practice is unclear.

In my view, the experiment should be ditched, with the coaches having the final say in a reduced committee. Riaz, who is believed to be close to the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) chair, was senior team manager during the World Cup, despite there being a team manager and a coach! There is a public perception that Riaz appears to wield too much influence. It remains to be seen if the review of Pakistan’s World Cup performance will recommend that it is reduced. The results are expected shortly.

The first requirement for team selection will come with the Bangladesh Tests. Gillespie will oversee a training camp ahead of these matches to prepare both the national and A teams. He has already said that “we can’t rely on the same 11 players to play day in and day out. We need to make sure that we’ve got a squad mentality.”

Surprisingly, the talent pool appears to be small with a lack of ready-made replacements in some positions, so there is a need to identify and back those with the necessary character and skill. One of the options is Mohammad Haris. He has the modern-day approach which surely needs to be injected into the team’s approach and pursued all the way to the next T20 World Cup. Irfan Khan Niazi is another young dynamo who could grow into a good finisher, whilst investment in batter Omair Yousuf could prove beneficial.

In the fast-bowling department, Shaheen Shah Afridi needs the necessary support to return to basics and improve his performance. In my view, he would be advised to forget about the captaincy to concentrate on taking wickets and being a match winner. Naseem Shah needs protection and support as he appears to be on the right path to being world class. I expect Gillespie to provide those levels of support for both players.

Leg-spinner Usama Mir would have been in my World Cup squad, whilst Mehran Mumtaz has the ability to be the all-format No. 1 spinner. Shadab Khan needs time to rediscover his bowling skills. He has been brilliant as a batter for Islamabad but that seems to have skewed his thought processes in international cricket. He has succeeded before and I have no doubt he will again, but he is another who needs to go back to basics.

My suggested change in approach for both coaches may not be very natural for either man. Both prefer to have a strong captain who takes the lead while they create an environment which encourages the players to make their own decisions.

In the short term, my view is that the coaches need to lead from the front, dealing with the noise and protecting their players from the inevitable attacks by ex-players, pundits and fans. Internally, they are advised to set out clear expectations. The team must become the priority in what is an insecure culture which makes the players think more about personal performances.

The two men need to settle the players in their minds through a combination of hand holding and tough love. Hopefully, a period of calm and support will create a better environment for success.


Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood

Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood
Updated 15 July 2024
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Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood

Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood
  • Pakistan’s benchmark index rose 1.7 percent to hit a record high after Islamabad reached an agreement for $7 billion loan with the IMF
  • The index has soared 30 percent this year and has almost doubled since Pakistan signed its last deal for $3 billion standby arrangement

Most emerging market stocks started the week lower after disappointing China economic data, while Pakistani equities traded at record highs and investors assessed the fallout of a revised budget in Kenya.
China stocks ended flat on Monday and Hong Kong equities logged their biggest one-day drop after the economy grew much slower than expected in the second quarter, prompting downward revisions for annual growth by brokerages J.P.Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
Attention was also on the once-in-five-years ‘Third Plenum’, due to end on Thursday, where markets hope for some efforts to manage China’s vast property crisis, boost domestic consumption and revitalize the private sector.
“It remains the case that China is taking pragmatic steps to address the problems it can fix, but at nothing like the pace foreign investors or net commodity exporters wish to see,” said Hasnain Malik, head of equity research at Tellimer Research.
MSCI’s index tracking bourses in developing economies slipped 0.2 percent, while an index tracking currencies was flat. Traders assessed political developments in the US and the implications of a second Donald Trump presidency.
In South Asia, Pakistan’s benchmark index rose 1.7 percent to hit a record high after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the country reached a staff level agreement (SLA) for a $7 billion, 37-month loan program.
The index has soared 30 percent this year and has almost doubled since Pakistan signed its last SLA for the $3 billion standby arrangement.
India’s main stock indexes also traded at record highs. Quarterly earnings were in focus along with the new government’s annual budget expected on July 23, where a private lender expects the country to cut its current year’s gross market borrowings after a better-than-estimated surplus transfer from the central bank.
Meanwhile, yield on Kenyan sovereign bonds slipped between 5 and 13 basis points (bps) after the government said it plans to cut annual spending by 1.9 percent and widen the fiscal deficit to 3.6 percent of GDP, weeks after it was forced to roll back tax hikes due to mass protests.
Most currencies in eastern and central Europe were tepid against the euro. The forint inched up 0.2 percent ahead of remarks on monetary policy from the Hungary’s deputy central bank governor.
Elsewhere, the shekel inched up 0.1 percent against the dollar ahead of June inflation data and against the backdrop of talks of a Gaza ceasefire, while Rwanda’s franc was flat against the euro as elections were underway.


Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport

Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport
Updated 15 July 2024
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Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport

Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport
  • This is the fifth international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months
  • Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since a 2020 fake pilot license scandal

KARACHI: A two-member Canadian team on Monday began its aviation security assessment at Jinnah International Airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said.
The team comprises inspectors, Barbara Durette and Abdel Tahir, from Transport Canada — a Canadian government entity responsible for policies and services of road, rail, marine and air transportation.
It held a meeting with Pakistani officials at the PCAA headquarters. The four-day assessment will focus on aviation security documentation, airport arrangements, catering and cargo complexes.
“The team will be inspecting implementation of various aviation security protocols at the airport and implementation of special security measures being undertaken by PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) for direct flights to Canada,” the PCAA said in a statement.
It said the assessment is a continuation of collaborative efforts between Transport Canada and the PCAA to enhance aviation security standards in the South Asian country.
This is the 5th international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months. The PCAA earlier said it had successfully passed all previous inspections, including an inaugural assessment by the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (UAE-GCAA) of Islamabad and Karachi airports that concluded on July 5.
Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since 2020 following a scandal wherein approximately 262 out of 860 active pilots were said to have obtained fake licenses, leading to the grounding of around 150 pilots from the PIA and other carriers.
This revelation came in the wake of the tragic crash of PIA flight 8303 in Karachi, resulting in the suspension of PIA’s operations in the European Union (EU) and other regions and prompting calls for regulatory reforms to improve safety standards and transparency.


Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats

Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats
Updated 15 July 2024
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Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats

Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats
  • Khan’s PTI party was denied its share of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies, benefitting the ruling coalition
  • Government says the issue of granting reserved seats to PTI was not even in pleadings before the election commission, courts

ISLMABAD: The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday filed a petition seeking review of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that declared former prime minister Imran Khan’s party eligible for reserved seats in parliament.
The July 12 verdict in favor of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party dealt a blow to the ruling coalition of PM Sharif, which may lose its two-thirds majority in Pakistan’s parliament. PTI candidates contested the Feb. 8 national election in Pakistan as independents after the party was barred from polls on the technical grounds that it did not hold genuine intra-party polls, which is a legal requirement.
Subsequently, they won the most seats in the election, 93, but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said independents were ineligible for their share of 70 reserved seats — 60 for women, 10 for non-Muslims. The reserved seats were then distributed among other parties, mostly those in the ruling coalition, a decision appealed by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) that was joined by Khan-backed independents to claim their share of reserved seats.
In its review petition, the government noted the issue of granting reserved seats to the PTI was not even in the pleadings of the SIC before the election commission, the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court.
“SIC and PTI are two separate political parties and two separate entities. The Order under Review, it seems has treated them as one party with different names which cannot be permissible under the Law,” the government petition read.
“It is submitted and reiterated here that PTI neither filed any case before the ECP, nor before Peshawar High Court, nor before the Supreme Court, hence it is not entitled to any relief, let alone a relief which was not even pleaded.”
The petition stated that all returned candidates had already joined the SIC and hence there was no question of giving them an option of joining the PTI that too after many months of the election. It was also against Rule 92 (6) of the Election Rules, 2017 which states that once an independent candidate has joined a political party, there is no option to recall or cancel, it added.
“The Order under Review is against the settled principles of interpretation of the Constitution. By carving out a procedure which is not provided under the Constitution, Order under Review might have gone into the realm of creating and not just interpreting the Constitution which is against the long standing jurisprudence of this Honourable Court,” the petition read.
The government requested the top court to accept the review petition for hearing and stay implementation of its order declaring the PTI eligible for reserved parliamentary seats.
All candidates from Khan’s PTI party were forced to contest the February polls as independents after the party was stripped of its election symbol of the cricket bat by the ECP on the technical grounds that it did not hold intra-party elections, a prerequisite for any party to take part in polls.
The PTI is currently entitled to around 78 reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, which does not affect the parliamentary majority of the Sharif-led coalition government.
The July 12 verdict also bolstered political position of Khan’s supporters, whose rallying cry has been that the election commission and a pro-military caretaker government that oversaw the polls indulged in electoral fraud to deprive it of a victory. The ECP denies this.


Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM

Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM
Updated 15 July 2024
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Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM

Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM
  • Shehbaz Sharif also felicitated Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan on appointment as UAE deputy PM, defense minister
  • The UAE is Pakistan’s third-largest trading partner after China and US as well as home to more than a million Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday extended his felicitations to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on his appointment as deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai, announced the appointment of Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah as deputy PM as part of the UAE government amendments on Sunday.
He also announced the joining of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in the UAE government as deputy prime minister and minister of defense in the UAE cabinet.
In his message on X, Sharif also extended his congratulations to Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan on his appointment.
“Wishing them both success in their new endeavors & looking forward to further strengthening of our bilateral ties & deepening cooperation between our two brotherly nations,” the Pakistan prime minister said.

The UAE is Pakistan’s third-largest trading partner after China and the United States as well as home to more than a million Pakistani expatriates and the second-largest source of remittances to Pakistan after Saudi Arabia. It is also one of Pakistan’s closest allies and has frequently bailed out the South Asian country.
Policymakers in Pakistan also consider the Gulf state an optimal export destination due to its geographical proximity, which minimizes transportation and freight costs while facilitating commercial transactions.


Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM

Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM
Updated 16 July 2024
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Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM

Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM
  • The announcement comes hours after PM Shehbaz Sharif’s government said it was seeking to ban Khan’s party
  • Pakistan has been witnessing renewed political wrangling after court rulings in favor of Khan and his PTI party

ISLAMABAD: Asad Qaiser, a close aide of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan, on Monday said their Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was deliberating upon a no-confidence motion against Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif in parliament, in what appeared to be a tit-for-tat move in response to the government’s announcement of seeking a ban against the PTI.
Information Minister Attaullah Tarar announced the government had decided to file a high treason case against Khan and pursue a case to ban his party, unleashing a new challenge for the embattled PTI and its jailed leader.
The government’s decision followed a Supreme Court ruling that Khan’s PTI party was eligible for more than 20 extra reserved seats in parliament, which has mounted pressure on the weak coalition led by Sharif.
“We will see and contemplate if we want to bring a no-confidence motion against them or not,” Qaiser, a former National Assembly speaker, said in televised comments. “We will deliberate on that.”
Citing the increase in number of seats, Qaiser said the PTI would fight the government in parliament, clarifying that the PTI was a peaceful political party that believed in the rule of law and the constitution.
Separately, PTI leader Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari responded to Tarar’s announcement and said all cases against the PTI and ex-PM Khan were “politically motivated.”
“This is a sign of panic as they [federal government] have realized the courts can’t be threatened and put under pressure,” Bukhari said in a statement shared with reporters.
“I have been saying for a while now that we are under a soft martial law and this move only proves our point further.”

Khan’s PTI party says it has been facing a crackdown and mass arrest of members for standing by Khan, who has been in jail since August last year. Pakistani authorities deny the allegations.
Among four cases in which Khan was convicted, two have been suspended by courts and he has been acquitted in the others, though new cases have since been brought against him.
Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are motivated to keep him out of politics and behind bars. Authorities deny this.