Mushtaq believes coaching staff are all ‘on same page
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir and batsman Haris Sohail have withdrawn from Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming England tour. Amir, who had retired from Test cricket last year, and was thus only eligible for selection for the three-match T20I series, pulled out so that he could be present for the birth of his second child in August. It is understood that Sohail withdrew due to personal reasons.
The Pakistan players and the support staff are expected to arrive in England several weeks before the start of the first match to be able to train in the country, as well as complete the mandatory quarantine period for all foreigners coming to the UK. That means the side will spend over two months in England. The touring party will form a “bubble” where they will not interact with anyone outside of the group, and regular tests for Covid-19 will be conducted on the tour.
The three Tests and three T20Is will all be played behind closed doors, and earlier this week, the ICC had approved the use of substitutes if a player showed symptoms of Covid-19 during a Test match. Players’ families will not be allowed to accompany them.
ALSO READ: ICC approves use of substitute if player shows Covid-19 symptoms in Tests These particular arrangements likely played a significant part in Sohail’s decision to pull out of the tour. Sohail has usually been reluctant to tour without his family, and at the World Cup in England last year, he was given special permission by the PCB to have his family with him. Agreeing to the tour would have meant months away from his family, with the pandemic meaning exceptions were not possible this time.
Mushtaq Ahmed said it would require clear communication and tactful management to ensure Pakistan’s high-profile coaching team worked smoothly with the players on the team’s upcoming tour of England. The former Pakistan legspinner has been brought in as spin bowling coach, one of two big-name appointments for the England tour, the other being Younis Khan as batting coach.
This is the first time since Bob Woolmer’s appointment as head coach in 2004 that Pakistan is travelling with a fully Pakistani backroom staff. The reasons why the PCB had wanted to avoid an all-local environment in that time included internal politics, trust deficits, and infighting that plagued the side in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Besides, the lack of professionally qualified coaches in Pakistan meant the local options were limited.
“We all are on the same page with a clear-cut predefined role,” Mushtaq said. “Misbah is our head coach. Younis is going to deal with batsmen as consultant, Waqar [Younis] will be working with the bowlers, and I am doing mentoring and working with spinners.
So all of us from the same generation who played modern-day cricket are coming together to work for Pakistan. The problem will arise when there is a communication gap, [so] we have to look out to gel the team. If there is any conflict, it needs to be resolved there and then and move on. We have to play smart.
“We all are sensible people and this [combination] is going to work well. I have worked with big coaches and the biggest example is dealing with Andy [Flower] and KP (Kevin Pietersen). Both didn’t have the mutual understanding but England still won big games. I had a role there, I used to mentor KP and at the same time worked with Andy as well to manage the communication gap. So we (the Pakistan dressing room) shouldn’t allow that communication gap to create misunderstandings. We are very optimistic that we will all come together and graciously share our experiences and stay united on tour.”
Mushtaq also downplayed the perception that Younis does not get on with the PCB. “Younis Khan is a straightforward guy and people learn with the passage of time,” he said. “With age you learn a lot. Younis is a wonderful guy.
Whenever you talk to him sensibly, he always responds positively. His work ethics are great and we give his example to youngsters to follow his lifestyle and how he manages his routines. He is a professional and has a tough mindset and we need people like him.—APP