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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2007, 13:59 GMT
Pakistan look for new leaders
By Paresh Soni
BBC Sport in Jamaica

Pakistan cricket has been thrown into disarray after a week in which the team suffered tragedy off the field and disappointment on it.

Defeat by Ireland meant they could not qualify for the Super 8 stage of the World Cup.

Inzamam-ul-Haq
Inzamam decided he has had enough of the cares of captaincy

The following day, coach Bob Woolmer, whose tenure was due to end in June, died after being found unconscious in his hotel room and Inzamam-ul-Haq announced he would be stepping down as captain.

In addition, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Naseem Ashraf and the selectors offered their resignations.

So where does cricket in Pakistan go from here?

Former player and chairman of selectors Aamir Sohail believes a radical overhaul is required, with more clarity in the appointments of board members and selectors.

"The job of PCB chairman has to be advertised. The time has come where you can no longer get somebody from the Foreign Office, without any experience of sport," Sohail told BBC Sport.

"They have to look for professionals who have knowledge of the game, the politics of the game and how to deal with that, and then things will be smoother.

"Whoever has the best ideas for reviving cricket in Pakistan should be given the task for three or four years, but should be questioned on what they have done in that time.

"They can't just tender their resignations and walk away. Whoever is responsible should be answerable."

Ehsan Qureshi, a senior sports reporter for the Associated Press of Pakistan, has been covering the game for 25 years.

He believes senior players are pandered to too often, and become too comfortable because there is no serious competition for places.

That, he says, is down to youngsters being denied opportunities and the poor quality of domestic cricket.

"We have failed to develop a big pool of players for the national team," said Qureshi.

Aamir Sohail
You can only appoint competent people who know the game

Aamir Sohail

"The basic problem is player power - the captain has his likes and dislikes and the same goes for the PCB and the Pakistani media.

"Everyone is working in their self-interests and we don't have a competitive first-class system. The top players rarely play for their teams so the young players aren't tested against quality players."

Woolmer was the second foreigner to coach the team after another Englishman Richard Pybus.

There have been suggestions that a Pakistani is likely to succeed him, a move which would be backed by Sohail.

"Most of the players come from humble backgrounds, haven't finished schooling and struggle to speak English," the 40-year-old, now a television commentator, explained.

"On that basis I think it would be a good idea to have a Pakistani coach but they have to be good - you can only appoint competent people who know the game."

Qureshi says the new man needs to be a strong-minded disciplinarian.

"It is a difficult task, you have to pick a powerful man who can dictate his own terms and not be dictated to by players.

"There is a lot of money on offer so there will be plenty of people interested but we need someone who will not only improve the players technically, but have structural planning for the future."

Vice-captain Younis Khan, who has stood in for Inzamam in the past, is favourite to land the role of skipper and Sohail believes there are few alternatives.

"He's been groomed and is the long-term answer. If you see the composition of the side, Mohammad Yousuf might not play for that much longer and there's a question mark over whether he is fit enough to play one-day cricket.

Younis Khan
Younis Khan could be next in line as Pakistan skipper

"Apart from that there is no-one else who would be an automatic choice in the team and could compete with Younis."

Qureshi, however, believes they should look at someone even younger than the 29-year-old middle-order batsman.

"When you become captain of the national side you need to think of the bigger picture and Younis has not always been able to do that," he insisted.

"Can he get the team to gel, act as a motivating force and lead from the front? There are plenty of unanswered questions about him.

"I think it would be better to groom someone like Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi or Salman Butt, although they need to be sure of their place in the team.

"If you go with someone like Younis you will still be appointing from tournament to tournament."

Despite the latest crisis, former opener Sohail insists the ingredients are there for the country to be a force in world cricket.

"Having worked for the PCB and been a chief selector I've gone to almost every part of Pakistan, and there's so much talent it's unbelievable.

"If the authorities and decision makers get organized and start making professional decisions, distributing power among the people who work for the PCB and not confining it one person, with decisions made by consensus after constructive arguments, I think there will be a quick turnaround in fortunes."

SEE ALSO
Woolmer widow raises death doubts
22 Mar 07 |  South Asia
Pakistan provide fitting tribute
21 Mar 07 |  Cricket
Pakistan chief and selectors quit
20 Mar 07 |  Pakistan
Cricket mourns death of Woolmer
19 Mar 07 |  Cricket
Inzamam quits Pakistan captaincy
19 Mar 07 |  Pakistan


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