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Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 15:49 GMT

Pakistan could look to Britain

By Sumant Bhatia
BBC Sport with the Pakistan team

Wasim Akram Pakistan's team manager believes attracting British youths to play for the country could be the answer to their dire showing at the World Cup.

The 1992 champions tumbled out in the first stage in South Africa after losing to Australia, England and India and drawing their final game with Zimbabwe.

And manager Shaharayar Khan believes the key problem was a lack of mental toughness and capacity to react to pressure situations.

He feels British Pakistani youths are potentially more disciplined and mentally tough than those in their homeland.

When he was Pakistan's High Commissioner in London he tried to arrange for talented young cricketers from areas such as Manchester and Bradford to go for coaching in Pakistan, but a lack of sponsorship scuppered the idea.

The Pakistan squad issued a statement apologising for their performances at the World Cup before they even touched down on home soil on Thursday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has launched an inquiry into what exactly went wrong.

Captain Waqar Younis, shell-shocked after the Zimbabwe match and cutting a forlorn figure, put the poor campaign down to three things:

  • Batsmen underperforming (Inzamam-ul-Haq scored less than 20 runs in six innings)

  • Bowlers sending down poor spells at crucial times (Abdul Razzaq took only one wicket in the tournament)

  • Poor fielding

    This was widely accepted to be one of the fittest and best coached sides in the country's history and Wasim Akram described the squad as more talented than the 1992 World Cup winning team.

    And unlike other Pakistan teams, this one genuinely got on well with each other.

    Some figures close to the team point to lengthy tours away from home taking a mental toll. At present, Pakistan cannot play home matches because of safety fears.

    Pakistan had both Australia and England on the ropes at five down for less than 120, yet both teams managed to post sizeable and winning scores.

    Only the veterans showed fighting quality, yet the likes of Saeed Anwar, Wasim Akram, Waqar, Inzamam and Rashid Latif are nearing retirement.

    A new pool of talent will be required to add to the likes of batsman Yousuf Youhana and pace bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Sami.

    The prospects of this happening are bleak. Talk to the likes of PCB bowling coach Sikander Bakht and he will argue political wrangling, lack of professionalism and favouritism are preventing talented youngsters from reaching the top flight.



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