DateLine: 29th November 2010
Throughout his playing career Moin Khan was renowned as the fighter in the Pakistani team who could always be relied on. He might not have been as talented as other gloveman in Pakistan but he made up for it with toil and gusto of enthusiasm. As we look ahead eagerly to the World Cup, PakPassion.net spoke exclusively with Moin as he described which players should make the cut.
The 1999 World Cup Pakistani team many say was the most talented ever to represent Pakistan and Moin Khan was one of the stars of the tournament held in the UK. When the Pakistani team returned back from a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Steve Waugh led Australian team in the 1999 World Cup Final, Moin was one of the few players that were spared criticism from the public and general media. As the cricket world prepares for the showpiece event to be held in the subcontinent next year, Moin was circumspect on Pakistan's chances. "PCB have made a lot of mess. The team should have been finalised 6 months ago, but unfortunately we are still not sure who will be in the squad." Moin also mirrored the views of ex-Pakistani coach Geoff Lawson in claiming, "There is lot of instability in the team like the board and if Pakistan does well, it has to be due to individual brilliance."
For much of his international playing career the Rawalpindi born cricketer spent competing with Rashid Latif for the keeping spot. It is such competition which Moin believes is required for breeding success. "Itís important to have a backup and if you donít, players begin to take their spots for granted which is the reason Kamran Akmal's performances have been down," Moin said. Ironically it was Kamranís emergence which played a major role in ending Moinís international playing career. While Kamranís career started brightly, over the last three years he has faded into obscurity with major question marks on his keeping ability, but Moin was still confident that the loss of form was just due to a lack of concentration. "He is a very good keeper, a very good batsman as well but PCB need to insure all the players have competition," Moin added.
Kamranís batting strengths on the subcontinent pitches could prove a major force for Pakistan during the tournament. "As a player he should be in the team for the World Cup," Moin said. However Kamranís name continues to pop up in the fixing scandal which has jeopardised Pakistani cricket, and Moin was wary that it could hurt his chance. "Because of the circumstances around Kamran, the PCB needs to take the tough decision on whether to include him or not for the World Cup."
In the test arena, Kamran has more recently been replaced by Zulqarnain Haider and now his brother Adnan Akmal, however Moin feels that Sarfraz Ahmed should be the incumbent. Sarfraz was widely praised when he captained the U19 team to a famous World Cup win in 2006 and he has since been a regular for the A team and a prolific scorer in first class cricket. "Sarfraz is a better gloveman and batsman then Adnan. If you are selecting a player for the A team then he should be the one who should get the nod if the senior teams need a replacement," Moin said.
Shoaib Malik has also been missing from action in the Pakistani team recently and Moin feels that is the way it should be. "He is a very good player but has not been performing well for sometime now and should not be in the team," Moin claimed. The 28 year old all-rounder last played for Pakistan at the Asia Cup in June. "He needs to play in domestic cricket and perform well and then come into the team. No player should be selected until and unless he performs well consistently in domestic circuit. Let him just perform in domestic for now." Moin believes that dropped players are being brought back too early into the fold without allowing them to reassess their skills and hence giving them a false sense of security. "If you bring a player in the team very soon without him performing in domestic cricket, players start thinking that the team needs them. The Team never needs an individual but an individual always needs the team," Moin said.
Another player who Moin feels doesnít warrant selection in the World Cup Squad is former captain Mohammad Yousuf. Yousuf has been dogged by injury of late and although he was selected for the recently concluded ODI series against South Africa in UAE he was only able to play the final game before injury forced him to return to Pakistan. "How can you select a player (for the final ODI) who has fitness issues and he has just recovered, and arrived in the UAE ahead of a young guy who has been playing well." Moin felt the rigours of ODI and T20 cricket were no longer for the Pakistani batting stalwart as he added "Yousuf should concentrate only on test cricket." Moin is of the opinion that the 36 year old spot should be filled by the impressive Asad Shafiq. "Yousuf has a lot of fitness issues and a young player like Asad should get a chance. Asad was playing well in the ODI against South Africa but for some reason he was dropped for Yousuf."
Moin, a former Test captain was also very critical of the PCB's appointment of Misbah Ul Haq as test captain. When queried on his opinion, Moin replied "It is absolutely the wrong choice. He is defensive by nature and will never be an aggressive captain." Following the disastrous tour of Australia in 2009/2010, Misbah was dropped from the Pakistani squad and many observers felt it would be the end of his international playing career. However with a lack of options due to various reasons, Misbah was fast-tracked back into the squad and promoted to lead the side. "How can you make someone captain who has not been performing well and has not been in the team?" Moin questioned. "As far as I see, Younus is the only one who should lead this team. When the PCB called Younis back, he should have been given the captaincy as well." Younus had a successful stint as captain which culminated in Pakistan winning the T20 World Cup in 2009. However rumours of infighting and lack of support led Younis to step down from the position. "Younus has led the team previously, he is the most senior player and he is also the best batsman in the team," Moin added.
Moin, who was part of the 1992 winning World Cup team, has first-hand experienced the joy the prestigious tournament brings to the nation. He will be hopeful that regardless of the personnel and the controversies that Pakistan will rise above the challenge and will be once again holding aloft the trophy at Mumbaiís Wankhede Stadium in early April.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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