Says the direction of Pakistan cricket needs to be reset
Ramiz Raja, in his first act as the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, has appointed former Australian opener Matthew Hayden and South African Vernon Philander as consultant coaches of the national team for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
“I think Hayden will bring an Australian touch of aggression in the Pakistan team and I personally know Philander who can also bring a positive change,” said Ramiz said in a press conference on Monday.
Hayden replaces Misbah-ul-Haq as head coach while Philander takes over from Waqar Younis — who both stepped down last week citing personal reasons and mental stress as a result of the Covid bio-secure environment surrounding fixtures and tours.
Hayden, 49, played 103 Tests, 161 ODIs and nine T20 internationals for Australia but has never coached at the highest level.
He was partly involved as batting consultant for the Australian team on a few occasions, notably on India’s tour in 2019.
Philander, 36, migrated to Britain in 2020 after playing 64 Tests, 30 ODIs and seven Twenty20 internationals for South Africa and is known as a master of swing bowling.
Pakistan will start a three-match one-day international series against New Zealand in Rawalpindi from Friday, followed by five Twenty20 internationals in Lahore.
For the New Zealand series, Pakistan will have former spinner Saqlain Mushtaq as interim coach and former allrounder Abdul Razzaq as his assistant.
Pakistan will open their T0 World Cup campaign against archrivals India in Dubai on October 24.
Bank Alfalah will sponsor both the coaches’ fees. Ramiz said PCB’s should be meeting its expenditures through strategic partnerships and sponsors.
The PCB chief said Pakistan have the potential to win the World Cup. “The whole idea is helping the team win the World Cup. They can surely win it.”
Ramiz said the direction of Pakistan cricket needs to be reset and improvements should be made on the grassroots level.
“The team’s performance is based on the infrastructure. the direction should be reset on the lower tiers as well,” he said, adding that the style of coaching in Pakistan’s cricket system also needs to be readdressed.
“For example if we need four openers and three wrist-spinners and we cannot find them, then there is a problem,” said the 59-year-old.
Ramiz blatantly expressed his lack of satisfaction over the current infrastructure of Pakistan’s domestic cricket.
“No work has been done on age cricket and club cricket has become almost non-existent because of more focus on making associations.”
He said school and club cricket “deserve a push” and believed that first-class cricket needed to be more vibrant.
Ramiz also announced that all the 192 active first-class cricketers in the country will be given a Rs100,000 increment in their monthly-retainerships.
This means that domestic men’s cricketers in the 2021-22 season will now earn between PKR140,000 to PKR250,000 per month, which is an increase of 250% for the players in the D category, the lowest category.
“It is our duty to care for our cricketers and continue to take measures which strengthen our system,” Ramiz said.
“This will also play a role in ending any uncertainty surrounding the current cricket structure; the welfare of present and former cricketers is paramount to me.”
The PCB chief said Pakistan need to play fearless cricket. “I talked to the players about our model. We all know Pakistan’s model should be based on a fearless approach to play cricket. Until the model is not described, confusion will stay.”
He said adapting to a more aggressive style of play may back fire but it is the only way to go, adding that it can only work if players consistently work hard. “We’ve to work on technique and skills to become an attractive team.”
With the T20 World Cup set to be held next month, Ramiz said all stakeholders should act responsibly and back the team which has been selected. “You’ve to take chance with the youth, once talent is identified the leadership should back it.”
In a bid to further strengthen the age-group structure and ensure that young cricketers are fully equipped for the modern-day cricket, Ramiz announced plans to launch an U19 T20 league to develop cricketers from the nascent stages.
“We need to develop an environment in which we generate professional cricketers at young level,” he said. “This will help the PSL franchises as well, who are on the lookout for youngsters. I would like the former greats to coach them. We need to give push to the age-group cricketers so they can excel in the sport from the early age.”
Ramiz also said that it was important to improve the quality of pitches at the grassroots level, as they are integral for the development of cricketers.
In a move that will further strengthen the academies structure and provide upcoming cricketers with the desired facilities to enhance their skillsets and improve their fitness levels, Ramiz said high performance centres will be established in interior Sindh and Balochistan.