Wednesday, February 01, 2006
All Hail 'Uncle' Bob !
Pakistan has always had cricketing talent in surplus, but for years our national side had been bedeviled with bickering, ruinous egos and a series of hopelessly inept management teams.
Under the reign of Musharraf-appointed Gen. Tauqir Zia Pakistani cricket managed to reach its nadir. For four long years our national side was in a constant state of upheaval - captains, batsmen, bowlers, managers, coaches and selectors seemingly came and went at the drop of a hat without any offered explanation. In return, all the public ever got was a litany of empty promises and a spectacle of a national sporting humiliation at the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
Gen. Tauqir Zia, who was prone to issuing magisterial commands, created a stultifying atmosphere at the PCB. The organisation became rife with sycophancy, favouritism (even Zia’s son - the general jr.- found himself elevated to the national side) and petty egotistic rivalries. Little effort was made to build team solidarity and public spats between captains and players were commonplace. This was further exacerbated by bitter feuds between various members of the team’s administration, which were carried out in our daily newspapers.
Whatever Zia’s hidden talents may have been, as the head of the PCB he proved to be singularly incompetent.
Then there was another critical problem – our prima donnas. Due to lack of proper management control many of the leading players had developed grandiosely inflated egos. Not only were they prone to throwing selfish tantrums and indulging in factional infighting but many of them had resorted to making money through illegal match fixing.
Clearly the basic requirements to produce a match winning team - such as determination, confidence, discipline and the all-important sense of team spirit - were palpably missing.
Tauqir Zia’s replacement as PCB chairman was Shehryar Khan, well-known for being upright, honest and decent, who brought in Bob Woolmer as coach, amidst howls of indignation from leading cricket personalities such as Javed Miandad, Imran Khan, Sarfaraz Nawaz et al.
In a space of just over a year Woolmer has welded a Pakistan side imbued with an astonishingly strong bond of solidarity, team spirit and visible harmony among our players. We have always had talent in buckets but possibly for the first time we have a real TEAM.
Okay, Inzamam has also done a superb job in uniting the team under his captaincy, but I would maintain that it is only during Woolmer’s care could a straightforward individual, such as Inzamam, have been allowed to rise to his full potential. Why? In Woolmer’s absence the usual rules of sycophancy and favouritism would have applied - traits which I suspect are not Inzamam’s strongest suit and as a consequence he would never have been allowed free reign as a captain, even if he had been appointed as one.
To hear a former supreme egoist such as Shoaib Akhtar publicly putting his team first in each and every one of his interviews is a sight for sore eyes. And the noticeable displays of team camaraderie – as each team members cheers and supports the other – are all too unique for a Pakistani side.
And now having watched our team convincingly beat both the English and Indian sides all I can say is that we now have the makings of a world beating side that has the clear potential to beat Australia.
It is time to give credit where credit is due: Well done Bob!