The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shoaib a star too far for PCB

Islamabad: The inquiry committee set up to probe Pakistan’s World Cup debacle has blamed skipper Waqar Younis and other senior players for the country’s first round exit.

A report released Thursday by the three-member committee appointed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also came down heavily on the star treatment meted out to Shoaib Akhtar and the “commitment” of the “ageing” players in the side.

The committee, headed by retired colonel and former cricketer Naushad Ali, said: “Some of our players could not keep up with the pressure of World Cup even though they were old and experienced enough”.

The PCB was also not spared for the way it treated Shoaib. “One of the highlighted divisive factor was the special treatment accorded to Shoaib by appointing Dr Tauseef Razzaq to look after his special physical and psychological needs. This had caused resentment among the team members, especially the seniors.”

Waqar, who was replaced by Rashid Latif soon after the World Cup, drew flak for his inability to communicate with other players in the side.

“Waqar is a seasoned campaigner who is straightforward but at times stubborn, and struggled to communicate with some players resulting in frustration for himself and others,” said the report. “Waqar expected a high level of commitment from his players but unfortunately did not get the same, including from vice-captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.”

While the committee supported the decision to retain Waqar for the World Cup as he “deserved the job” and had a success rate of 62 per cent, it was not happy with the fast bowler’s performance. It also questioned his decision to give the new ball to Shoaib “that might have lessened his own effectiveness”.

Although the team selected for the event was an experienced one, it was also an ageing squad, something that kept them from delivering in big matches. “The average age of the team was 28 and-a-half.”

But the committee did not blame the selectors for fielding ageing stars, saying they did not have a choice and could not take a chance with youngsters.

The committee, which had former cricketers Aaqib Javed and Sultan Rana as members, singled out the senior players for the defeat against India in a crucial match.

Referring to the match against India, the committee said it was the only time in the tournament that Pakistan’s batting clicked but they lost due to lack of commitment. “After achieving a target of 273, our bowling and fielding did not come up to mark.

“This is evident from the fact that Wasim Akram did not get any wicket, Shoaib got one and Abdul Razzaq dropped Sachin Tendulkar at a crucial juncture. The performance can be attributed to pressure of a big match,” the report, which was submitted to PCB chief Tauqir Zia, said.

The committee also said the “exaggerated expectations” put unnecessary pressure on a mediocre team. “The media hype, the flashy send-off, the statements from top to bottom that we would win the World Cup was inappropriate and placed the team under a gratuitous handicap. The situation demanded modesty and a realistic assessment of our chances.”

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