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  1. #1
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    "Asif can still run rings around any batsman with the new ball in his hand" : Mohammad Haroon

    A former professional cricketer, Mohammad Haroon played First-class cricket in Pakistan before moving to England where he played the game at league level for over fifteen years. He was also the first Asian to gain a level 4 ECB coaching qualification and is now the Director of Cricket for Norway as well as Head Coach for the Norwegian men's and women's teams.

    In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Haroon spoke about his role in the development of cricket in Norway, his hopes for the future of the game in the country, his association with Mohammad Asif and his belief that the Pakistan bowler is willing and extremely capable to resume his career for Pakistan.





    PakPassion.net : What is your role in Norway Cricket?

    Mohammad Haroon : Currently, I hold the position of Director of Cricket for Norway. The overall development of cricket in the country comes under my remit. So, any structural changes as well as steps needed to improve cricket in the country are all being undertaken on my recommendations. In addition, I am the Head Coach for the men’s and women’s teams as well all the youth teams in Norway. I also run coaching courses to train all those interested in coaching as I am qualified to do so due to being an ICC tutor. This way, I am preparing a team of good coaches for Norway. My other aim is to create a structure for cricket in Norway which is sustainable and should not rely on one or two individuals to run it.


    PakPassion.net : How do you rate the standard of the Norway Cricket team?

    Mohammad Haroon : If you take away the top three European cricket sides, I would rate Norway amongst the top eight. We play in Division 1 of the ICC’s European Championship and as you may know, a lot of cricket is played in Europe and therefore competition is very tough. So, next year in June we are playing a tournament in this division which will include teams from Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and France and it is my prediction that we will be able to win this tournament and qualify for the World Cricket League.


    PakPassion.net : Is the standard of domestic cricket in Norway good enough to supply quality cricketers for the national team?

    Mohammad Haroon : Until this year, our domestic cricket was based on the forty-over format which was played under batsman friendly conditions. The reason for that is we have matted pitches with a hard surface below that. Also, bowlers cannot wear spikes as the grounds are not suitable for that type of footwear. As a result, fast-bowlers are wary of slipping and therefore conditions are not bowler-friendly. So, this year I am bringing in some structural changes in which I am introducing the idea of bonus points for teams who dismiss opponents cheaply and in our top domestic division, I am making the games go up to forty-five overs and the idea is to increase that to the fully fifty-over format in the coming few years.

    I do not think that the fitness levels in our top domestic cricketers is such that they can absorb an increase in the number of total overs in a match to fifty this year so we will need to give that some time. One more innovation which I have put in place is that the limit on overs which can be bowled has been increased to allow good bowlers to get a better chance of taking more wickets in a game and also present a stiff challenge to the batsmen.


    PakPassion.net : Is the fact that cricket in Norway is just limited to expats a matter of concern for you?

    Mohammad Haroon : While it is true that most players in the current Norway national team were born in foreign lands, it is also an encouraging fact that they have learnt their cricket in Norway. However, the previous group of players were also born outside Norway but had played in their countries of birth. In the current group of players, we have players of Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan and Australian origins but we are lacking ethnic Norwegians which is something we are working on. The move to promote cricket at a grassroots level is underway and we are introducing cricket at school level. All this will take some time to develop and what is heartening is that two schools have promoted cricket to a subject level in their curriculum and about six schools have taken the game on as part of their sports culture. I am, therefore, very hopeful that in the next few years we will have a good representation of local Norwegians in the national team.


    PakPassion.net : How far can the Norway team go in the future in terms of challenging the top teams of the world? Do you have a time-frame in mind for this?

    Mohammad Haroon : The new crop of youngsters that are coming up the ranks in Norwegian cricket, especially around eight who are now in the Under-19 squad, can in my view easily challenge the top teams of the world in the next eight or nine years. In this regard I have sent a few youngsters, eighteen and nineteen years of age, from Norway to England to play league cricket and they have excelled there. What I also plan is to send some youngsters to Australia, Pakistan and India to further develop their skills. So, all that is needed is for an environment for young talent to flourish in Norway and the results will be positive in the future.


    PakPassion.net : How is cricket in Norway financed to allow the development of cricket there?

    Mohammad Haroon : It is true that we get some financial help from the ICC but the Norway Cricket Board has the status of a federation in the country. What this means is that cricket is recognised as a proper sport and there is decent government funding for the game in the country.


    PakPassion.net : Tell us about your role as a mentor for Mohammad Asif.

    Mohammad Haroon : I was captain of the Sheikhupura Gymkhana Club for about eight years. Incidentally, this is the same club which has featured some big names like Aaqib Javed and Rana Naved as its main players before Asif came on to the scene and became a world-class bowler later. It was during my captaincy that Mohammad Asif began to play cricket at a serious level and to this day I recall the first time Asif came over to play cricket with us. I was not only Asif’s captain but also his coach and mentor who encouraged him to bowl. It's amazing to see how well Asif did in his career considering that he had never played cricket with a hard ball before he joined us at the club and started bowling.


    PakPassion.net : Did Mohammad Asif impress you from the onset?

    Mohammad Haroon : I am very confident about my ability to identify talent and I can tell you that I had no doubt in my mind that Asif would be one of Pakistan’s top bowling stars one day. Let me also mention that when Rana Naved first came to my Sheikhupura Gymkhana Club team, he was a batsman but under my captaincy he started to develop into an accomplished bowler as well. This is because, due to Aaqib Javed’s success from the same club, a culture of good fast-bowling had developed in our team. Aaqib was a role model for all our players and due to his influence, the club did produce good bowlers like Asif. So, in my mind, there was no doubt about Asif’s future in the Pakistan team.


    PakPassion.net : Does Asif still have the ability and the will to play for Pakistan?

    Mohammad Haroon : I know that he has the will to return to the Pakistan team as he has spoken to me on that subject several times in the recent past. He has been bowling well as we saw in the final in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Let me say that in my mind, there is no other better new ball bowler than Asif in today’s cricket. And I am not saying that because Asif played for me in my club and I consider him like my brother. James Anderson and a few others are other good examples of excellent new ball bowlers but in my view, Asif can run rings around any batsman with the new ball in his hand. If you look at the Pakistan Test team’s recent successes, they have mainly been on turning tracks. The fact is that we are not getting wickets with the new ball. I was recently watching Pakistan’s bowling effort in New Zealand and on a beautiful bowling track we did not get too much success. I know that if Mohammad Asif would have been playing, Pakistan would have done well.

    The quality which Asif’s bowling has is not to be found in other bowlers. He can bowl the new ball with so much control and swing it in an incredible manner. It does not matter if the batsman is a right-hander or a left-hander, Asif can trouble any type of batsman and this is a phenomenal talent to have. Asif is needed by Pakistan as he is a master with the new ball. I am convinced that he has a lot of international cricket left in him. If he can make a return in international cricket, he will be able to maintain his place in the team for a long time. This is because he is a hard-worker and driven by the type of competitive atmosphere there is in an international team, I believe Asif can serve Pakistan for a good four or five years. In terms of fitness, he has a very economical action and he doesn’t put too much effort in his run-up, nor does he carry too much wait. His natural physique is such that he does not seem to gain too much extra weight.

    If he is able to impress the selectors then he will be back in the team and once again, batsmen the world-over will start fearing him and he will make them dance again with the new-ball.


    PakPassion.net : How important is the role of a coach for an international player?

    Mohammad Haroon : Coaching is not simply about skills enhancement, it is equally important to coach a person as well. The general perception that we find amongst cricket followers is that a coach can come in and improve a players’ batting or bowling in the blink of an eye. This is not realistic and does not happen. The best coach is one that is able to help a player remove his fears and doubts and brings self-belief in a player and also provides an environment in which a player can perform to his best capabilities.

    A good coach works on helping a player discover his strengths and weaknesses. Let me also share this statistic about coaching which is from a survey in 2008 in English County Cricket. The question which was asked of English County professionals was that what influences your performance more; is it the coach or the captain? 97% of the players confirmed that their performance is influenced by the coach. For top level players, the coaching needs to be done at a one-to-one level where apart from skills enhancement, using knowledge of the player’s personality the coach can determine the best way to improve his performance. What that translates to in real life is that a player is then able to deliver as close to his abilities on the field. The coach's role comes in to help the player deliver as close to possible to his potential on the field. The coach can also be of great help to player in increasing the potential of a player.
    Last edited by Abdullah719; 20th December 2016 at 10:27.


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  2. #2
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    Yes we all know that.

    But can he do that against international level batsmen rather than domestic bullies?

    Can he last a full test match after that initial spell without looking ordinary?

    Can he keep himself outside of news because of his repeat shenanigans with law?

    If the answer to all these questions is a maybe, then he shouldn't be called up.


    And I get so high.. And I just can't feel it....

  3. #3
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    Theory is simple. Give him a chance and he will show you. But the bigger problem is the intent - is there a belief in PCB that Asif should be allowed to play?

    Also Many thanks to Haroon for his time and fascinating stuff about cricket in Norway. Well impressed by the government help Cricket is getting in Norway


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Bassim View Post
    Yes we all know that.

    But can he do that against international level batsmen rather than domestic bullies?

    Can he last a full test match after that initial spell without looking ordinary?

    Can he keep himself outside of news because of his repeat shenanigans with law?

    If the answer to all these questions is a maybe, then he shouldn't be called up.
    I think those are the wrong questions.

    The one and only question is this:

    Mickey Arthur has this week outlined in great detail why Sohail Khan and Imran Khan are not good enough to be selected. Too little stamina and too little pace. In what way is Mohammad Asif worse?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    I think those are the wrong questions.

    The one and only question is this:

    Mickey Arthur has this week outlined in great detail why Sohail Khan and Imran Khan are not good enough to be selected. Too little stamina and too little pace. In what way is Mohammad Asif worse?

    Just as little stamina and similar if not worse pace.


    And I get so high.. And I just can't feel it....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Bassim View Post
    Just as little stamina and similar if not worse pace.
    He took a wicket in his 19th over of the first day of the QEA Final.

    Sohail Khan would have been in a wheelchair by then, while if Imran Khan was bowling Habib Bank would have been losing their third wicket, not their tenth!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    He took a wicket in his 19th over of the first day of the QEA Final.

    Sohail Khan would have been in a wheelchair by then, while if Imran Khan was bowling Habib Bank would have been losing their third wicket, not their tenth!
    And went missing in the 2nd innings.

    I don't know how you can assume that Asif can last an entire test match more comfortably than Sohail.

    But yes someone deserves a chance ahead of Sohail and Imran Khan.

    I just don't think it should be Asif.


    And I get so high.. And I just can't feel it....

  8. #8
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    "Asif can still run rings around any batsman with the new ball in his hand" : Mohammad Haroon

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Bassim View Post
    And went missing in the 2nd innings.

    I don't know how you can assume that Asif can last an entire test match more comfortably than Sohail.

    But yes someone deserves a chance ahead of Sohail and Imran Khan.

    I just don't think it should be Asif.
    Nobody took any wickets in the second innings on either side. The pitch was so dead that 4 wickets fell in nearly 300 overs.

  9. #9
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    I feel he deserves to come in place of Imran Khan instead of Sohail Khan who's been playing Test cricket really well. He's going to complete our bowling attack in Tests with his comeback.

  10. #10
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    Wishful thinking. Time to look for some younger players with future potential. Someone like Hasan Ali. Can't understand this obsession with Asif. In fact I think if we are going to forgive and forget maybe Salman Butt has a better case.

  11. #11
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    I don't think so, as he was exposed in the QeA Trophy Final, after the pitch turned flat, couldn't even do anything with the new ball. Imran Khan is better, should be persisted with instead, or should invest in Hasan Ali as well.

  12. #12
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    Stats in domestic cricket played on variety of pitches has FAR more credibility than stats of UAE phattas

  13. #13
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    If Pakistan lose this series it will be mainly because of lack of a capable new ball bowler.

  14. #14
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    Thank You PakPassion.

    I agree with Mohammad Haroon sahib.

    Spot On Man.


    Mujhay hai Hukm e Azaa-n

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    Nobody took any wickets in the second innings on either side. The pitch was so dead that 4 wickets fell in nearly 300 overs.
    but he is somebody,,he is considerd special....but to me his fitness looks worse than sohail.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DRsohail View Post
    but he is somebody,,he is considerd special....but to me his fitness looks worse than sohail.
    Asif was suffering from food posioning you can't expect him to play at his best under that condition. Sohail Khan can't even last one test match so no comparison.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedster777 View Post
    If Pakistan lose this series it will be mainly because of lack of a capable new ball bowler.
    What happen in the previous series with Australia in Australia with bowlers like shoaib, asif, wasim, waqar... Where they capable new ball bowlers?

  18. #18
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    Greater chance of Asif Iqbal coming back then Muhammad Asif.


    PP's own self proclaimed sharpshooter and defender of Islam and Pakistan.

  19. #19
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    I think for me the major concern with Asif is can he get through his career without being reprimanded for disciplinary issues? He has prob the worst record possible whether it's doping, fighting with team mates or spot fixing. It worries me with that kind of record can he be trusted.

    As far as his skill set is concerned we all know he is a great new ball bowler. If PCB really wants him to come back they should facilitate him and get him a good trainer with training which can get him to the physical shape and stamina required quickly. It is not an impossible task if Asif is willing to put in the hard work.he can be in shape for international cricket within a month if taken care properly.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by proud_pakistani View Post
    I think for me the major concern with Asif is can he get through his career without being reprimanded for disciplinary issues? He has prob the worst record possible whether it's doping, fighting with team mates or spot fixing. It worries me with that kind of record can he be trusted.

    As far as his skill set is concerned we all know he is a great new ball bowler. If PCB really wants him to come back they should facilitate him and get him a good trainer with training which can get him to the physical shape and stamina required quickly. It is not an impossible task if Asif is willing to put in the hard work.he can be in shape for international cricket within a month if taken care properly.
    Who cares about his behaviour?

    He has eight more months while the ICC is responsible for that. This is the moment to pick him!

  21. #21
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    Can't see it happening. A lot of dreamers here. Time to move on.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    Who cares about his behaviour?

    He has eight more months while the ICC is responsible for that. This is the moment to pick him!
    Its not just behaviour. Its getting into ridiculous needless scandals again and again. It reflects badly on Pakistan and also harms team morale.


    "Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians."-Iqbal

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Bassim View Post
    Yes we all know that.

    But can he do that against international level batsmen rather than domestic bullies?

    Can he last a full test match after that initial spell without looking ordinary?

    Can he keep himself outside of news because of his repeat shenanigans with law?

    If the answer to all these questions is a maybe, then he shouldn't be called up.
    You are kidding me? Smith is going to be a walking wicket for Asif due to former's poor footwork!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Bassim View Post
    Just as little stamina and similar if not worse pace.
    Pace you say?? Asif may be around 78-79 mph right now?

    Chaminda vaas at his peak was around 78-79mph and took over 300 wickets
    Shaun pollock in his prime was 78-79 mph and took over 400 wickets
    Wasim akram in his last 4-5 years hardly ever got past 80mph yet took over 100 test wickets.

    New ball bowling is about swing and seam while maintaining absolute control over line and length. Not having pace can be a virtue as edges don't fly to the boundary. Such a bowler deserves a call up and put in the selection mix especially if the coach doesn't have faith in the current lot selected.

    Oh and as for stamina, Shohaib in his prime had zero stamina could only manage about 10 overs per innings. And before you mention that he could blast players out with 95 mph balls, these would be few and far between. His average speed after the first few overs would drop down to around 88-89. Still great but not earth shattering.

  25. #25
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    Until and unless we have a bowling attack that can bowl out Aussies under 250, we cannot think about winning. Our current bowling squad find it hard to take top order wickets. Asif is a must being the best new ball bowler in Pak.

  26. #26
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    Asif is no doubt on of the finest as the knows how to swing the ball while maintaining pace .....! But still i dn't think he is good for Paksitan as age matter's a lot. It is far better to allow him to train young guns and provide the oppotunity to youngsters......! Prepare them for the next world cup

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by fawadahmed087 View Post
    Asif is no doubt on of the finest as the knows how to swing the ball while maintaining pace .....! But still i dn't think he is good for Paksitan as age matter's a lot. It is far better to allow him to train young guns and provide the oppotunity to youngsters......! Prepare them for the next world cup
    With respect, I think your priorities are all wrong.

    A Test tour of Australia is far more important than a World Cup, especially given that the 50 over format is viewed as dead and buried outside Asia.

    Plus Pakistan hasn't got the explosive Flat Track Bully batting to compete in modern ODI cricket.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    With respect, I think your priorities are all wrong.

    A Test tour of Australia is far more important than a World Cup, especially given that the 50 over format is viewed as dead and buried outside Asia.

    Plus Pakistan hasn't got the explosive Flat Track Bully batting to compete in modern ODI cricket.
    Maybe for England, but I have to disagree; in the subcontinent the World Cup is the pinnacle and I'd like to think that is the general feeling across the globe barring those who play the Ashes and even they have lost their aura given how often the series has been played in recent times

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaz619 View Post
    Maybe for England, but I have to disagree; in the subcontinent the World Cup is the pinnacle and I'd like to think that is the general feeling across the globe barring those who play the Ashes and even they have lost their aura given how often the series has been played in recent times
    Here in Australia the ratings and attendances for ODIs have collapsed totally.

    T20 has killed it.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    Here in Australia the ratings and attendances for ODIs have collapsed totally.

    T20 has killed it.
    The absolute pinnacle of our sport is winning the World Cup, there is no doubt about that. Only the enthusiasts will try their best to push this idea that Tests are more popular but I can assure you it is not the case. Deep down if it came to it England would much rather win an ODI World Cup then the ashes

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaz619 View Post
    The absolute pinnacle of our sport is winning the World Cup, there is no doubt about that. Only the enthusiasts will try their best to push this idea that Tests are more popular but I can assure you it is not the case. Deep down if it came to it England would much rather win an ODI World Cup then the ashes
    Are you sure about that last sentence?

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    Are you sure about that last sentence?
    I have conducted a national survey, out of the 2 million people whom responded to my questionnaire; 25% preferred the ashes over the world cup, 15% didn't know what the ashes were and 60% agreed that they'd prefer the World Cup over the ashes. You're all about stats, don't believe me trust these numbers!

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    MOHAMMAD ABBAS WITH THE LAST TWO YEARS PERFORMANCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE CURRENT SQUAD

    1 Mohammad Abbas 27 years Khan Research Laboratories 10 2191 82 1024 61 7-68 16.79 3 6 35.92 2.80
    IN THE 2015-2016 SEASON

    1 Mohammad Abbas 27 years Khan Research Laboratories 10 2127 97 905 71 8-46 12.75 1 8 29.96 2.55
    IN THE 2016-2017 SEASON

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaz619 View Post
    I have conducted a national survey, out of the 2 million people whom responded to my questionnaire; 25% preferred the ashes over the world cup, 15% didn't know what the ashes were and 60% agreed that they'd prefer the World Cup over the ashes. You're all about stats, don't believe me trust these numbers!
    I NEVER trust stats.

    They keep telling me that Birmingham is the second city, not Manchester!

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by pakteam#1 View Post
    MOHAMMAD ABBAS WITH THE LAST TWO YEARS PERFORMANCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE CURRENT SQUAD

    1 Mohammad Abbas 27 years Khan Research Laboratories 10 2191 82 1024 61 7-68 16.79 3 6 35.92 2.80
    IN THE 2015-2016 SEASON

    1 Mohammad Abbas 27 years Khan Research Laboratories 10 2127 97 905 71 8-46 12.75 1 8 29.96 2.55
    IN THE 2016-2017 SEASON
    The problem is this.

    Mohammad Abbas takes a lot of wickets. But three of the four world class spells in QEA this season were bowled by Mohammad Asif.

    Which raises the worry that Abbas is a bit like Shahid Nazir. Skilled enough to dismiss mediocre batsmen, but not accurate enough or skilled enough to dismiss the best.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    I NEVER trust stats.

    They keep telling me that Birmingham is the second city, not Manchester!
    you got me, am down for the count

    But I certainly hope Inzi trusts the stats of Mohammad Asif before it's too late

  37. #37
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    Really want Asif back in the team, it's gonna complete our attack meaning we can dislodge batting lineups so easily.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExplicitAI View Post
    Really want Asif back in the team, it's gonna complete our attack meaning we can dislodge batting lineups so easily.
    Don't worry man, Asif, Butt, Kamran Akmal, etc.. are coming back next series. Whole team is about to get shuffled after yesterday's defeat. Just wait.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idrees1990 View Post
    Don't worry man, Asif, Butt, Kamran Akmal, etc.. are coming back next series. Whole team is about to get shuffled after yesterday's defeat. Just wait.
    I hope not.

    You can't just replace one Dad's Army with another.

    Mickey Arthur should be allowed to do what he wrote in his book: take four players (Azhar, Shafiq, Yasir and Sarfraz) as the four oldest in the team and surround them with much younger players.

    I wanted Asif and Butt back for Australia. But that has gone now.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junaids View Post
    I hope not.

    You can't just replace one Dad's Army with another.

    Mickey Arthur should be allowed to do what he wrote in his book: take four players (Azhar, Shafiq, Yasir and Sarfraz) as the four oldest in the team and surround them with much younger players.

    I wanted Asif and Butt back for Australia. But that has gone now.
    His adjustments have failed. No need to waste time experimenting and losing more matches. We seriously need huge batting improvement and specialist bowler for the new ball. These players can provide this.

  41. #41
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    Mohammad Asif's genius explained by Mohammad Haroon


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  42. #42
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    The bowling performance in Aus has left a door open for Asif in Tests.


    The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there — Vince Lombardi

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