"We should use the example of India where domestic wickets are of a high-quality" : Azhar Mahmood


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  1. #1
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    "We should use the example of India where domestic wickets are of a high-quality" : Azhar Mahmood

    In his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood writes about his views on Pakistan's recent tour of South Africa, the reasons behind the lack of express fast-bowlers in the Pakistan line-up, progress of Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi as fast-bowlers and Pakistan's chances in the 2019 World Cup.




    Despite the results of the series in South Africa, Pakistan played some good cricket

    If one looks at it from the point of view of the final result, then the tour of South Africa was a disappointing one. But we have to remember that this was a young and inexperienced team we took to South Africa. Whilst, itís natural for people to look at the poor results but what they must also realise is that despite this loss, we played good cricket and we participated in most matches with a good chance, but the fact is that the matches were decided on crucial sessions and moments. It has also been said that our batting struggled on this tour, but the South African batting struggled too, and I feel the major difference in the batting between the two teams was based upon fine performances by Quinton de Kock. Now we all know that when touring South Africa, teams will face pace and bounce, but this time around the pitches had a lot of uneven bounce and that really wasn't good enough. In addition, South Africa had guys who could bowl 145kph or more and we did not.


    A lack of 145kph plus bowlers in Pakistan

    I remember during the days when Abdul Razzaq and I were playing, we were bowling around 140kph and were regarded as medium-pacers but nowadays our quickest bowlers are bowling at 140kph. The reason for this is simply due to the quality of the pitches in Pakistan. Our pitches suit swing and seam bowling and offer medium-pacers great assistance. Our domestic cricket is full of swing bowlers who are bowling on ideal surfaces for them which is a far cry from entirely different conditions in international cricket. We need to improve the quality of pitches in Pakistan and make the pitches flatter so that our batsmen learn the art of scoring runs and our bowlers will then run in and hit the deck hard and they will then try to bowl faster. In addition, our pace bowlers will re-learn the art of reverse-swing as innings will not be over quickly.

    These days in 4-day cricket most innings are finished within 60 overs, but what we need to see are innings lasting 100 overs or more and only then in such circumstances will our batsmen learn the art of playing long innings and bowlers will learn how to bowl with the new ball and the old ball. If teams are bowling the opposition out in 50 or 60 overs, then the stamina of our pace bowlers is not being tested and then what happens is in Test matches where they have to bowl as a team for 100 overs or more then they struggle with stamina and their pace drops. It stands to reason that if a bowler only has to bowl 12 to 15 overs an innings in domestic cricket and then he is confronted with the challenge of bowling 20 or more overs in an innings in a Test match then he will obviously struggle with his workload.

    Also, when you have true wickets in Pakistan then that will also improve your quality of spinners. I give you the example of Bilal Asif who came into Test cricket having hardly bowled any long spells in domestic cricket. We should use the example of wickets in India where in the Ranji Trophy the wickets are of a high-quality and that has lead to the emergence of a good standard of cricketers including genuine out- and-out pace-bowlers.


    Hasan Ali in South Africa

    Hasan bowled well in the first Test match, but you have to remember that South African grounds are quick-scoring and the margin of error for any bowler is very small. Even the South African bowlers were going at a higher-rate than our bowlers in the Test series. I don't think Hasanís overall performances was all that bad during the series in South Africa and the only criticism you could level at him, perhaps, was that he bowled a few too many four-balls which given the quality of batsmen like Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock proved to be his undoing.

    I have since that time spoken with Hasan and he knows what he needs to work on, particularly on improving his concentration throughout every over and not just for some deliveries in each over. There is no point concentrating harder and recovering when you have already conceded a boundary off the first ball of your over. One must realise that this was his first tour of South Africa and the pitches were different to what he is used to playing on, so it was a good learning opportunity for Hasan. But one must also give credit to Hasan as throughout the tour, he continued to run in and bowl as quick he could, and on top of that he worked hard and showed improvements in his batting.


    Faheem Ashraf has the potential to become a great all-rounder

    Faheem Ashraf has received a lot of criticism in the recent past, but the fact is that whenever he has been given an opportunity, he has done alright apart from one match in South Africa. I feel that by and large whether it's with the new ball or the old ball, he has done well. Despite some poor performances, I still have faith in his batting, and to me he is one innings away from finding his feet in international cricket as a batsman. I've seen Faheem batting in the nets and the way he can hit the ball makes me believe that he has a great potential with both bat and ball and can become a great all-rounder for Pakistan in the future.


    Shaheen Shah Afridi has all the ingredients to become one of the best bowlers in the world

    I must say that I am extremely impressed with Shaheen Shah Afridiís progress so far. He already has skill and potential and is fast learning the art of fast-bowling which is extremely encouraging for us. We are, however, working on a few things with him namely on his run-up and his delivery stride so that it is more balanced. In my mind, there is no doubt that he will get better and better with time and he has all the ingredients to become one of the best bowlers in the world. He has everything and most importantly he is mentally sharp, he wants to learn, he wants to adapt his game because he is not shy to try different things with the ball. As a coach it makes things much easier when you have a bowler who is eager to learn and willing to try different things to improve himself.


    Naseem Shah and Mohammed Musa

    I was looking forward to watching Naseem Shah playing in the PSL but unfortunately injury has ruled him out of the tournament. When you are a young man you understandably want to bowl as quick as you can. But, if there is a slight problem with oneís action or if one is not as physically strong at that point in your life, then the bowler is liable to pick up injuries. This is because the bowler does not know the limits of strain that his body can take and is not sure about how to model his bowling action according to the strengths of his body. Coming to Mohammed Musa, he is a bowler who I have worked with at the Emerging Camp. He is a hard-working young cricketer with a lot of potential. I just hope he gets adequate chances at the PSL which can only benefit Pakistan cricket in the future.


    Taking a break from the PSL

    I'm not part of the Karachi Kings coaching team this time around as I have decided that I needed to spend more time with my family after a busy schedule in international cricket and also with the World Cup coming up. But I would love to be a part of the PSL next year.


    Pakistan will be one of the major challengers at this year's World Cup

    We played competitive white-ball cricket in South Africa and I feel that as a team in both 20-over and 50-over cricket we are heading in the right direction and can be one of the major challengers at this year's World Cup.

  2. #2
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    Before looking at India first look to ourselves. India has honest selectors, good coaches, pitch and structure for cricket and we have none.
    What can you expect from Inzi as selector who push his nephew for PSL, Sabih Azhar who sit Nasir Nawaz for speaking out, Younis/Yousuf for being vindictive if not selected, Misbah forcing his person liking player like Sajid Ali in PSL, Moin select his son Azam, Miandad did nothing as PCB director and selected his nephew........

    First think we need is Honesty

  3. #3
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    You don't say.

    'The reason for this is simply due to the quality of the pitches in Pakistan. Our pitches suit swing and seam bowling and offer medium-pacers great assistance. Our domestic cricket is full of swing bowlers who are bowling on ideal surfaces for them which is a far cry from entirely different conditions in international cricket. We need to improve the quality of pitches in Pakistan and make the pitches flatter so that our batsmen learn the art of scoring runs and our bowlers will then run in and hit the deck hard and they will then try to bowl faster. In addition, our pace bowlers will re-learn the art of reverse-swing as innings will not be over quickly.'

    How to contradict with yourself 101. Most of the time they say pitches don't offer much for fast bowlers in domestic, resulting in no encouragement, and now they say it's the opposite. We need Waqar back, someone who can actually improve our bowlers, not the other way around, as they fast track to international cricket.
    Last edited by MenInG; 16th February 2019 at 18:00.

  4. #4
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    What Azhar Mahmood says needs to be noted down by PCB cricket committees and task forces asap. This is the guy closest to all Pak bowlers and his insight is very important.


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    What Azhar Mahmood says needs to be noted down by PCB cricket committees and task forces asap. This is the guy closest to all Pak bowlers and his insight is very important.
    Wasim Khan has already mentioned domestic wickets as one of his areas of focus

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savak View Post
    Wasim Khan has already mentioned domestic wickets as one of his areas of focus
    Yes that's good and Azhar's input should be noted as he knows what he's talking about
    Last edited by MenInG; 17th February 2019 at 20:07.


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  7. #7
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    Good interview. He seems to know what he's going on about. Not sure why gets so much flak.

  8. #8
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    Spot on.

  9. #9
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    Yeah, Change our domestic structure, do some cosmetic changes but don't bring merit. Whoever, among our former players, shows concern about our cricket talks about the need to improve our domestic cricket, which is fine, but they always ignore the biggest issue we have which is no merit. It's the trend isn't it? Hardly ever see any of these former greats highlighting the issue of lack of merit in our cricket.
    Do whatever changes you want to make. Your 7-8 FC performers will still be the likes of Sadaf Hussain, Fawad Alam, Usman Salahuddin, Mir Hamza, Saud Shakeel, Kashif bhatti, Saad ali, Abid ali. These are the players who are not 1 or 2 season wonders all of them have performed for years now. They perform in different conditions, green pitches, flat tracks, spin tracks. But you don't select them for Tests now you won't even select them after those long awaited 'changes' so what's the point? You downplay merit issue. Seriously what's the point?
    Talking of india, these experts /former players really like to praise india's domestic cricket and structure but very conveniently ignore the merit India maintain while selecting its squads for tests and ODIs. FC and list A performers get elected respectively for each format.
    Under Indian selection committee Players like Babar,Imam, Bilal, Shan, Wahab, Amir, etc would never have got selected ahead of the the likes of Fawad, Saud, Usman, Abid , Kashif, Sadaf and Hamza. But here in Pakistan discrimination, favouritism and nepotism trounce merit convincingly.

  10. #10
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    Hope Wasim Khan can bring about the this, and few other changes which can mean that our domestic structure finally finds some stability.

    First of all we need to get the pitches sorted, rather than playing on absolute dead pitches or green mambas, we need to make more balanced wickets which keep the bowlers in the hunt for the first two days and then allow the batsmen to bat long and allow spin to come into play.

    We also need to provide much better facilities to our players. I remember reading Usman Khan Shinwari's interview upon returning from BBL few days back and he was all praise for the coaches, stadiums, facilities provided to players, etc. We need to learn from other countries which are offering their players the best possible chances to train and succeed. Despite what has happened to Australia cricket, they have still come up with a bunch of young talented players, the only problem is that they haven't been able to find the right combination, hence their below par results of late. However, when the going gets tough, their domestic structure with its facilities and coaches will continue to churn out young blood which in a few years on the international circuit can become the best in the world in their field (batting, bowling).

    We can't expect to see the next coming of Imran or Waqar or Wasim or Miandad or whatever with a few nets and a bowling machine. For a long time Pakistan cricket has been relying on a few individual players and their individual brilliance to deliver the goods for us. Back in the '70s, '80s, and even '90s this worked because let's face it those players were of another calibre and had the ability to become world-beaters. For the past decade and a half our cricket hasn't been all that good due to us relying on certain players. When we did get to the top of the ICC Test Rankings in the latter half of 2016 it was off the back of a few good series wins in UAE in which Misbah, Younis, and our spinners played well. Then, Misbah, Younis and Yasir basically carried us to the win in England. Yes there were other performances along the way but tell me we could have won the Test at Lord's without Yasir's 10-fer or the 4th match without Younis' mammoth double ton.

    For a while during 2017 with all the young talent and the CT win I finally thought that we had gotten over our woes of the past 10-15 years, but with the position our Test side has been in for the past few months I think I might be wrong. Yes I understand it is a young team but other than Babar there hasn't been any other notable performances with the bat in SA. In the bowling department there has been glimpses of hope and I greatly admire the young Afridi, but I get a feeling our bowling and for that matter our Test match attitude has basically become Yasir or bust. As Azhar mentioned, we need quicker bowlers but our domestic structure is not good for the nurturing of quick bowlers due to lack of good pitches, good competition (poor batsmenship quality), lack of physios which can help with rehab and injury prevention, etc. There is/was a lot of young talent in our FC structure which has grown old waiting for a chance and the now old crop of talented, wasted players will probably be replaced by another group of young, talented players who will waste away their prime years waiting for a chance in the national team only to see lesser talented and less performing players get selected due to our biased selectors.

    If things continue the way they are, then PSL will become a bit like our FC structure, rather than deserving players breaking through and being given few chances, we will begin to see biased selectors taking over and bringing in their boys who will give mediocre at best performances. Then, the same guys will come into our LOI sides because we will have no other option and we will witness a decline in the quality of our cricket.

    We should stop reminiscing about the good old days when guys like Imran, Wasim, Waqar used to rule the world, and blaming the current players for not being as good them. Our current players can't be as good as them because they are not given the chance. Yes some of them throw away their chances such as Akmal or Shehzad but these are just outliers. They may not seem like outliers but that is because many others who had potential never came in front of the public eye. PCB and anyone who cares about Pakistan cricket should take a cold, hard look in the mirror and realise that there are many things which need to be done in order for us to improve our quality of cricket and to rise up to the standard we used to play at. Otherwise we can sit tight and wait for the start of the next loop in this downward spiral.

    Thank you for reading.

  11. #11
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    So what he has done to improve the quality of fast bowlers during his tenure? Should also highlight it as well as I have often found him complaining about domestic cricket structure.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdul Moiz View Post
    So what he has done to improve the quality of fast bowlers during his tenure? Should also highlight it as well as I have often found him complaining about domestic cricket structure.
    His job is to train those who make it to the national squad. Not nurture the talent lying around in the domestic structure. So he only gets to deal with the likes of Amir and Shaheen.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastBowlingAllrounder View Post
    His job is to train those who make it to the national squad. Not nurture the talent lying around in the domestic structure. So he only gets to deal with the likes of Amir and Shaheen.
    Then he should focus on doing his job instead of trying to paper over his own failures by complaining about domestic cricket. And If he's genuinely concerned about our cricket and want to talk about FC' issues then he should be honest and also mention the lack of merit in selection. This selective criticsm has to stop in our cricket. These former players and other PCB puppets only say what suits them . No one dares to highlight the biggest problem

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farhan93 View Post
    Then he should focus on doing his job instead of trying to paper over his own failures by complaining about domestic cricket. And If he's genuinely concerned about our cricket and want to talk about FC' issues then he should be honest and also mention the lack of merit in selection. This selective criticsm has to stop in our cricket. These former players and other PCB puppets only say what suits them . No one dares to highlight the biggest problem
    Yes one thing he doesn't cover is bad selection and I agree with you on that. However when it comes to papering over his own failures, he isn't exactly covering up any of his own failures, rather just highlight and discuss the ever-prominent issues with Pakistani FC cricket.

  15. #15
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    So we start making phattas for the likes of Manzoor & chacha Ifti to start scoring triple tons for fun..just like most Indian cricketers lol


    Waiting for the day when there will be no p....i player in a green shirt

  16. #16
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    India has group A B C and plate for quarter final 5 teams for A and B 2 from C and 1 from plate are selected. A and B are elite groups

  17. #17
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    I remember during the days when Abdul Razzaq and I were playing, we were bowling around 140kph and were regarded as medium-pacers but nowadays our quickest bowlers are bowling at 140kph.
    Sad but true.

    The harsh reality at the moment I'm afraid.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Sad but true.

    The harsh reality at the moment I'm afraid.
    I am sure Azhar would be really happy with the performances of Musa, Ilyas and Hasnain in the PSL.


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