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By Shayan Siddiqui (1st June, 2016)
 
Pakistan cricket has been in the limelight in recent weeks as a highly anticipated tour of England approaches. From a new coach and chief selector, to a boot camp with the army and players dropped for indiscipline, there has hardly been a quiet day to allow fans to catch their breath. To discuss this eventful period, PakPassion.net spoke with Mohsin Khan, Pakistan’s former Head Coach, and he shared his views on a range of subjects including the axing of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, Inzamam-ul-Haq’s appointment and Pakistan’s chances in England.
 
Mohsin Khan began by congratulating the newly appointed Chief Selector on his new role stating that "I wish Inzamam and his selection panel all the very best because I know Inzamam has played for Pakistan with dignity and honour and has done wonders for Pakistan cricket. However honesty and sincerity is required from all departments, not just one. When I was Chief Selector I did my work with honesty and the same when I was Head Coach. I’m sure that Inzamam will do a very good job but the other departments also have to work with sincerity and honesty.”
 
“When I used to pick the squad I would complain to the Chairman that this team can play a lot better but the game plan, strategy and playing eleven is incorrect. Shortly after when I became coach, the results were so good and the Chairman said to me that I was absolutely right. Under me, the same boys delivered much better results. So we have to have the right batting order and playing eleven, the right strategy and game plan, which is why I’m saying that all the departments have to work together. It’s not just the selection committee, but the captain and coaching department must also work with honesty and integrity.”
 
One of Inzamam’s first decisions involved removing Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad from the Pakistan squads due to disciplinary reasons. Responses to the decision have been mixed and Mohsin Khan was also quick to highlight the weaknesses of the team management who allowed such indiscipline to occur, “I agree 100% with all those involved in making the decision to exclude Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad. We should never compromise on discipline as it’s a matter of the prestige of our nation. However the management should also be questioned as to why these two had such discipline problems under their watch. Discipline has been mentioned several times so why was it not dealt with before? I was coach of the team for three consecutive important series and can honestly say there was not a single disciplinary problem, on or off the field. So management need to be taken to task to explain why players were so indisciplined? The fact is that you as management are setting a bad example of discipline when you are bringing tainted players like Mohammad Amir back, or when you still have someone with a questionable background in charge.”
 
Mohsin also felt that there is an apparent contradiction between the treatment of the pair and Mohammad Amir, who recently returned to the side after a five year sport fixing ban, stating “Where is the discipline now that you are bringing Amir back? Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif insulted the dignity of Pakistan. People say they have served their sentence for five years which is fine but can that repair the dignity and honour of Pakistan? They should not be allowed to wear the Pakistan cap again. The can play first-class cricket in Pakistan or league cricket anywhere in the world to earn their livelihood but they should not represent Pakistan again.”
 
Many have pointed out that the PCB itself has not really punished the spot-fixing trio, and have simply gone along with what has been forced upon them by the ICC, something which Mohsin Khan fully agrees with, “They’ve damaged the dignity of Pakistan so much and have they really even been punished? It’s the ICC and the English legal system that has punished them, what has the PCB done? It’s Pakistanis all over the world and the Pakistan Cricket Board that were damaged by their actions. We must set the right example as South Africa did when they banned Hansie Cronje, their captain and star player, for life. India have banned players for life and these countries have shown that nobody is allowed to hurt the country’s honour. So, compared to the spot-fixing trio, Shehzad and Akmal have made minor indiscretions so why are they being punished more than someone who badly hurt the honour and dignity of the nation? What kind of impression are you giving to the youngsters of Pakistan? What is clear is that the PCB has been forced into this corner by appointing tainted coaches and as a result they have to bring tainted players back. And then players like Shehzad and Umar have no real examples to follow and the indiscipline continues.” 
 
Looking ahead to the tour of England, where Sri Lanka’s batsmen are currently having a torturous time against Stuart Broad and James Anderson, Mohsin Khan stressed that Pakistani batsmen have prospered in these conditions before and can do so again. “Every batting lineup in the world struggles in England because the ball swings but you have to manage that. The likes of Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamam and Aamir Sohail and I all performed tremendously in England; these were all Pakistani batsmen so it can be done. It’s important for the coach and the captain to guide the players to ensure all efforts are made to succeed in England. I myself have scored a double hundred at Lord’s so it is possible to perform in English conditions for Pakistani batsmen. This is where you have to show guts because performing in England and performing in Australia is very difficult but Pakistani batsmen have performed there in the past. Every day a star is born so this is the feeling that should be given to the players, that they can become stars here. These are the incentives which should be given. Any batsman can perform in easy conditions but the classy ones are those that perform in difficult places.”
 
Pakistan will rely heavily on Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan to put runs on the board in England, and whilst Mohsin Khan praised the fitness of the duo, he expressed concerns about the failure to prepare suitable replacements for them when they retire, stating, “Misbah and Younis are very fit cricketers and there aren’t any replacements for them at the moment. I had planned to get three or four batsmen ready so there wouldn’t be a huge gap in the team when Misbah and Younis retired. But the current management haven’t introduced any new batsmen who fit that role; there has been no planning or preparation. When the chairman of the board isn’t even settled it becomes difficult to solve any problems further down the chain. I’m a firm believer that you have to put things right at the top and then other things fall into place.”
 
Mohsin Khan's role in the three match white-wash of England in the Test series against England is well known to Pakistan fans and they will hope that with new management in place, all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place quickly in the next few weeks so that the team can give England a stern contest and recreate the glorious performances of 2012 and other achievements of the past in the opposition’s own backyard.
 
The former Pakistan opener whose personal performances against England remain a matter of great pride for his fellow countrymen concluded with the following message for Pakistan in their upcoming tour "Although I have some deep reservations around the state of Pakistan cricket and some of the processes in place, as a patriotic Pakistani I would like to put all those issues to the side and would like to convey best wishes to the Pakistan team and wish them the best of luck as they embark on the series against England."