The Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka has reaffirmed is Inzamam-ul-Haqâ€™s standing in the team as an undisputed leader with every player clearly backing him to the hilt out of respect because of his positive attitude and behaviour and performances as the senior most player in the side.
After 21 days in Sri Lanka it has become very obvious that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) doesnâ€™t need to worry about the captaincy as long as Inzamam remains fit to play because while he may tactically not be a very enterprising leader, he is perhaps the only captain in Pakistan after Imran Khan and few others who has commanded such absolute authority, loyalty and respect of his players.
It was a pleasing sight to see the way young pacer Mohammad Asif behaved in front of his captain soon after he was named man of the match and series for his outstanding bowling in the second Test at Kandy.
The 23-year-old, who is quite a chirpy but also a straightforward character, was called by Inzamam to be with him while talking to the Pakistani reporters and it was an experience to see Asif stand behind his captain hands folded and in utter respect only speaking when asked to speak by Inzamam.
One describes this episode here to only highlight the manner in which Inzamam is respected by his players because Asif, without any doubt, was the stand-out performer on the tour with his bowling and success goes easily to the head and also since throughout the tour one saw him as being quite a mischievous person who was clearly enjoying himself in Sri Lanka. But in front of the captain, he was respect personified.
One also spoke to Waqar Younis, the bowling coach, about Inzamamâ€™s position in the team, the other officials, manager Zaheer Abbas and coach Bob Woolmer, and some of the younger players and the verdict was clearly that Inzamam has endeared himself to the players with his ability to remain calm and composed all the time, not put undue pressure on them and try to lead by example and quiet authority.
“Inzamam clearly needs to learn more tactically as a captain but he has succeeded in creating a friendly and unified atmosphere in the team and this is the reason why the team now has learnt to fight back in tight positions and bounce back from bad performances,” Waqar said. “This is the most focused set of players Iâ€™ve seen for a while,” Zaheer added.
Faisal Iqbal and Imran Farhat were impressed with their skipper because he spent time with them in the nets and otherwise trying to make them feel comfortable and making them believe they could be top players for Pakistan.
“He exudes authority with firmness and without resorting to bullying anyone or shouting if the team is not doing well, something that used to happen a lot in the past in the team,” another player said.
One example of this quiet authority was seen when one player, whom one would not like to name here for obvious reasons but who is one of the more savy characters in the team, virtually hid himself behind a pillar in the hotel lobby when he spotted his captain returning from outside with his family.
The reason for this sudden retreat was that the player, until then, had been trying to chat up an attractive female fan seated in the lobby.
“Inzamam knows what each player is like but even if he had spotted this player he would not have said anything but still from the reaction of the player one can judge the respect the skipper commands,” another player stated.
One example of how Inzamam deals with his boys was disclosed by the two uncapped spinners â€” Tahir Khan and Abdul Rahman, who had to return home after the one-dayers.
“He called us to his room and spoke at length about our cricket and futures and assured us we had it in us to play for Pakistan and that we should not be disheartened by having to go back after the one-dayers. His pep-talk was very important for us and showed he cares,” Tahir said.
Pakistan cricket, for long, has been famous for playing merry-go-around with its captains and team officials changing them at the drop of the hat for some reason or the other.
But in this regard at least the PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan deserves credit for showing faith in Inzamam and ensuring continuity in the team despite some poor results like the one-day series loss to India at home when even this writer was critical of Inzamamâ€™s performances as captain.
That faith is paying off because unless Inzamam faces any fitness problems he is set to lead the team till the next World Cup and perhaps even beyond it because he is one captain who has clearly managed to get the best out of his young team, something not many captains have been able to do even with more experienced outfits because of their poor man-management skills.
Pakistan has never been short of quality players but it has always suffered in terms of good captainship and management with a few notable exceptions.
But whenever the team has found a good captain it has fired on all cylinders. Thankfully, the present scenario is like that which augurs well for the coming series leading up to next yearâ€™s World Cup.
The one negative aspect of Inzamamâ€™s character is that perhaps he takes the endless barrage of criticism aimed at his or his team too seriously, which only adds pressure on him.
He has been around on the international cricket scene long enough now to realise that there will always be critics and former players waiting to pull him down and his team at the slightest pretext but also those who really care and appreciate a vintage show from the captain and team.
Source: The NewsMore on:Inzamam, Mohammad Asif, Pakistan, Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2006, PCB, World Cup
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, April 10th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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