Nottingham: Pakistan will do without the coaching skills of Geoff Boycott during its tour of England.
The former England opener, a popular figure with cricket followers, was recently drafted in by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for specialist batting coaching clinics with both up and coming and established players, prompting speculation that he might land the job of coaching the Test team in the wake of Pakistani hero Javed Miandad's acrimonious departure.
It was not to be and instead of going for a man who played in 108 Tests, it has reverted to Richard Pybus, a 36-year-old former medium-pace bowler with English minor county Suffolk, who nevertheless has a solid coaching record behind him.
Recalled just last week Pybus, who guided Pakistan to the final of the World Cup, confirmed ahead of the tourists opening match against British Universities at Trent Bridge on Friday that there would be no place in the set-up for outspoken Yorkshire great Boycott.
"You don't want too many cooks in the same soup," was Pybus' explanation for Boycott's absence. Pybus will be receiving a helping hand on the two-Test trip from former Kent coach Daryl Foster.
The Australian has already worked on helping fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar modify his suspect action and will be employed on a consultancy basis.
Pybus, who has coached Border in South African provincial cricket, admitted he was glad to be back and said it had not taken him long to readjust.
"My issues were never with the players, we have a different cricket Board now and the players are happy with them. "There were circumstances in Pakistan last time, a military coup and a change of Board but I am upbeat now, I've always had a good relationship with the players and the mood in the camp is excellent.
"What made me interested in working with Pakistan again was that I'd heard some very good things about the present Board and it has a long-term perspective, they are looking for a consistency of personnel which is usually a basis for success."
To western eyes, the return of Pybus who went on Pakistan's Australia tour in 1999 but was still axed that same year may seem improbable. But no one, it appears, in Pakistan cricket is anyone until they've been sacked at least once and sometimes twice.
After all, on this tour fast bowler Waqar Younis whose spell in the international wilderness he attributed to the intervention of fellow tourist and former new ball partner Wasim Akram captains Pakistan.
Meanwhile Wasim, who knows what it's like to be sacked from the captaincy, will have to get used to the sight of former captain Rashid Latif behind the stumps once again, even though the wicket-keeper co-operated with a corruption inquiry which named the left-arm quick and several leading Pakistan cricketers.
Set against that background Pybus' return looks positively predictable. He is upbeat, pointing out that with plenty of English county experience in his squad, the players know what to expect.
"We've just got to make sure we keep an eye on the youngsters and make sure they don't wander around in T-shirts when it's minus five degrees," he said.
Copyright AFP 2001