Legendary Imran to coach Pak~~s young blood
Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2003, 23:13 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Karachi: Pakistan legend Imran Khan said on Wednesday he would coach young blood to lift national cricket and urged the country to follow Australia's shining example. "After Pakistan's disappointing performance in the World Cup, a lot of my friends asked me to help Pakistan cricket and despite my commitments in politics I have agreed to help with coaching," Khan said speaking at a launch of regional cricket clinics. "I want to pay back what this country has given me," said Khan, a Pakistani MP who leads the Movement for Justice party. Pakistan, one of the pre-tournament favourites, failed to go beyond the first round in the World Cup in southern Africa in February-March this year, which was won by Australia. In a massive overhaul, Pakistan dumped eight senior players - including captain Waqar Younis, his long-time pace partner, Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul- Haq. "Pakistan has a lot of talent but we need to harness that talent like they do in Australia, which has enabled them to rule the cricket world," said Khan, whose 362 wickets in 88 Tests and 182 in 175 One-dayers made him a leading fast bowler in the 1970s and 1980s. "A player in Australia is ready for international cricket once he comes out of their academies and first class competitions, which is not there in our part of the world," said the all-rounder who led Pakistan to their only World Cup title in Australia in 1992. The coaching clinics, conducted under the auspices of the Pakistan Cricket Board and soft drink giants Pepsi, will be held at more than a dozen venues. "Cricket is so very much popular in Pakistan that every boy wants to don the green cap but you need to work hard," he said. PCB chief executive Ramiz Raja said a new first-class structure was among the many steps taken by the board to improve Pakistani cricket. "It is nice to have a person like Imran Khan's stature on Board, and through these regional clinics and competitive first class competitions we will set a strong foundation," said Raja, himself a former captain. Pakistan holds two major domestic first class tournaments, which are dominated by sponsored teams not cities.