Shape up or ship out, warns PCB chief

Published: Monday, January 10, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan's cricket chief warned the national side's big guns to start firing during the rest of their Australian tour or face the chop following their 3-0 rout in the Test series.

"No player is bigger than the team," wrote Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan in a letter to players, the contents of which were made available to AFP by sources close to the board.

"As the team moves to the triangular (one-day) series in Australia it is an appropriate moment to convey the Board's and the public's concern at the disappointing performance in the Test matches," he wrote.

"No sensible observer expected Pakistan to win against the world champions but the required fighting spirit was not visible as the advantages in every Test were frittered away by lack of concentration, the inability to deliver the killer punch and the absence of key players due to injury."

He added: "Let me make it clear that a thorough review of management, player commitment and discipline is being carried out and those found short on national pride and team commitment will not be saved by reputation or misplaced notions of indispensability."

Pakistan suffered a morale-sagging 491-run defeat against Australia in the first Test at Perth, losing a clear advantage after catching Australia napping at 78-5 in the first session of the series.

They went down by nine wickets each in the following two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney, again squandering early advantages in both matches.

The defeats were compounded by injuries to captain Inzamam-ul Haq, who missed the last two Tests due to a back injury, allrounders Abdul Razzaq (breathing problems), Shoaib Malik (split webbing) and fast bowler Mohammad Sami (heel and back trouble).

Pakistan begin a one-day tri-series with a match against Australia on Sunday with Inzamam still uncertain and a question mark hanging over fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar. The West Indies are the third team in the event.

Khan wrote that he was concerned by the team's lack of fight. "The genuineness of the injuries is not in question but the will to fight it out on the field of battle was clearly missing."

Former Pakistan great Imran Khan has also lashed out at the "spineless" performance of the team in Australia last week, calling for Inzamam's sacking as captain.

The PCB chief pointed out that after providing financial security through central contracts which give players a monthly salary and world class facilities through a foreign coach, trainer and physiotherapist, players must be held accountable for their performances.

"The team can draw positives from the performance of the younger players who will return mentally stronger and battle-hardened," he said.

"We now need a committed team effort in the one-dayers to redeem our cricketing pride. I know captain Inzamam and his team have the spirit to achieve this objective," he concluded.

PCB chief Khan had backed Inzamam and Pakistan's English coach Bob Woolmer after the Test defeats, saying they would not be sacked abruptly but a review of the team and management would be carried out after the tour next month.

Pakistan tour India next month to play three Tests and five one-day internationals.

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