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World Cup nightmare still haunts Inzamam

Published: Monday, July 30, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Karachi:Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq is still coming to terms with the sudden death of coach Bob Woolmer during the World Cup and his country's dismal showing in the Caribbean.

The batsman retired from one-day internationals and relinquished the Test captaincy hours after Woolmer was pronounced dead in a Kingston hospital on March 18, a day after Pakistan lost to Ireland and tumbled out of the competition.

Inzamam paid tribute to the South African-born former England Batsman, describing him as a most committed man who changed the culture in the team.

"It does not matter how we worked together. But Bob, despite facing so many fitness problems with the bowlers, managed to gel together a young side and turn them into professionals," Inzamam told Reuters in an interview.

"He had time for the players at any hour of the day. Due to him, the players should have no problems adjusting to life under new coach Geoff Lawson."

The veteran of 109 Tests, in which he has amassed 9,813 runs, and 378 one-day internationals added that his decision to retire from the short version of the game and quit the Test captaincy was a spur of the moment one.

"I had not thought about retirement for long. It was just something I had to do at the lowest point in my cricket career," he said.

"All the players were disappointed but for me as captain, it was unbearable. I have no regrets over my decision."

Having been a member of the Pakistan team in the 1992 and 1999 World Cup finals, Inzamam said the first round exits in the last two tournaments hurt him more and haunt him even now.

The 37-year old insisted his desire to continue playing Test matches was not akin to that of a fading professional unable to make a clean break from the power, money and glamour that top performers in the South Asian region enjoy.

"I am confident about my form and fitness and getting to 10,000 Test runs is not just an ambition but a real possibility for me."

Inzamam said he was happy to play under any captain if he was selected for the Test team and offered some advice to new skipper Shoaib Malik.

"My desire like everyone else is to see the team win. I have no problems playing under anyone," he said

"In Pakistan cricket, the real test comes when the team is not doing well. When it is winning, everything is fine. It is when your team is losing that the captain has to keep the players together. He has to fight for them."

However, Inzamam highlighted the need for the board to treat its senior players with more respect.

"If our players are treated right they can give so much more for the team. Never put undue pressure on them."

Reuters

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