Where’s the next Imran?

Apr 06 2014, 02:23 IST
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SummaryThe ability to stand firm under pressure had made the Pakistani team a special unit under Imran Khan. The present team, however, lacks self-belief, which is a reason why they are so inconsistent

At the Mirpur academy nets, India’s bowling coach Joe Dawes erected a dummy and asked players Varun Aaron and Mohammed Shami to have a go at it. The batsmen practised in a separate area, basically concentrating on their bat swings and taking throw-downs from fielding coach Trevor Penny. Next day at Fatullah, Bangladesh, Aaron gave away 74 runs in 7.5 overs before being barred from bowling for letting out back-to-back beamers in India’s Asia Cup opener against Bangladesh.

There might be little connection between the Indian quick’s training novelty and his performance on the field, but the method was curious enough to raise a few eyebrows. The obvious question was, why didn’t he bowl to the frontline batsmen in the nets, which might have been more helpful both ways?

This Indian team revels in confidentiality, so it was too far-fetched to think that Dawes would appear before the media to explain his methods. This correspondent approached Wasim Akram, who was there in Dhaka on a commentary assignment. When asked if he had ever used a mannequin during his playing days to perfect his art, the Pakistan great smiled widely. “No, never. I always preferred the original. Original hilta hai, dummy hil nahi sakta (the original can move and use his feet, a dummy can’t).

About three weeks later, I asked the same question to Waqar Younis when he dropped in at Kolkata. Akram’s new-ball partner struggled to understand what exactly a dummy batsman is all about and what role does it have to play in net sessions. After listening to everything, he simply dismissed the idea.

Akram and Younis have 1,705 international wickets (Tests and ODIs combined) between them and they always backed their natural ability to succeed.

In fact, Pakistan cricket has always been about thriving in individual brilliance, which makes them one of the most exciting sides in the world. The ability to stand firm under pressure had made them a special unit under Imran Khan. The present team, however, lacks self-belief, which is a reason why they are so inconsistent.

Samuel Badree is not considered to be good enough to play for West Indies in Test cricket and 50-over cricket. He bowls flattish, fastish leg-spin, which is suitable for T20s. Pakistan batsmen made him look like Shane Warne the other night. Sunil Narine was bowling from the other end and took the mickey out of Shoaib Maqsood.

There’s no shame in struggling against a

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