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  1. #1
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    "Coaches should be there to help fix player's problems, not just to say shabash & clap":Aamir Sohail

    In his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Aamir Sohail writes about Mohammad Amir's retirement from international cricket, why Pakistan coaches need to be more than just cheerleaders, Naseem Shah's suitability for the national side, Mohammad Waseem's appointment as Chief Selector and why Misbah-ul-Haq's role as Head Coach is based upon flawed reasoning by the PCB.




    Mohammad Amir's retirement from international cricket should not come as a surprise to anyone

    Mohammad Amir’s recent decision to retire from international cricket seems to have been triggered by his differences with the team management. But then we shouldn’t be surprised by this as this is not a new phenomenon because this situation where players are dissatisfied with team management has been in existence for many years. Instead of an atmosphere of unity and harmony in the side, we have a confrontational setup which is probably the cause of players feeling disillusioned with the team management, so in that sense Amir’s decision to walk away from playing for Pakistan should not really be a surprise to anyone.


    Coaches should be there to help fix player's problems, not to just say 'shabash' and clap

    Whilst the reasons behind Amir’s exit from international cricket have been well articulated by him, there are important takeaways for Pakistan cricket that need careful consideration. For starters, there is an eagerness to drop a player from the side or replace him altogether if he is not performing or suffering from poor form, without giving any thought to the reasons behind his issues and any attempts to fix those problems. In Amir’s case, the support staff associated with the Pakistan side should have jumped in to help him if he was having any problems and was not delivering to expectations – what else is the support staff there to do? Coaches should be there to help fix player's problems, not to just say 'shabash' and clap. Having coaches to just say 'shabash' and other words of encouragement defeats the purpose of specialized help. You might as well drop the coaches and hire some people to stand around and clap to cheer-up the players – I am sure that will cost much less!


    Flawed selection process for appointing coaches for the Pakistan side

    When we bring former players into a coaching role for our national side, they are expected to bring their experience to bear when looking after players in the side. To identify weaknesses and strengths of players is what a coach is supposed to do and if he cannot do that, then he needs to help the player hide those problems so that the opposition is not able to take advantage of that. Which brings me to the whole idea of selection of the coaches. Were they actually asked about what they saw as the issues with the side and how they would go about fixing those problems before they got their roles? Take the example of Naseem Shah who clearly has a problem in his action, but it seems that no one is able to fix it which is the kind of technical input one would have expected from our coaches. This aspect of their coaching knowledge should have been picked upon at the time of an interview for a position. There clearly was no probing of what technical inputs a potential candidate could bring to the table if selected as coach for Pakistan, and sadly that is now showing in the performances of the team.


    Naseem Shah's issues with his action should have been fixed before playing for Pakistan

    Pakistan’s decision to bring in Naseem Shah in the national side should have been based on sound judgement. Whilst having good pace is important – it’s not the be all and end all for a pacer. There are many important skills that a bowler needs to have to succeed and some of those are the ability to bowl six good balls, to get in and out of an over, to be able to setup batsmen and prize out their wickets not in just one, but maybe three solid spells in a day. And then, there is the basic question of the bowler’s action and whether it’s hampering or helping him. If the answer to any of these questions is a no for Naseem, then there had to be work done with him before he was brought into the Pakistan side.


    Throwing young bowlers into international cricket doesn’t work anymore

    There has always been a tradition in Pakistan cricket to throw talented young bowlers in the deep end and let them sink or swim. This approach used to work mainly because of the ability of these bowlers to impart reverse swing on the ball but things are different now. Top batsmen around the world have learnt to play reverse swing and this sort of bowling is no longer a novelty. So, bringing in novices into international cricket who cannot setup the batsman, or swing the ball or plan their spells based upon the state of the game is asking for trouble.

    Similarly, batsmen who cannot stay longer at the crease and hit 1 or 2 boundaries in an over, and then perish are really of no use to the side. Better quality batsmen are not dependent on just bad deliveries to score runs but are able to find runs off good balls as well and also understand the fact that having good strike rates is not about taking unnecessary risks but playing sensibly. This is where the importance of a robust structure at club and other domestic levels of cricket is most important. But, it’s equally important that the players are not just given generic guidance but given specific instructions to improve their game which is where the role of competent coaches is important.


    Culture and mindset shift needed to reduce the spate of injuries in the Pakistan side

    It is quite possible that players when told to get fit will overdo their training and get injured in the process. To me fitness is not an end itself but a way to get to your ultimate goal which is to be able to bowl more overs or bat longer to make not just hundreds but double hundreds. This could explain the number of injuries that our players are getting and to me this needs a change in our fitness culture as well as the mindset.


    Mohammad Wasim's knowledge of domestic players is a huge bonus for Pakistan

    What really fills me with optimism about Mohammad Wasim’s appointment as Chief Selector is the simple fact that he has been involved with domestic cricket for a while now. What that means is that he knows about the good players in our domestic game. This is because of his knowledge of the game in Pakistan due to his role as coach of Northern and also as a commentator. But where he can really make a difference as Chief Selector is in selecting the right players for the longest form of the game.


    Flawed Basis for Selection of Test Batsmen


    The problem we have at the moment is that the people responsible for picking our Test side are picking batsmen based on their strike-rate and how good most of them were in the Pakistan Super League. What should be happening is that Test batsmen should be picked on how long they can occupy the crease, their technique, their mental strength and whether they can bat for long periods and all day if needed.

    It’s ludicrous to pick players for the 5-day format based on their performances in twenty over cricket. There is no logic to this and we can see what sort of impact this logic is having on our Test team. We need a horses for courses theory rather than trying to slot twenty20 cricketers into the Test team. Pick proper Test batsmen who have been performing in 4-day domestic cricket such as Saud Shakeel, Usman Salahuddin and Mohammad Saad for Test matches instead of just sloggers for what is the toughest format.

    Players who are not only experienced but have good technique and have a good understanding of the game are the kind of cricketers who qualify to represent Pakistan, and this will be something I am hoping that Mohammad Wasim will prefer for the national side.


    Don’t blame Misbah-ul-Haq – instead ask questions of the people who appointed him

    I cannot get myself to blame Misbah-ul-Haq for any mistakes he is making as to be honest, he has been given the role as Head Coach of Pakistan and he is learning his trade whilst on the job. If he was preferred over other candidates by the PCB, then fairness demands that he be given time to prove himself. The fault is not with Misbah but his appointment is more of a reflection of the selection procedures employed by the Board. The right way to go about this should have been to ask some of these ex-players to coach at the grassroots level, and when they succeed there, these coaches should be moved up to the Pakistan Under-19 side and then on to Pakistan Shaheens. Once they have a proven track record of success at these levels, then they should be considered for coaching assignment with the Pakistan national side, rather than getting the top role straight away.


    The local talent in Sri Lanka is impressive

    I had the honour to be part of the TV commentary team at the inaugural edition of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) and what really impressed me most about this tournament was the presence of some excellent local talent. Sri Lanka has over the years produced some excellent players but, in this tournament, I got to appreciate first-hand a whole new group of leg-spinners, off-spinners who have no fear of flighting the ball, fast-bowlers and most importantly some technically well-equipped players. All of this augurs well for Sri Lankan cricket. The LPL was a little disadvantaged by the fact that a lot of international series were taking place at the same time such as those between New Zealand and West Indies, Australia versus India and South Africa against England so a few big-name players could not come to Sri Lanka. However, I fully expect next year’s edition of the tournament to have a much higher standard with the addition of some more world-class players.
    Last edited by MenInG; 30th December 2020 at 00:41.


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  2. #2
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    Enjoyable read. I especially agree with aamir's comments in regards to becoming a qualified coach (grassroots to u19 to shaheens and then, potentially, Pakistan).

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    Great writeup, Aamir bhai. Would love to know your thoughts, maybe in your next blog, on the opening combination of Shan and Abid as well - are they reliable enough at the top of the order? Abid in particular seems a bit exposed in overseas conditions while Shan plays behind the wicket a lot and has a habit of nicking the ball down the legside. He got out the same way in England, is it possible teams have begun planning this as possible way of dismissal for him?

    Also, what are your thoughts on Mohammad Abbas’s inability to penetrate wickets, especially ever since he’s come down in pace? It goes back to the point of needing a bowling coach who is technically equipped, rather than giving “shabaash” and a pat on the back. There’s a lot of scope for biomechanical analysis, which they’re doing in Australia and England these days and reaping the rewards.

  4. #4
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    Some hard hitting points and a lot of home truths. excellent interview.

    The comments about young fast bowlers and not selecting correct batsmen for test cricket really stands out.

  5. #5
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    Good insights by Aamir Sohail.

    These are all problems which are yet to be addressed by the so-called saviours of the PCB (Wasim Khan, Ehsan Mani). Rather than focusing all the interest on the PSL, it would be nice to see them spend time in addressing the grassroot structure.

    Glad that Aamir Sohail talked about Mohammad Wasim's knowledge of domestic cricket. He probably has a few people he wants to give a chance to. I don't know where I read it, it might even be incorrect, but I think that Mohammad Wasim wants to bring a specialist off spinner into the team in place of a leg spinner because of the utility. Don't know how accurate it is, but I vaguely remember some comment like that or an article.

  6. #6
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    His point about selecting Test Players based on PSL is factually incorrect. It's quite lazy to be honest. Either he's not watching PSL or not following Pakistan's Test Team.

  7. #7
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    A lot of stock is being put into Mohammed Wasim. Is he selecting the squad for the South African series ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by UzmanBeast View Post
    Good insights by Aamir Sohail.

    These are all problems which are yet to be addressed by the so-called saviours of the PCB (Wasim Khan, Ehsan Mani). Rather than focusing all the interest on the PSL, it would be nice to see them spend time in addressing the grassroot structure.

    Glad that Aamir Sohail talked about Mohammad Wasim's knowledge of domestic cricket. He probably has a few people he wants to give a chance to. I don't know where I read it, it might even be incorrect, but I think that Mohammad Wasim wants to bring a specialist off spinner into the team in place of a leg spinner because of the utility. Don't know how accurate it is, but I vaguely remember some comment like that or an article.
    If this is true then we may see Sajid Khan's debut very soon.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by unemployedgm View Post
    His point about selecting Test Players based on PSL is factually incorrect. It's quite lazy to be honest. Either he's not watching PSL or not following Pakistan's Test Team.
    I think he's suggesting guys like Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf and the IU connection.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hasan123 View Post
    A lot of stock is being put into Mohammed Wasim. Is he selecting the squad for the South African series ?
    Yes he is due to select that squad.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Yes he is due to select that squad.
    Let's see what he does. Do you think he would have the courage to drop someone like Azhar?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaddy View Post
    If this is true then we may see Sajid Khan's debut very soon.
    Big if, but won't be a bad idea. The best teams have specialist finger spinners, sometimes even more than one.

    Australia have Nathan Lyon, extremely successful in foreign conditions.

    India have Ashwin and Jadeja who bring control and take wickets.

    This is just the present, but going even further into the past, we can see that finger spinners are pretty dominant in test cricket.

    They bring accuracy and can threaten the edges without conceding too many runs. Pakistan needs a spinner like this when we tour overseas.

    It might be a long term investment, but like what Ashwin and Jadeja have done for India, potentially Zafar and Sajid could try to live up to the same expectation. It's a pretty useful combination for matches at home, but it could be difficult to fit them both in.

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    Zafar gohar and Usman qadir should play if NZL goes for a batting track, shaheen, nasim and fahim should be the fast bowling attack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unemployedgm View Post
    His point about selecting Test Players based on PSL is factually incorrect. It's quite lazy to be honest. Either he's not watching PSL or not following Pakistan's Test Team.
    Well Musa Khan certainly didn't get a test debut on the back of First Class performances.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by angrypathan View Post
    Well Musa Khan certainly didn't get a test debut on the back of First Class performances.
    Indeed, the IU connection strikes again.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Indeed, the IU connection strikes again.
    Misbah and Waqar connection?

    Waqar selected the bowlers for that tour and going fwd based on a two day bowling camp. He also personally promoted Nasim Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Hasnain, Musa on his Twitter handle as the future of the Pakistani pace attack even before these bowlers were selected

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    Younis' shadow is starting to show on the players, we didn't see a blockathon to save a test in Grant Flower's tenure. If anything, being the stern hard task master Younis is who followed strict discipline during his playing days for preparing for matches, his work ethic, his fitness, is going to give a good stick to our batters who totally deserve it.

    In addition to that, people have been saying he doesn't know what to teach and how to fix techniques of the batters, Bob Woolmer inculcated a lot of batting throwdowns and taught him ways to play many shots. The defense of a shortish delivery with a vertical bat softly holding the handle with the top hand while using only thumb and index finger for the bottom hand was even caught on camera. Bob Woolmer was teaching him that and Younis was demonstrating it. AND Jacques Kallis played that shot 100% similar with the technique Woolmer taught Younis.

    There was even a program where Woolmer used to teach different shots to the viewers particularly upcoming and ametuers cricketers with using Younis as the demonstrator.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hasan123 View Post
    Let's see what he does. Do you think he would have the courage to drop someone like Azhar?
    Don’t count Azhar Ali yet. He may score a match losing hundred in the second Test to save his career.

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    Sohail mostly speaking sense. Completely agree about selecting proven domestic campaigners instead of novices.

  20. #20
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    So easy to sit in studios with mics and be critical, solutions to the problems are required. Takes time and gaining experience in test cricket to improve.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Markhor View Post
    Sohail mostly speaking sense. Completely agree about selecting proven domestic campaigners instead of novices.
    Abid, Abbas, Shan, who are experienced cricketers with wealth of domestic cricket behind them yet are not performing, could be that the cupboard is bare regarding batsman and bowlers.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manunited18 View Post
    So easy to sit in studios with mics and be critical, solutions to the problems are required. Takes time and gaining experience in test cricket to improve.
    To be fair to Sohail he has provided solutions to the issues in this blog.



  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manunited18 View Post
    Abid, Abbas, Shan, who are experienced cricketers with wealth of domestic cricket behind them yet are not performing, could be that the cupboard is bare regarding batsman and bowlers.
    Abid and Shan are just reflection of lack of decent openers in Pakistan. Wealth of domestic experience alone is useless, it has to be a experience with regular performances. Both Shan and Abid have ordinary FC stats by most standards and unfortunately we dont have many openers with much better stats.

    Regarding Abbas, he was quality when he came into international cricket. Used to move the ball at around 130 or early 130kph which was enough with his accuracy and and seam movement. His right shoulder got injured in late 2018 and that was a big setback for him as his pace hasnt been the same since then, reducing his effectiveness on majority of the surfaces.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titan24 View Post
    Abid and Shan are just reflection of lack of decent openers in Pakistan. Wealth of domestic experience alone is useless, it has to be a experience with regular performances. Both Shan and Abid have ordinary FC stats by most standards and unfortunately we dont have many openers with much better stats.

    Regarding Abbas, he was quality when he came into international cricket. Used to move the ball at around 130 or early 130kph which was enough with his accuracy and and seam movement. His right shoulder got injured in late 2018 and that was a big setback for him as his pace hasnt been the same since then, reducing his effectiveness on majority of the surfaces.
    So in Abbas's case why on earth are they selecting him if he's had these issues
    Last edited by Manunited18; 3rd January 2021 at 02:44. Reason: Mistakes

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manunited18 View Post
    So in Abbas's case why on earth are they selecting him if he's had these issues
    They hoped that once he is back within sometime he will be at his 100% however, it hasn’t been improving as expected rather there has been no improvement in terms of pace.

    Below statement of Abbas from the time post injury sheds light on his initial struggles:

    “After injury, coming back into form is very difficult,” he was quoted as saying by PakPassion. “It had rained in Dubai and I dived and got stuck in the sand. In Dubai I had a check up and they said to have surgery, but our physios and doctors worked hard with me. I worked on my fitness also and lost weight, [but] after that my line and length was still not consistent.”

    I have noticed our players generally avoid surgeries, its their decision but the decision of treatment should be based upon optimal results which I am not sure has been the case with Abbas here. Hopefully he can work on his issues, maybe focusing on fitness can help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BunnyRabbit View Post
    Younis' shadow is starting to show on the players, we didn't see a blockathon to save a test in Grant Flower's tenure. If anything, being the stern hard task master Younis is who followed strict discipline during his playing days for preparing for matches, his work ethic, his fitness, is going to give a good stick to our batters who totally deserve it.

    In addition to that, people have been saying he doesn't know what to teach and how to fix techniques of the batters, Bob Woolmer inculcated a lot of batting throwdowns and taught him ways to play many shots. The defense of a shortish delivery with a vertical bat softly holding the handle with the top hand while using only thumb and index finger for the bottom hand was even caught on camera. Bob Woolmer was teaching him that and Younis was demonstrating it. AND Jacques Kallis played that shot 100% similar with the technique Woolmer taught Younis.

    There was even a program where Woolmer used to teach different shots to the viewers particularly upcoming and ametuers cricketers with using Younis as the demonstrator.
    I remember this. I will try and find it online, there may be some videos.

    Overall, Younis’ discipline mostly worried me because PAK as a nation is more of Haris Sohail in terms of personality than, say, Fawad Alam.

    Dogged determination towards fulfilment of well-defined goals is not the strongest forte. I was worried that his strict regime would have the same effect it had during his captaincy stint in spurning our tailunted, good for nothing, boys away.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yk313 View Post
    I remember this. I will try and find it online, there may be some videos.

    Overall, Younis’ discipline mostly worried me because PAK as a nation is more of Haris Sohail in terms of personality than, say, Fawad Alam.

    Dogged determination towards fulfilment of well-defined goals is not the strongest forte. I was worried that his strict regime would have the same effect it had during his captaincy stint in spurning our tailunted, good for nothing, boys away.
    This is the time to change things when we don't have the curse of many lazy seniors refusing to change their ways. Azhar is the only one with 50+ tests and is responding positively.

  28. #28
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    Also feel imam will respond to to younis khan, imam has a sound platform and is at a good age


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