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A report is circulating lately in Pakistani media that Mushtaq Ahmed is going to be the new coach of the country’s cricket team. Although the sudden announcement by Bangladesh to tour Pakistan has somewhat put the news on the back burner, it is still an important piece.

[caption id="attachment_219" align="alignright" width="300"]Mushtaq Ahmed is currently the England’s spin bowling coach (Photo: AFP) Mushtaq Ahmed is currently the England’s spin bowling coach (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

Mushtaq Ahmed, who is currently England’s spin coach, is willing to fill in the place of bowling coach lying vacant after Aqib Javed’s departure. But there is a technical issue in his appointment which is either deliberately overlooked or media is not aware of it.

Mushtaq Ahmed is one of the players who was questioned by 2000 Justice Qayyum Commission, established for match fixing investigation. Not only he had to face severe allegations of involvement in match fixing, the commission also recommended not to consider him and Wasim Akram in future for any important position in team or board while also keeping him on watch list. This statement is enough to disqualify Mushtaq Ahmed for Pakistan’s coaching assignment.

On the other hand, Wasim Akram, one of the all-time fast bowling greats, who is now associated with Kolkata Knight Riders of Indian Premier League, has never been appointed Pakistan’s bowling coach despite being the most suitable candidate for the job. He was not given any position in team or board after the Justice Qayyum’s recommendations. Isn’t it applicable to Mushtaq Ahmed, too?

England has progressed splendidly well in spin bowling department under the coaching of Mushtaq Ahmed. Graeme Swan has reached the top position in world rankings and with his help England has secured many a victory. The fact remains that delegating any responsibility to Ahmed would be a contempt of the commission’s decision; it would also might not be fruitful due to many other valid reasons.

In fact, had there been a strict implementation of Justice Qayyum Commission’s recommendations and players had been strictly punished instead of small fines and warnings, match fixing issue would not have grown serious. If the Pakistan Cricket Board really wants to scrap the commission’s report then Wasim Akram is more suitable for the job.

Mushtaq is a spinner and spin is what he has been coaching, while Pakistan’s biggest problem is that of fast bowling. Pakistan has three quality spinners in Saeed Ajmal, Muhammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi who have done well in the past year; while the fast bowling department has been facing problems constantly, particularly after losing Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir. Umer Gul’s inconsistency, Juanid Khan’s fitness issues and poor performance by Wahab Riaz and to some extent by Aizaz Cheema, too, have been the haunting issues.

More importantly, Pakistan need to campaign to bring fresh blood in the team. Only a person with experience and vision can do it and Wasim Akram, who is also a contemporary of ex-coach Waqar Younis, has all of the characteristics of a fast bowler and a coach as well.

Till day there are only two significant candidates for the PCB, first being Pakistan’s former fast bowler Muhammad Akram and second an Englishman Ian Pont. Ian Pont is an experienced coach and has served as a bowling coach for Bangladesh; he has recently resigned from the head coach position of the victorious ‘Dhaka Gladiators’ of Bangladesh Premier League. On the other hand, there is Muhammad Akram, currently engaged in cricket commentary and a British resident. Although a less known name in international coaching, he has vast experience of playing in England and is familiar with Pakistani conditions.

It feels strange to see media so jubilant about Ahmed joining the race. Pakistan’s largest newspaper daily Jang says that Mushtaq Ahmed has emerged as a strong candidate. Regarding this the newspaper also referred to his two alleged meetings with chairman PCB Zaka Ashraf in Lahore last month. It has been said that preliminary clauses of contract came under discussion. The daily newspaper mentioned that Ahmed’s contract with English cricket team has ended after Sri Lankan tour, and in the coming days he will be offered a new contract by managing director ECB; however, Jang claims that Mushtaq Ahmed will refuse the offer of new contract as he has decided to work with Pakistan cricket team.

Meanwhile the country’s second largest newspaper, daily Express, reports that Mushtaq Ahmed has a bright chance to become the coach and it also has referred to his two meetings with the board chairman. According to its resources Mushtaq Ahmed is ready to ‘serve the country’ for even half the remuneration he is getting from English Cricket Board. The newspaper claims that board is not interested in having a third foreign coach in the presence of Dav Whatmore and Julian Fountain. They have also come with a logic: if the bowling coach would be a Pakistani, he would be helpful in team’s communication with the English speaking coaches. Interesting, isn’t it?
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