Pakistan Cricket Board’s chief selector Iqbal Qasim has been on his post for more than a year now. He has been both criticised and praised by experts and former players. On the one hand, Qasim’s admirers believe he has played his part well in stabilising Pakistani team and gave chances to deserving players. On the other hand, his critics opine that Qasim has given more chances to senior players despite their mostly poor performances and has not tried youngsters instead.

[caption id="attachment_288" align="alignright" width="220"]The middle-order batting problem should be solved as soon as possible: Iqbal Qasim The middle-order batting problem should be solved as soon as possible: Iqbal Qasim[/caption]

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, a copy of which was received by Cricnama, Qasim discussed the team’s performance in the recently concluded series against South Africa and also talked about future events, especially Champions Trophy.

Qasim said that South Africa, who whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in the Test series, are a much tougher side on their home grounds. Being No.1 Test team of the world, he said, South Africa have strong batting and bowling line-ups and their unity as a team has made them almost impregnable. He said it has always been difficult to play against the Proteas in their country and Pakistan were not fully prepared for such a series.

Putting blame on the last-minute tour to India, he said both team and management had not time enough for preparations against South Africa. Qasim said he did not want to make excuses, but Pakistan were beaten by a much better side as it was evident from the start of the series.

However, he said Pakistan lost many chances to overcome the opponents in the Test series, sometimes by fielding and sometimes by batting and bowling. “You can’t afford such mistakes at international level, giving chances to a side as strong as South Africa.”

As for the future tours of South Africa, the chief selector said players should be provided with sufficient time before the series – both before departure and on the South African grounds.

“Players would perform better when they have time to prepare themselves both mentally and physically,” he said and added that just one warm-up match before a Test series was not enough in his opinion.

He seconded Pakistan’s ODI and Test captain Misbahul Haq’s recommendation that young players should be sent to Australia and South Africa with ‘A’ team so that they get experience. However, he said the biggest problem is that young cricketers could not face foreign players because teams have not been touring Pakistan for ages. He said the board was mulling over to send ‘A’ and Under-19 teams for foreign tours, but it was quite difficult because of financial constraints.

Commenting on the team’s performance in the limited-overs cricket, Qasim said Pakistan were a much different side in one-day and Twenty20 matches. He said the team did their best in the ODI series and defeated by a close margin of 3-2. In the final match of the ODI series, Pakistani batsmen failed to set a fighting target which resulted in the loss, he said. “There’s a much room for improvement in our team and there are certain key areas on which the ODI team need to work on.”

He said middle-order batting has been a bane of the team for long and the PCB is finding ways to cope with it. “A camp will be held before the Champions Trophy in this regard and I hope the players and the management will address the problem.”

Of Younis Khan’s sacking from the ODI side, Qasim said it would be wrong to speculate that the veteran’s limited-overs career is over. However, he said the board’s selection committee would keep a watch on Younis and he needed to perform in domestic cricket in the ODI and format.

“Whoever performs is considered for selection and Younis Khan is no exception,” he said.

Pakistan’s seasoned allrounder Abdur Razzaq has not been included in the initial 30-man squad announced for the coming Champions Trophy. Qasim said should work and sort out issues with him. “We can’t consider a player who prefers to stay at home rather than take part in domestic matches. It’s a fact that Razzaq is a capable player, but he has to practise cricket again.”
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