Thursday, April 17, 2008

An interview with Miandad

Last month I made my first trip back home to Pakistan since launching WellPitched. I had a burning desire to interview my childhood heroes for the blog. We do see regulars like Sarfaraz Nawaz, Imran Khan and Ramiz Raja feature prominently in the media but I was intrigued by the prospect of my heroes from Imran's many teams living normal lives after their cricketing ones. My mouth watered at the prospect of running into Salim Yousuf (still my favourite keeper) or Iqbal Qasim at the street corner and asking them what it was like to be part of a great team. But there is only one person who's appeal spans generations and who's hero value is up there with Imran's and that is Javed Miandad.

So on getting to Karachi I started hustling for an interview with the great man himself. Despite my efforts it appeared that the interview would not occur but on the day before I was supposed to leave I got a call from my aunt (thanks and thank you Lodhi sahab) at 10pm that Miandad was waiting for my call :) Wow! I picked up the phone and was very thankful to him that I got to chat for about 20 minutes. Thank you Miandad sahab - it was a pleasure talking to you.

Full Disclosure:
I am not a journalist and I wasnt even prepared for this interview. The interview was conducted entirely in Urdu, I have done a translation from my notes to the best of my abilities. Any mistakes or discrepancies you see can be due to my poor shorthand and bad handwriting.

Anyways, lets get on with it

Thoughts on the ICP/IPL:
No clear picture has emerged yet. While ICL has started for the second time around it isn’t clear what the ICC’s role will be moving forward. Also boards of other countries cant ban their players from playing in IPL. Players do get banned if they play in the ICL and as a result the cricketing cream is taking early retirement, which is not good for cricket

In terms of the role cricketing boards should play - no board should object to their players playing in these leagues. A national team consists of 12-14 players, all of whom have a limited lifespan as professional cricketers. If a cricket board cares for the financial wellbeing of the players, it should not object to players playing for leagues such as the IPL and ICL. There is nothing new about such a league – after all there was the league started by Kerry Packer in my days. There are two interesting points to note, firstly that there are two versions of the same sort of league, the ICL and the IPL, with only the latter having official support. Secondly the PCB doesn’t look after the players the same way other boards do (such as Australia) – hence due to the large amount of money involved, the impact on Pakistan will be interesting if not beneficial for the players. A complete ban by the board on this form of cricket will have a bad impact on players, especially the ones not managing to make it into the national team (Authors note: do consider the large number of debutants in recent years who haven’t held their spot in the team).

Obviously the main motivating factor for players to join IPL or ICL is a financial one – we should look into the reasons for this. The sport does not get financial backing in Pakistan whereas in other countries professional athletes (not just cricketers) are assured of a financial, medical and other forms of support from an early age.

As an example of what can happen when the proper support is there, take a look at the state of sports in Pakistan in the 90s. Jahangir and Jansher Khan were both at the top of their game in squash and just two years after Pakistan won the Cricket World Cup in 1992, Pakistan also won the Hockey World Cup in 1994.

In the end a player always prefers playing for his country over financial reward but earlier with departmental sponsors players knew that they had a guaranteed income. The IPL and ICL are filling this gap now.

On ball tampering and reverse swing:
This issue is out in the open now and everybody knows how reverse swing works. This doesn’t mean that everybody can reverse swing the ball. Reverse swing is an art and not every country can practice it. In addition you also need the right conditions for reverse swing and Pakistan is a perfect place for it where the dry rough pitches and outfields cause the ball to rough up. You get reverse swing after 50-60 overs in such conditions

Sledging has been happening in the past and it is not anything new. The ICC should not interfere and should instead let the players continue with the game. On the other hand the players should also be mindful that they don’t hurt someone’s feelings. This is because players are role models and younger fans and players look up to them. Also stumps now have microphones making it possible for everyone to hear what players are saying. Finally cultural differences also complicate matters. For example in many western countries standup comics use language that is considered offensive in the subcontinent.

On ex-players and their role in Pakistan cricket:
Ex-players are not being used at all and are going elsewhere – there is no life for players after cricket in Pakistan. Cricketing institutions like the PCB are being headed by “chamchas” when in fact good ex-sportsmen should be heading it. The PCB head should be a good administrator, should at least know something about cricket and should also surround himself with good competent people. Currently there is no system for appointing the PCB head due to which cricket in Pakistan suffers. The PCB head should also be an elected official with a clear set of goals for which he is accountable. These goals should be monetary ones since there is a lot more money in the game now compared to my time. In my time the only revenue came from grounds fee which was also used to pay the players.

On coaching Pakistan:
A player cant argue with a coach and at the same time the coach should also treat a player who’s played 50 tests differently from one who has played 10 tests. More senior players are set in the technique and it is not possible to change it at this level – Afridi is a case in point. At the international level it is more about tactics than fixing a players technique. Also our talent comes from gali cricket so a coach should be someone who has played in the galis himself and understands this form of cricket

On the future of cricket in Pakistan:
Organized cricket doesn’t exist at the grassroots level. If you look at the birth of Pakistan cricket, Kardar started off by selling tea to support his cricketing career. He was the one responsible for bringing departmental cricket at the domestic level in 1982. People like Waqar and Inzamam were brought through departmental cricket where they joined up with national players and learned from them. Salim Malik, Mushtaq Ahmed, Waqar, Inzamam are all products of departmental level. This form of cricket is required in Pakistan due to one main reason. In countries like Australia you have state cricket or academies which act as nurseries and polish the players. It is not possible to improve or fix a player at the national level because it is too late at that point. Kardar summed it up nicely when he used to say that we don’t need players who can score 50’s at the national level – we need players who can score 100’s

On being misunderstood and any last words:
I am always available for help and to serve the country. Cricketers should not be selfish, they should teach others and should keep the interest of the country at the top. In the end if cricket does well in Pakistan then the whole country is happy.

Simple, but powerful words from a man who has given so much to Pakistan cricket

Please leave any comments that you have and let us know which Pakistani cricketer would you like us to interview next?

Make your pitch on this post...

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10 Pitched:

  1. straight point said...

    how can any interview with miandad be complete without the mention of more... ;-))

    all in all great job!! and congratts for bringing in Miandad at well pitched...

    mian daad dene ko man kar raha hai...!! ;-))

  2. Obaid said...

    haha, buht buht shukriya. Just coming here, frequenting our simple blog is enough for us. SP you are one of the regulars so no need for any accolades :)

    I disagree about the more comment... no interview can be complete without mention of the Sharjah six, as cliched as that sounds. I just didnt have enough time to ask him. I was at my other Aunt's for a family dinner and was caught completely unwares... even my mom was quite amused and came in to eavesdrop, half out of amusement and half out of curiosity :D She doesnt know what a blog is, but she does know who Miandad is, even if he is at the end of a phone line

  3. straight point said...

    i meant MORE (the indian wicketkeeper, KIRAN MORE)...obaid!!

  4. Q said...

    That Jumping Jack incident was truly one of his best acts. Closely followed was the bat raise to Deniss Lillee, and the bus conductor comment to Merv Hughes.

  5. John said...

    Great job. Respect.

  6. Unknown said...

    potential interviews

    a) S Anwar on the personal life
    b) Qasim omer
    c) Senator Enver Baig on PCB etc

  7. Anonymous said...

    Fantastic! Even though Javed was public enemy number one in Australia when I was growing up I loved him for his tenacity, courage and pride. However, his running out of Rodney Hogg when he was gardening the pitch was pretty poor sportsmanship regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

    Javed is one of my favourite players of all time. Thank you from the heart brother, a splendid and exciting find on my travels in cyberspace this late evening.

    I'd really like to read an interview with perhaps the world's best bat, Mohammed Yousef. I'd like to know why he changed religion, why he changed his name (I'm guessing it's related)and what he and the other members of the squad really think of Geoff Lawson.

    Great job and thank you again for a glimpse at the great man Miandad.

  8. Obaid said...

    SP, ofcourse I know you meant Kiran More, the keeper. Thats why I said that for us the Sharjah six ranks higher.. antics etc are all entertaining but as the Aussies have shown us, there is nothing like winning

    Salman, will keep that in mind... hopefully my next trip home will be sooner. Maybe we should just have a poll on who to interview next

    Nestaquin, thanks for the words. I will try and reach out to Yousuf for an interview, "Inshallah", i.e. "God Willing"

    Everyone, thanks for reading and the suggestions!

  9. NAzhar said...

    Great stuff Obaid! Great interview.

    Miandad was a great player. He was a terrible captain and coach though...and his reference to what a coach should do is funny coz i think he did none of that...except get rid of senior players!

  10. Q said...

    Nazhar - Maindad didnt get rid of any senior players. He fought with them and did gel well with them, but he didn't get rid of any.

    He was a good captain initially, his win-loss record suggests that.

    He was terrible after he took over following Imran Khan's retirement in 1992 and that was primarily due to revolting players like Wasim Akram, Waqar, Salim Malik who refused to play under him..

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