Ijaz Butt, the newly-appointed chairman of the PCB, announced yesterday that Geoff Lawson's contract as Pakistan coach will not be renewed, but Lawson himself has not been told anything by the chairman. Nevertheless, Lawson is getting on in the immediate future with "business as usual."
In the two weeks since he was appointed, in fact, Butt has had no communication with Lawson at all. Most tellingly, the chairman met with the captain Shoaib Malik and the temporary chief selector Saleem Jaffar on Saturday but not with Lawson.
Unsurprisingly, the development has increased speculation that Lawson might leave before his contract finishes, though understandably he was reluctant to comment on the matter. "I have not had a meeting with or indeed heard a single word from the Chairman since he was appointed," he told Cricinfo.
"At this stage it is business as usual for all the coaching staff as we prepare for the Pentangular Cup, the West Indies ODI series [in Abu Dhabi] and give players tasks to perform during the Pentangular Cup as we also begin preparation for the India Test series in January."
Though Butt said Lawson will leave after April 2009, the original contract he signed runs up to August 2009. If that is the case, then it means Lawson is likely to be at the helm through the India series in January 2009, the Twenty20 World Championships and the tour to Sri Lanka next summer. Favourable results in any of those contests would raise questions about why the decision to not retain him was taken so early.
One senior player also raised the possibility of the changed dynamics of the player-coach relationship and its likely effect on the team. "Knowing that he is leaving will change how players respond to him and deal with him," the player told Cricinfo. Maybe they could have taken the decision closer to the time, or told him privately,"
Butt was unusually harsh on Lawson's performance in his comments, concluding ultimately that "we [PCB] have no utility for Lawson." The reason cited for keeping him on till April was financial: Butt said the board would suffer a "huge financial loss" if the contract was terminated immediately.