Geoff Lawson would like to see Pakistan playing more Test cricket over the next few years, but admits there is little that can be done about it.
Pakistan are scheduled to play only three Test series in two years and one less if Australia pull out of their scheduled tour to the country next month. As the Future Tours Programme (FTP) stands, Pakistan will play Australia next month, host India towards the end of this year and then go to Sri Lanka in July 2009. Their last Test series was in November-December last year against India.
"It is strange that that we play only three Test series in two years but I am not responsible for the FTP and I don't organize the programme," Lawson said at the National Stadium in Karachi. "It's a little bit like India a few years back where we had lots of ODIs but few Tests. More Tests would be great sure."
Towards that end, Australia coming, even if for a shortened tour, would help and Lawson said that getting them over was the top priority. "My first concern is that Australia come over," Lawson said. "We can't affect what Cricket Australia or their players do but we can affect our own preparation and cricket. My focus is to make sure that our minds are on cricket and that we are mentally and physically ready to take on Australia when they do come."
Things are coming together for Pakistan in that respect. As ever, they will rely heavily on their pace attack for the series, in particular Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, who have both been out with injuries recently. Lawson said, however, that the pair was getting back to full fitness. "They're both working hard at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore and are bowling again. Asif is bowling off a three-quarters run up and if his elbow holds up, he will come back an even better bowler.
"Gul has come back from Australia [after a check-up on his back] and has been cleared and is doing some gym work now."
Pakistan are also looking into the possibility of hiring a sports psychologist for the side, a recommendation that Lawson had made after the tour to India. "We're in the process of trying to organize it," Lawson said. "Every major sporting team has one and we want to do everything to make our team the best side.
"I have suggested a few names from Australia who have experience with cricket, but I am also open to local names as they might understand and work with the Asian mindset better."