The next Pakistan coach will be a Pakistani, and the decision is not going to be taken in the near future, Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said today. Addressing the media at the PCB headquarters at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Ashraf announced some immediate changes in the administration of Pakistani cricket, said some key decisions were on hold and promised that some were in the pipeline.
Time, Ashraf said, was on Pakistan's side - their next international assignment is the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September, giving them enough time to regroup after the debacle in the West Indies.
The immediate concern was filling the key positions of coach and captain, and both decisions are on hold. Pakistan have been without a coach since Bob Woolmer's death in Jamaica two weeks ago - Woolmer's contract was to expire anyway in June; later that day Inzamam-ul Haq announced he was giving up the captaincy.
"In all probability we will certainly now look for a Pakistani coach, but it will take some time to find a suitable man," Ashraf said. On a replacement captain, he said: "We don't want to make a hasty decision, we will name the captain and vice-captain within 30 days."
Some decisions announced today related directly to cricket. One has already been executed: The PCB has suspended central contracts of members of the Pakistan team, Ashraf said. "All players contracts stand suspended. We are going to introduce performance-base contracts very soon."
Ashraf also had some things to say on the players themselves. No player, matter how big he is, should take his place in the Pakistan team for granted, he said. He also said he believed that Pakistan's cricketers lacked in mental toughness. "We need to work upon this aspect as this is the most important area through which most of the top teams win matches."
Ashraf himself had resigned after Pakistan's successive defeats in the World Cup eliminated the 1992 winners from the ninth edition of the mega event in the Caribbean. However, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, who is also patron of the PCB, had rejected the resignation yesterday and asked Ashraf to continue.
It was also announced that a baseball coach would be hired from the USA to improve fielding standards. "The coach will be not for three months or four months, we would hire him for at least one year", Ashraf said.
Off the field, the PCB has set up a three-member Performance Evaluation Committee to look into the causes of the World Cup debacle. The committee, comprising former Test players Ejaz Ahmed, Salahuddin Ahmed and Salim Altaf, will submit its report within the next 30 days, Ashraf said. The report, he added, will be made public.
The PCB has been without a constitution for some time now and Ashraf said the document was currently being vetted by the Attorney General and would be put in place at the earliest possible opportunity.
Acknowledging that the general public sentiment was against the players, Ashraf appealed for calm. "It's not the time to panic and overreact," he said. "I know people are angry and disgusted with the performance of the national team, but let me asure you that cricket is not going to die down in this country of 160 million."