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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Inzamam's Exclusive Interview With Geo Super

Inzamam-ul-Haq sat down with Fakhr-e-Alam of Geo Super and gave an exclusive interview. He was candid and often witty as he answered the tricky questions on the loss in the world cup, captaincy issues, religion, criticism from former players, next coach / captain, and the death of Bob Woolmer.

Here is a transcript:

Fakhr-e-Alam (F): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Super Exclusive, where we have a very special guest with us, the ex Pakistan captain and a batting hero in his own, Mr. Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Inzamam, you have been a great servant of cricket for Pakistan but today we are here to talk about some issues which are very hotly debated in socieity's circles today.

Inzamam(I) : In the name of Allah, most gracious most benficient. Yes ofcourse I am here to talk to you and to the nation and I will try my best to answer all the questions.

F: Inzamam, what were the reasons for losing the game against Ireland. If you are asked to give 4-5 reasons, can you put them down here?

I: Yes I will ... give you reasons. I will give you ... two reasons.

  1. We played bad. I mean this is for sure that we played very badly on that day. It was not a good performance at all.
  2. Secondly, when ever you get a green or wet wicket, it evaporates the gap between a minnow and a senior side. Then it becomes equal game. And we lost toss too because if we had wont the toss it wouldnt have been the issue. I know we would have gotten them out on 100 or something and easily chased it.

F: But Inzamam, the Irish batsmen played on the same pitch and chased down your total.

I: That is right they did it but you see when you have gotten any side out for 130 odd runs, its easy to chase down because you have 50 overs to do that task and no need to take undue risks.

F: Ok fine, then what happened against West Indies. The match against them didnt have similar pitch and you had to chase less than 250 runs.

I: Again, ok ... we did not play up to potential in that match...

F: There we go again. So we didnt play well in that game too...

I: Yes we did not. It was a chaseable total I agree, but if you see in West Indies targets around 250 are tough chases. You cant say it was an easy target. It was a tough target and If you look now in the results of the world cup, most teams who score this many runs batting first are able to save the game.

F: Imran Khan has said that he doesnt understand why you didnt bowl Kaneria at the end of West Indies innings... what do you say about that?

I: Well Imran Khan didnt understand a lot of things, i have heard...

F: Imran Khan didnt understand a lot of things!!!

I: Yes, but regardless he has his opinion and I have mine. I believed that the straight boundary was short and I didnt want to risk Kaneria in the slog overs with a short boundary.

F: Imran Khan has always said that teams require talent, technique and temprament. Irish batsmen played against Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar and Muhammad Sami on the same pitch. We know and agree and adore you that you have talent. We can see this country and team has talent. But what about the questions on temprament and technique?

I: Let me answer about temprament. Muhammad Yousuf has broken a 130 years of record of having scored the most runs in a calendar year and...

F: Thats a 30 year record!

I: It is 30 year record because that many years ago some batsman scored the most runs in a calendar year. But since the history of the cricket uptil now, no one has scored as many runs in a calendar year as Muhammad Yousuf. So it is 130 year old record. So about this guy, what can I say, he must have temprament or you can not do that.

Now come to Younus [Khan], if you look at his two year record I think his average is above 50. Now if I say that he does not have technique or temprament then I would be worng.

Now if you talk about me, you can decide with my close to 12,000 runs that whether I have temprament or not.

What we are left with are openers and yes we had issue there.

F: Again with the openers. how long has this problem been!

I: Yes this is a problem.

F: Wasim Bari said that why should he resign as a selector. He used to give you a team and you wouldnt play it. You would play your own team? What would you say about that?

I: How can I play my own team? Could I play from outside the 15 players that he would select from me?

F: Then why would he say some thing like that?

I: I dont know you should ask him that! I think when one looses, one should admit it. We lost the world cup and we accept it and I think Wasim Bari should also accept and admit it. According to the rules selectors have more power over the captain. Now if he was under my power then its either his weakness or more about my strength.

F: People are saying that the captain was too strong and the captain did not listen to the selectors.

I: Let me ask you one thing, if the captain was big headed or too strong then there must be some reason for it. Why doesnt some one ask these people what was the reason of the captain being too strong. Its being said that even if a peon was fired or a clerk was hired in the board it was due to the captain. Was I running the board, the first class system and every thing else as a captain?

F: Yes, you said this same thing in the press conference too.

I: Yes I did.

F: Ok now come to the issue of Mushtaq Ahmad as an assistant coach and the firing of Waqar Younus as a bowling coach and it is said that you had pressurized the board to do both. Justice Quyyum had fined Mushtaq and advised that he not be given any official position with the pakistan cricket. Yet he was appointed assistant coach twice, did you pressurize the board?

I: Lets talk about Waqar first... if you see, Waqar actually resigned from the position. Now I dont know what has been said and what people know but the fact is that he was due in South Africa for the test matches. I was told by Dr. Nasim Ashraf that Waqar had said this [waqar had said that he would resign if not taken to South Africa for the ODIs] and I told him that instead of resigning tomorrow, why dont you resign tonight. Now this is the truth of the matter that I had no knowledge of any thing prior to that.

Now coming to Mushtaq, Justice Quyyum's recommendations. Were they sent to me?

F: They were sent to the board...

I: Yes to the board. So If I ask for some one and the board gives him to me, is it my fault?

F: Its Pakistan Cricket Board's fault...

I: I think that if one can represent Pakistan, one can also hold an official position.

F: Inzamam, you are a religious man and thats great but your own people, even your tour media manager for the world cup, PJ Mir has said that the boys were focused on preaching more than winning matches. Why do you think this was said?

I: This has been said before and personally I dont like to talk about it because I dont like that a muslim makes prayer an issue. But, as muslims if its time to pray then you should pray, in fact one should take time out to pray. Its must. PJ said things about praying in the plane...

F: Yes about praying in the business class, calling for prayer and then offering prayers...

I: Now if its time to pray in plane then one has to pray. I wasnt leaving batting practice to pray or Bob hadn't set up a net for me and I went off to pray.

F: Inzamam, Imran Nazir and Azhar Mahmood were brought into the team suddenly. For some years the selectors didnt look at them, and then suddenly for the SA tour they were brought in and then selected for the world cup.

I: If I select a player, or ask for one, then there is a reason behind it and I will answer all the questions. I will give you reason.

None of the openers we tried were working. Imran Nazir is one player who on his day can stand up and demolish the opposition. Now he showed that in SA and then in the world cup as well. For me, I didnt know exactly but with my experience and the reports that were coming in, the pitches in the West Indies were supposed to be like the sub continent. On such ptiches Imran would have proven successful. So that was the thinking behind his selection.

Azhar Mehmood is a simple case. One day before leaving, Razzaq got injured and he was out of the touring party. Now I had no choice. I needed some one to fill that role and Azhar has done it before.

F: Ok. One thing we can see these days is that Imran, Aqib, Sarfraz and even the board itself is now saying that the loss of the world cup is due to you. The blame is on you and the responsibility is on you.

I: It is said about me that I dont run very well. I am not going to run away now either. Yes, I accept responsibility for the loss.

F: Very well. If now Younus [Khan] does not take the captaincy. You have said you will want to play Tests. Will you play under a younger captain?

I: I think its an honor to play for Pakistan and even the younger captain will find it honorable to be captain. I have no problems playing under any one.

F: Now lets talk about another major incident. One was the loss to Ireland, it happened. But then the death of Bob Woolmer which is now investigated as murder. Are you happy with the support you got from the board and overall situation?

I: No. First thing to notice is that if the world cup had been taking place in Pakistan and such an incident would have happened. A coach of a foreign team is murdered. What would be the first issue that would be raised?

F: Security!

I: Exactly. One hotel has four international teams staying there and all of a sudden you have a murdered coach. They should be asked first what about the security situation. What kind of security have you provided?

F: Inzamam, who do you see as a good coaching prospect for Pakistan?

I: I believe that a coach and captain should be selected as soon as possible. The coach shouldnt be who has never coached at any level and suddenly made coach of Pakistan. He should have some experience in coaching at some level and should definitely be a good natured human being.

F: Good nature is very important.

Ok Inzamam, before we let you go, one final question. Is there a chance that if pressurized, you could make a come back in ODIs?

I: No.

This is a partial, unofficial transcript. Conversation with another guest, a senior journalist, is not included in this transcript.

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