Miandad blames weak setup for team's defeat

Associated Press
Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene, center, celebrates scoring a fifty in his final test innings during the fourth day of the second test cricket match against Pakistan in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Aug.17, 2014. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
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ISLAMABAD (AP) — Javed Miandad has blamed a weak domestic cricketing base for Pakistan's poor performance in the 2-0 test series defeat in in Sri Lanka.

"Our batsmen are weak against quality bowling. We could compete against weaker teams like Zimbabwe, but not against teams like Sri Lanka, South Africa or England," the former captain and coach of the Pakistan national team told The Associated Press on Monday. "Before the series I knew it won't be easy for our batsmen because Sri Lanka is very tough in their home conditions."

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath's rich series haul of 23 wickets helped the Sri Lankans notch victories by seven wickets in the first test and by 165 runs in the second, sending former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene into test retirement Monday with a series sweep.

Miandad, who played 125 test matches, has had three stints as national coach since retiring as a player in 1996 and also served as director general of the Pakistan Cricket Board before quitting earlier this year due to differences with other officials.

Pakistan had more than six months out of test cricket after a drawn series against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates.

During this period Pakistan failed to defend its Asia Cup title and also failed to reach the semifinals of World Twenty20.

The PCB overhauled the coaching staff and recalled Waqar Younis as head coach, with Zimbabwe's Grant Flower joining the team as batting coach before the tour of Sri Lanka.

But Miandad said it would be difficult for new coaching staff to quickly iron out technical flaws in Pakistan batsmen who were untested in difficult batting conditions.

"You can't teach a batsman when he makes it to the test team, but unfortunately our batsmen have too many flaws," he said. "It's just like you don't do your homework when you go to your classroom.

"I never expect anything exceptional from our batsmen because I know one day they will bring smiles on the faces of millions of their supporters but on two days they will disappoint their fans."

Miandad said Sri Lanka was able to rely on Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene, "who both had been scoring prolifically over the last five years, but unfortunately we don't have that class in our team."

He also cited too much shuffling in the PCB management structure as a reason for the team's bad run in the international arena.

"There's too much politics in the cricket board and when the institution is weak you can't have a good product," Miandad said. "We had chosen the best batting lineup for the test series against Sri Lanka, but if they struggled, you could well imagine what the backup would be."

Another former test captain, Mohammad Yousuf, demanded that the aging Misbah-ul-Haq quit the captaincy.

"I wasn't in favor of Misbah when he was first made captain four years ago," Yousuf told the AP. "We should have made a young captain because Misbah was already 36 when he took over."

He also questioned Misbah's tactical decisions, particularly the batting order.

The "captain should lead from the front, if the top order is struggling, why is he coming so lower down the order?" Yousuf said. "He could have even opened the innings, but what happens is that he comes lower down the order, scores 50-60 odd runs at a snail's pace which does not help the team in achieving positive results."

Pakistan faces test series against Australia and New Zealand leading into next year's World Cup, and Yousuf is proposing fast bowler Junaid Khan as a contender for the captaincy.

"We are losing under Misbah, so there's no harm if we try a youngster as leader of the team," he said.

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