Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pak Cricket Needs World Class Batting Coach and Top Psychologist

Pakistani national cricket team's horrible performance at the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy is uncharacteristic for a side widely regarded by experts as one of the most talented in the world. The latest losses have unleashed a torrent of anger in Pakistan with demands for heads at PCB to roll yet again.

For some in Pakistan, the understandable anger has turned into total insanity. For example, former Pakistani cricketer Aamer Suhail has laid the entire blame at the feet of Imran Khan who led Pakistan to its sole victory in ICC World Cup in 1992.

It's unfortunate that Pakistan's losses at international cricket competitions do not force a sober assessment of the team's strengths and weaknesses. Rather, the so-called "experts" resort to self-serving analyses.

 In my view, a dispassionate review of the team's record would bring out the following:

1. Pakistan's bowling attack is among the most potent in the world and it should be maintained and enhanced.

2. Pakistan's batting is among the weakest in the world and it needs serious improvement.

3. Pakistani players, particularly batsmen, collapse under pressure.

The best way to move forward is to do the following:

1. Hire a world-class batting coach who has a track record as a super batsman but also knows how to effectively coach a young side. This search for such a coach needs to be world-wide and selection done in a professional manner.

2. Bring on board a world-renowned sports psychologist to increase mental toughness and improve the overall temperament and tenacity of the players to perform well under pressure. The anger for the loss should not be directed against individual players. Instead, the passion should be channelized to improve the effectiveness of the team as a cohesive unit.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Top Ten Sledges in Cricket

Pakistan Breaks Australia's 34-Match Winning Streak

Obama on Cricket

Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Peace Talks

Pakistan Punish Aussie 2-0 in T20 Series 

Afridi's Leadership

Pakistan In, India Out of T20 Semis

Pakistan Beat India in South Africa 

Kiwis Dash Pakistan's ICC Championship Hopes

Pakistan Crowned World T20 Champs

Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Beats Tennis Great Roger Federer


Riaz Haq said...

Cries of "Shabash Lala" rang out with Pakistan's mercurial pathan's tremendous power and skill on full display at Providence Stadium in Guyana today.

First, Shahid Afridi joined his captain Misbah-ul-Haq at the crease to score a quick 76 runs off of 55 deliveries to build Pakistan's respectable total of 224 for 9. Then Afridi went on to claim 7 wickets while conceding just 12 runs to limit West Indies to 98 all out. The other wicket-taker was Mohammad Irfan, world's tallest cricketer, with 2 wickets for just 17 runs.

When Afridi took the crease, Pakistan's top order had collapsed once again against the moving ball as Jason Holder delivered a searing new-ball spell of 8-4-8-4.

Misbah-ul-Haq was playing his usual hold-the-innings-together role scoring at about a run an over, but when Afridi strode out, he was immediately looking to score a run a ball. Pakistan were 47 for 5 and the team's last recognized batting pair was in the middle, but that didn't stop Afridi from launching his third delivery for six over long-off.

The second biggest contributor to Pakistan's total was Captain Misbah-ul-Haq with his 52 runs scored from 121 deliveries he faced.

 Afridi's latest comeback marks yet another phase of the 33 year-old cricketer's career which has been characterized by quick flashes of brilliance followed by long stretches of mediocrity. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to say that Afridi's inconsistency is also the hallmark of the entire Pakistani national team with few individual exceptions like Misbah-ul-Haq, the current captain, who is known for his consistent batting performance.

In spite of the big win, it's important to recognize that fundamental weaknesses remain in the Pakistani side.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's most popular lala Shahid Afridi is engaged in a very public spat with his former team-mates over his batting skills and performance. Going by Afridi's recent record I see his value to Pakistan team mainly as an effective bowler who occasionally makes some runs. Unfortunately, it does not help solve Pakistan's biggest problem which is its weak and inconsistent batting.

Imran Q said...

Its the two T's that need to improve, temperament and technique. Batting coaches cant do anything if those two are missing. Batting coaches can only make improvement in the technique but temperament comes from with in and can only change with lots of effort...

Riaz Haq said...

Imran Q: "Its the two T's that need to improve, temperament and technique. Batting coaches cant do anything if those two are missing. Batting coaches can only make improvement in the technique but temperament comes from with in and can only change with lots of effort..."

38 of 45 studies of sports psychology (85%) have found positive performance effects on athletes, although causality could only be inferred in 20 of these studies. These interventions could be classified as relaxation-based, cognitive, cognitive-behavioral or behavioral in nature.

Riaz Haq said...

An official in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told PTI that sports psychologist Babri will hold two separate sessions with the players at the national cricket academy in Lahore. (Also read: Pakistan seek help to improve umpiring standards)
"The players are going to attend a four day conditioning camp from Wednesday and these sessions are part of the camp," he added.
The official said head coach, Waqar Younis had requested for the short camp in a bid to allow the players to start a bonding process and leave in high spirits for the World Cup campaign.
"Dr Babri has held sessions with other players in the past including the banned Muhammad Aamir and others like Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad," the official said.
He said the purpose of the two sessions was to lift the confidence of the players and remove any fear or anxiety they might have before such a mega-event.
"Some top former players like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Javed Miandad who were part of the 92' World Cup winning squad have also been invited to share their experiences with the players.
"The Chairman of the board, Shaharyar Khan will also give the players one message at their farewell dinner to play positive and fearless cricket in the World Cup without any fear of defeat."
Meanwhile senior players, Misbah-ul-Haq, Muhammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi all appeared for their fitness tests at the NCA on Monday and according to the official they passed the tests.
"Misbah is carrying a hamstring injury and he has shown remarkable recovery and appeared good in the fitness test. All indications are that he will be fit to lead Pakistan before the two one-day internationals against New Zealand later this month in New Zealand," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Misbahul Haq is among the few well-educated (MS in Nuclear Physics) even-tempered cricketers in Pakistan's history. He never panics. He stands tall and fights in the most difficult of circumstances. He stays at the crease and consistently scores runs when wickets are falling around him like autumn leaves. His is the third highest score in ICC World Cup 2015 so far. His score in just this world cup is higher than Shahid Afridi's combined score in the last 4 World Cup tournaments.

Riaz Haq said...

UK-based psychologist offers services for Pakistan team

KARACHI: Taimoor Ali Khan, a Pakistani sports psychology consultant based in the United Kingdom, has expressed his desire to work with the Pakistan cricket team on its upcoming tour of England.

A former first-class cricketer, who played for Islamabad in the 1990s as all-rounder, is a highly-educated, having done MBA and MSc in Elite Performance Sport Psychology from the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at the Bangor University, Gwynedd in Wales and has been based in the UK since 1999.

Taimoor, 39, has the added distinction of being the first Pakistan-born to complete a thesis on cricket and while talking exclusively to Dawn from Nottingham on Saturday, he stressed the need to attach a sports psychologist with the Pakistan squad on what is expected to be a demanding tour in the coming weeks — their first Test trip to England since the spot-fixing controversy rocked the cricketing world in 2010 when the then Pakistan skipper Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were banned by the ICC for their involvement.

“Countries like Australia, England, India and South Africa realise the importance of mental training along with physical and skill training which is evident from their performance. At the top level players selected have the skill set and emphasis is given on their physical conditioning but mental training is of immense importance at that level,” Taimoor emphasised.

“In order to be successful and achieve greatness you are not only required to have the skill set or physical toughness but mental training is also of utmost importance.

“The way cricketers or other athletes practise their skills in their respective sport in the same manner they need to practise psychological interventions to achieve mental toughness to have longevity in their career.”

Analysing the importance of sports psychology, Taimoor offered to help Pakistan put up their best possible performance by working in liaison with the players, majority of whom have not played Tests in England.

“As a sport psychology consultant, my mental workout training emphasis on the identity statement, performance statement, visualisation, imagery, effective goal-setting, personal reward programme, solution-focused tools and mental toughness,” he remarked.

“In my thesis on cricket I developed a vision, support and challenge measure and transformational leadership behaviors, predicting vision, support and challenge within team sport.

“I believe that insecurity and uncertainty creates fear among Pakistan team cricketers which has a negative effect on their performance outcome.

“To enhance the performance and produce great results there is a need to build a strong team culture based on targeted behaviours such as inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, individual consideration, fostering acceptance of group goals, appropriate role modeling, performance expectations and contingent reward for positive reinforcement.

“On such a demanding and long tour of England continuous psychological and physiological support is of utmost importance for the Pakistan cricket team,” Taimoor said.

“As we are all aware that after the spot-fixing scandal on the previous trip [in 2010] this is going to be the first Test series between the two countries in England. Therefore, there will be immense pressure on players.

“The Pakistani players undoubtedly will be under a lot of scrutiny from the British media. The importance of a sport psychology consultant is of great importance for this tour,” Taimoor added.