Thursday Dec 16 2021

Pakistani cricketers are self-made, says Saqlain Mushtaq

Saqlain Mushtaq during a training session with Pakistani players. -PCB
Saqlain Mushtaq during a training session with Pakistani players. -PCB 

Pakistan cricket team’s Interim Head Coach Saqlain Mushtaq is of the view that Pakistani cricketers are self-made and what they go through while playing at the grassroots level makes them different.

Saqlain was appointed Pakistan’s interim head coach in September after Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis had stepped down from their respective roles of head coach and bowling coach. 

Since his appointment, Pakistan have lost only one game – the T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia.

In an interview with Geo News, Saqlain said that it is important for a coach to understand a player’s mind and emotions before going into technical details with him.

“A player-coach relationship is like the relationship of a body with its soul. The player is the body, and the coach is the soul. So, the coach should know the player like the soul knows the body,” he said.

“It is important for a coach to understand everything about the player – his emotions, his thoughts, his approach – before going into technical details. If a coach doesn’t understand his player's mind, then he won’t be able to get the best out of the player.”

Saqlain said that he believes in empowering players and allowing them to express themselves.

“Players are giving their all, their heart and soul, in the field, during practice [sessions] and matches. I will give a lot of credit to them,” Saqlain said.

“I am enjoying my time with the Pakistan team as head coach. It is always an honour to serve your country. Every day is a new day and I start my day with thoughts of serving Pakistan cricket and the players. 

"I prefer empowering players and I let them express their mind after telling them about the options. It is heartening to see players backing each other,” he added.

Saqlain was initially appointed for the home series against New Zealand and England which were cancelled. His employment as the national squad's interim head coach was then extended till the T20 World Cup, the Bangladesh series and now, Pakistan's home series against the West Indies.

Many are in favour of Saqlain Mushtaq being appointed as the national team's head coach on a permanent basis. 

When asked, Saqlain said he hasn’t decided about it yet and if any such offer is made to him, the former Pakistani spinner will decide after discussing it with his family.

Coaching Pakistan different from other teams

The former Pakistani spinner said coaching team Pakistan was different from coaching other cricket teams. 

“The world recognises Pakistan’s talent and potential, and one reason for our unmatched talent is that we are self-made cricketers. A majority of our players are self-taught on the streets while playing grassroots cricket. We, as cricketers in Pakistan, undergo a tough environment at the grassroots level which helps us become stronger at the top level,” he said.

Replying to a question, the former spin maestro praised fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi and recalled the impact Afridi’s bowling had against India.

“I must say that what he did against India, especially those two deliveries – I’ve not seen anything like that in my whole life. Those two deliveries gave Pakistan a new energy and a fresh belief,” he said.

“His attitude is tremendous, he’s never tired and always ready to bowl for the country and contribute to the cause. His work ethic is also exemplary, he is always focused on his game, which makes him a successful player,” the interim head coach added.

He also praised batter and captain Babar Azam, terming him a megastar of Pakistan cricket. 

“The world recognizes Babar as the number one batter. There’s no doubt about his greatness. His mindset, his calmness is remarkable. He is a megastar of Pakistan Cricket. I pray that he dominates like this for a longer period,” he concluded.