Monday, January 17, 2011

Foreword: Top of the Charts

By Mansoor Akhtar

Pakistan’s cricket team until a few years ago had quite clearly lacked in the critical areas of game plan and strategy, mental strength, fitness and making optimum use of their individual brilliance to the team’s cause.

The decline had begun as early as the World Cup 1999 final and peaked during the World Cup 2003 and it became more obvious in the aftermath of the twin series defeats against India at home in early 2004.

The services of Bob Woolmer as coach were acquired by the Pakistan Cricket Board in an effort to ensure that the team came up with improved performance and did justice with the loads of talent it possessed. The move has paid rich dividends right away.

Woolmer, acclaimed the world over as the best cricket coach of the recent times, has taken command of the situation and the performance of the team has been quite encouraging with his arrival.

A team having endured lean patch for quite sometime could not have been expected to become the world-beaters overnight but they have been working in the right direction and the results are there.

There has been marked improvement in certain areas. Most importantly the fitness level of the boys has improved. They have become mentally tough now. The fielding has become much more athletic and purposeful. These factors have helped the team in winning matches on a more regular basis than in the past.

Now let me touch the subject of the book. The World Cup 2003 was a forgettable outing for Pakistan. A lot was expected from the team but it choked in the games that mattered.

Pakistan could only register victories over the minnows like the Netherlands and Namibia, who didn’t even enjoy the status of full membership of the ICC.

Pakistan, undoubtedly, had been placed in the tougher of two groups but nobody expected them to falter against all the Test playing nations. The way things stood even Zimbabwe could have taught them a lesson if the weather didn’t intervene at Harare.

After being overpowered by Australia, India and England, Pakistan faced an improbable task of crushing Zimbabwe by the heaviest of margins in their last game. Under the circumstances it looked very unlikely that Pakistan would have achieved the objective if the game was not ruined by rains.

The Pakistan team has already faced a lot of media criticism for having failed to deliver in the tournament. On the positive side the team did learn its lessons quickly and with the change in guard there are signs of a turnaround. They need to continue winning to regain their confidence that was shattered in the last World Cup.

We need to acknowledge the role of writers, authors and statisticians who devote their energies in producing publications of historical value. Knowing his caliber and having gone through his previous books there’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Syed Khalid Mahmood’s Top of the Charts will be another success story.

***For further details about Top of the Charts, please write to or call Asad Raza at 0333-2304024

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