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Wednesday, May 30, 2001

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Ramiz blames domestic system

By Rizwan Ehsan Ali

ISLAMABAD, MAY 29. Former Test cricketer Ramiz Raja, one of the key members of the Pakistan Cricket Board Advisory Council, has conceded that poor domestic structure was the main reason for the national team's weak performance in international cricket.

In a live programme `PCB Vision 2005', aired on Pakistan Television late on Monday night, the former Test opener faced a volley of questions from a panel of journalists around the country.

``On mere talent and interest we can't succeed in international cricket. We organise a number of first class and club tournaments in Pakistan, but the quality of competition is not good. That's why we struggle in international cricket,'' Ramiz said.

``When one of our players goes into international cricket - after playing first class matches in Pakistan - he is at least two years behind his counterparts in South Africa and Australia because we don't have any proper coaching system,'' he said.

The former Test opener felt that the present set up of the board, headed by Lt. Gen. Tauqir Zia, had lots of problems when it took over in late 1999.

``There was no such word as consistency in the PCB. There were lots of in-house fighting and intrigues. We were not getting great players like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. There was no vision and we had to start from scratch,'' he said.

``We got Wasim and Waqar not from our domestic system but by luck,'' he added.Ramiz felt Pakistan had to have qualified coaches in order to train youngsters.

``We have only two qualified coaches and in comparison South Africa has around 350 professional coaches, so how can we expect to turnaround things overnight?''

In its Vision 2005 programme, the PCB has planned tosend at least 50 to 150 qualified coaches abroad for training. ``It will take three years. But after that our players would get know how of modern techniques from our own qualified experts,'' Ramiz said.

Ramiz blamed the associations for not developing playing grounds around the country.

The Balochistan province has no ground of international standard. Probably they (associations) have not enough funds, but we will try to develop at least 25 first class grounds around the country by the year 2005, he said.

The best part of Vision 2005 is perhaps the planned super league between the four provinces for which the board has sanctioned $250,000. The tournament will be played on the pattern of county cricket in England and international players would be invited to take part next year in April.

Ramiz Raja now plans to include Vision 2005 in the PCB constitution so that if a new set-up were to come in, it would be bound to follow the recommendations and development projects of the present board.

An ageing team!

Ramiz did not agree to the contention by a journalist that Pakistan had sent an ageing team to England.

``I think Wasim and Waqar are still better than our young players. We had high hopes on young speedster Muhammad Sami, but he was unfit.''

Ramiz said the board should not be entirely blamed for the poor performance of the team, ``but unfortunately in our country the performance of the board is judged by how the team performs.''

``I think we made the right decision in sending experienced players along with juniors to England because in English playing conditions one cannot win matches on mere talent. You have to have experienced players like Wasim and Waqar.

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