For many fans of a certain vintage, Zaheer Abbas’s incandescence was the signpost of batting vitality. The legendary right-hander is now Pakistan’s chief cricket consultant and batting coach.
“I am completely enjoying my new role. The role of a consultant is to detect problems and resolve them. Pakistan batting has had its shortcomings. There have been a few problems which I don’t want to disclose. But the process has started. It will take some time, but we will get better,” he said in an interview on Friday.
Asked whether his reputation as an all-time great helped him get the message across better, Abbas chose to give credit to the team. “The boys are trying to understand me and, so far, the results have been good. I am hoping they will learn everyday,” he said.
Abbas, the only Asian batsman to score 100 First Class centuries, placed emphasis upon time-honoured methods. “Nothing about batting has changed over the years. You still have to bat out 50 overs. You can play lap shots and ramp shots, but you have to follow a simple rule to score runs: respect the good balls and punish the bad ones,” he said.
How does he handle someone such as Shahid Afridi, who, for all his game-changing prowess, is his own man? “He just needs to be asked to play according to the situation. He is fine with batting in the last 10 overs. We have been telling him that he can do it if he applies himself.”
He said he was very impressed with India’s batting. “The Indian batsmen are some of the very best in the world. Your captain (Virat Kohli) is very good,” said Abbas.
Abbas, 66, responded with a laugh when asked if there was a generation gap between him and the players.
“We were players who were part of the Kerry Packer series. We were the first set of players to use coloured clothing and play with a white ball. We were the ones who started it,” he said.