Grass-root cricket makes Pakistani players different, says Saqlain Mushtaq


A file photo of Pakistan cricket teams interim head coach Saqlain Mushtaq.
A file photo of Pakistan cricket team’s interim head coach Saqlain Mushtaq. 

KARACHI: National cricket team’s interim head coach Saqlain Mushtaq has said that the Pakistani cricketers are self-made and what they go through while playing at the grass-root level makes them different.

In an exclusive 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.

Saqlain was appointed Pakistan’s interim head coach in September after Misbah ul Haq and Waqar Younis had stepped down from their respective roles. Since his appointment, Pakistan has lost only one game – the T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia.

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

He said that he believes in empowering players.

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

When asked, if he wanted to be a permanent head coach, Saqlain said that he hasn’t decided yet and if any such offer comes to him, he will decide after discussing it with family.

He said that coaching Pakistan is different from coaching rest-of-the-world because Pakistani cricketers are self-made.

‘World recognises Pakistan’s talent’

“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 players are self-taught, on streets while playing grass-roots cricket. We, as cricketers in Pakistan, undergo tough environment at grass root 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 of Afridi’s bowling 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 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 for the cause. His work ethic is also exemplary, he is always so focused on his game, which makes him a successful player,” the interim head coach added.

He also praised batter and captain Babar Azam and termed him a megastar of Pakistan Cricket.

“The world recognizes Babar as number one. 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 added.

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