Fri, Aug 24, 2007 - Page 22 News List

New coach looks to turn around Pakistan's fortunes

AFP, LAHORE, Pakistan

New Pakistani cricket team coach Geoff Lawson, left, gives some tips to Mohammad Asif, center, as Umar Gul prepares to bowl during a training camp for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan's new coach Geoff Lawson wants his side to become the best team in the world despite their ignominious exit from cricket's World Cup earlier this year.

The debacle -- which saw minnows Ireland send them packing from the competition's first round in March -- got worse when coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in the team hotel in Jamaica the next day.

The disastrous sequence of events led captain Inzamam-ul Haq to step down and quit one day cricket.

Now Lawson believes things can be turned around.

"The main achievement for me is to bring consistency to the players' form and performance and we will work in all areas to be world's best side," the 49-year-old Australian said.

"I am here after leaving my country and home to take up a tough assignment, and I am glad to see that the players have a desire to learn, which is enough for my confidence," Lawson told reporters after landing in Pakistan on Monday.

But not long after he touched down he discovered that four prominent Pakistani cricketers -- Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Farhat -- had put their national careers at risk by joining a rebel Indian league.

Lawson is hopeful that Yousuf will change his mind.

"Yousuf is not only worth it for his runs but also for his influence on younger players, so I hope he changes his mind," he said of the senior batsman, who set a new world record for most runs in a calendar year with 1,788 last year.

If Yousuf and the others stick to their guns, then Lawson will have a side considerably short on experience.

The coach disagrees that one squad member with a lot of experience, maverick pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar, will be tough to coach.

"As a fast bowler myself, I feel I can deal with that kind of a temperament which is normal in fast bowlers," Lawson said of Akhtar who, along with new-ball partner Mohammad Asif, was involved in a doping scandal last year.

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