‘PCB chief also backing Lawson’

Thursday, July 12, 2007

KARACHI: Pakistan’s cricket chiefs are ‘more or less’ agreed on appointing former Australian Test pacer Geoff Lawson as the new national coach next week.

Sources told ‘The News’ that Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf is now also favouring Lawson for the job which means that Dav Whatmore could be in for another snub after losing out in the race to become India’s coach last month.

It has been learnt that Pakistan manager Talat Ali met with Ashraf in Lahore on the sidelines of the national training camp on Wednesday and informed him about the reservation the team management and senior players have against the possible appointment of Whatmore as the Pakistan coach.

Talat, a former Test cricketer, also briefed the PCB chief about his meeting with former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who did not speak very positively about Whatmore, who masterminded Sri Lanka’s successful campaign in the 1996 captain when Ranatunga was the captain.

According to sources, Ashraf told Talat that he is aware of the fact that most of the Pakistan team players would be more comfortable with Lawson than Whatmore.

The Colombo-born Whatmore, who recently quit as Bangladesh coach, is believed to be tough taskmaster and is generally not very popular with most of his previous charges. Lawson, 49, on the other hand left a very positive impression on the national players when he visited their training camp in Abbottabad last month.

Sources say that initially Whatmore was the favourite to become Pakistan coach mainly on the basis of his solid credentials but now the top PCB officials are tilting towards Lawson, who took 180 wickets for Australia in a successful Test career.

The group lobbying for Lawson believes that since the Australian has never been a high-profile coach, he might show more hunger for success as compared to Whatmore who enjoyed a lot of success during his tenure as Sri Lanka’s coach.

Pakistan’s previous coach Bob Woolmer was also a high profile coach who had a successful stint with South Africa in the nineties.

However, the Englishman did not enjoy much success during his association with Pakistan that was tragically cut short with the coach’s death in Kingston on March 18.

His team was thrown out of the World Cup following a stunning loss against underdogs Ireland in March. The next morning Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. His death was treated as murder but later Jamaican Police announced that he died of heart failure.

Because of the controversy involving Woolmer’s death, not many coaches including Whatmore showed interest in an advertisement placed by the PCB. The Board later short-listed three coaches — Whatmore, Lawson and Richard Done — and is to select either one of them at the PCB ad-hoc committee meeting on July 16.

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