Pakistan's one-day series against Australia which begins from tomorrow and the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup can be make or break assignments for Australian coach Dav Whatmore and a couple of players.
A well-informed PCB source told PTI that although PCB chief Zaka Ashraf has been giving optimistic statements but even he realizes that the national team needs to fire against Australia and in the World Cup.
"He is feeling the heat because he removed a winning coach in Mohsin Khan to bring in Whatmore and after the big defeat to India in the Asia Cup and the defeats in Sri Lanka he knows the team needs to quickly reverse its fortunes in the coming weeks," one source said. The source pointed out that Ashraf was well aware that the Pakistani nation don't take kindly to poor performances from their team and want to see them win all the time.
"Ashraf is also worried because so far the communication level he wanted to see between the national selectors and Whatmore has not been seen as yet while more disappointingly the foreign coach also has failed to get out of the customary trend of toeing the line of the captain," the source added.
Another source disclosed that atleast twice Whatmore had disappointed the selectors by first agreeing with some of their decisions and than backing out in front of the captain be it Hafeez or Misbah.
"This has happened twice. First when Misbah was dropped from the T20 squad and secondly when Younis was dropped for the one-day series," the source said. Historically, all foreign coaches who have been hired by the PCB have fallen into the same trap of not wanting to enforce decisions that don't necessarily please the captain of the team.
"It happened when Bob Woolmer was coach and it happened when Geoff Lawson was coach and it is happening all over again now," the source said. The selectors are also said to be shaky after dropping senior batsman Younis Khan.
"They don't know what to expect. They know if the batting flops against Australia in the one-day series the guns will be out for them from pro-Younis supporters," the source said. "They have taken a big risk because any series against Australia is always a big one even if the Aussies might be struggling for form and with fitness issues and retirement of players."
Perhaps that is the reason why Whatmore cautioned his players prior to the series to get their act right. "Whatever team is put out by the Australians will always be competitive. Yes they have had some injury problems and a retirement as well, however we will expect a fight in every match," Whatmore said.
Some former Test players also believe that Pakistan has not had the best of preparations for the one-day series against the Aussies. "I don't think it is a good trend that the players didn't reach Dubai in one group, that they didn't have a conditioning camp to gel together and thirdly they were allowed to go and play in the Sri Lankan Premier League," former test bowler, Jalaluddin said.
"But Australia is at its weakest now and this is our best chance to beat them," he added. Although Whatmore has been given a two year contract but Pakistan cricket is famous for its fickleness in throwing aside contract commitments while some of the players also know it might be a final chance for them to remain in the team.
"Lawson had his contract terminated in a matter of days, Waqar Younis faced a situation where he resigned without completing his contract. The list goes on," one source pointed out.