Inzamam-ul-Haq on Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Pakistan's Test future
By Saj Sadiq - @Saj_PakPassion
Last Updated: 29/06/18 12:13pm
As chief selector, he saw his Pakistan side hold England to a 1-1 Test series draw, featuring a famous victory at Lord's.
So how does Inzamam-ul-Haq think India will fare in their upcoming five-match series against Joe Root's side, and how will Virat Kohli put past disappointments in England behind him?
Saj Sadiq caught up with the Pakistan legend to find out more, as well as getting Inzamam's thoughts on the future of Pakistan cricket and the flak he received for picking his nephew, Imam-ul-Haq...
Virat Kohli has a poor record in England, but do you think he can inspire his side to victory in the upcoming series?
Inzamam: There is no doubt in my mind that Virat Kohli is a great player and his performances are proof of this fact. Just because he has not been able to score heavily in England does not undermine his stature as an all-time great batsman.
If he is not able to put in a good performance in one or two innings, then that does not in any way reduce his stature as a player. We know that he works hard and he continues to learn day-by-day and we saw that proof in the manner he played in South Africa where he helped his side lift their game.
Despite the fact that he may not have a good past record there, England need to be wary that a player of Virat Kohli's quality can easily help his side win the upcoming series between the two sides.
How highly do you rate Joe Root?
Inzamam: The most important aspect of his batting is that he has scored well, not only at home but also abroad. To me, the mark of a great player is that he is able to perform well in all conditions and this is what Root has shown to everyone with outstanding performances around the world.
He is still new to the job of England's Test captain and as he gets more experience in this role, he will also prove his worth as a captain in the same way as he has shown in his batting.
You too were a batsman who coped well when the pressure was on. Do you think Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq can perform now that they are expected to lead Pakistan's batting unit?
Inzamam: Yes - I believe both should be able to stand up to the pressure, as they are best placed to take the responsibility of helping the team move forward.
Both Azhar and Asad performed well last year, although Azhar has had a few issues with his fitness recently, particularly with some problems with his knee. I am confident that in the future we will see that both of them will perform well and fulfil the responsibilities placed on them due to their seniority in the team.
You have faced some criticism for selecting your nephew Imam-ul-Haq, how do you respond to those critics
Inzamam: When it comes to the selection of any batsman, we take the advice of the Head Coach, Mickey Arthur, and the batting coaches as well. The batting coaches are aware of what work the player has done during the off-season and is a good indicator of his progress. In Imam's case, we asked for a report from the Pakistan batting coach, Grant Flower, and he praised Imam and recommended that he should be included in the side, as he has the potential to become a good international player.
Based on that, we gave Imam a chance to play in the Test side in Ireland and England. Now I am not saying that Imam's performances during those games were exceptional or he does not have flaws, but what I see in him is the potential to become a better player, as long as he continues to work hard. Now, it depends on the player to avail the chances he gets.
What is your vision for the future of Pakistan cricket?
Inzamam: I understand that there are people who are highly critical of our selection policies saying that the teams should have certain players and so on, but what they need to realise is that the selectors, captain and coach have a certain vision and want to select teams that will not just give us success in the next series but ones that will serve us in the long term.
One thing to note - and this is something I strongly believe in - is that some of the newer players were picked directly for their First-Class performances which will really encourage the players who are doing well at that level. What that will prove to aspiring First-Class players is that they too can be picked for the national team and also the fact, when given the chance, they are good enough to play international cricket and perform well at that level. All in all, I believe this sort of selection policy will greatly benefit Pakistan cricket.
How tough is it to be chief selector in a country where every other person thinks they can do a better job than you?
Inzamam: In any country like Pakistan where cricket is followed so passionately and there is so much admiration and scrutiny of the players, it is logical that everyone will have strong opinions about national cricket. It does make the job of the selectors very tough as all their decisions are under the scrutiny of the whole nation. But what we, the selectors, strive to do is to perform our duties with sincerity and honesty to ensure that we make a team which helps Pakistan cricket in the long term.
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