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Inzy mistimes parting shot

Just hours after Woolmer's death, skipper's ODI retirement shocks cricket, writes Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Mar 20, 2007 02:28 IST

Revered the world over as a batsman whose timing is as good as anyone the game has seen, Inzamam-ul Haq probably mistimed the announcement of his decision to quit captaincy and one-day cricket.

Barely hours after the shock demise of Bob Woolmer and Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller leaving the team hotel after personally conveying her condolences to the players, the Pakistan captain said he was taking responsibility for the team's ouster from the World Cup and leaving the hot seat after their last Group D match against Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Members of the team management said there were efforts to dissuade the skipper, but he did not listen. "We tried to talk him out and told him that this might send wrong signals, but he had already made up his mind," said an official who didn't wish to be identified.

To everyone close to the Pakistan team, and even to the layman, it was clear after Saturday's defeat against Ireland that Inzamam would call it a day.

Only, it struck none on Sunday that the captain would leave a sinking ship just hours after losing the coach.

Inzamam was peppered with this question at a media conference in the evening, which everyone assumed had been convened to remember Woolmer.

"Don't you think it's the wrong time so say this", "aren't you being insensitive by saying this at this tragic moment", "what difference would it make if you were to say this after the last match" — there was an incessant flow of queries, but Inzamam was firm.

"I admit it's a very emotional moment, but I had to make this announcement," he said, but did not explain what was so compelling.

"I admit Bob's passing away is a great loss for Pakistan cricket and I'm deeply disturbed by it, but I didn't have a choice."

Inzamam said that Woolmer knew about his decision. "I had a small chat with him on our way back from the ground after the Ireland match. Bob said we could discuss it tomorrow, but the tomorrow never came."

The batsman who gave millions immense joy with his inimitable strokeplay thanked everyone possible — teammates present and former, captains he has played under, the board, fans and family — for making his career satisfying, and apologised to people back home for the team's unexpected failure to last beyond the first week here.

"I can only say sorry to them and take full responsibility. We tried our best but couldn't do better. I think I let them down and should step down because of that," he said.

Inzamam sounded genuine. Only, the timing appeared dreadful. A man who feels responsible for his team's poor show could perhaps been more responsible in announcing what was more or less on the cards.

In the unique world of the Pakistan cricket, many things happen. Still, this was just as shocking as their premature departure form the World Cup and Woolmer's death.