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Lawson takes charge of Pakistan

The former Aussie bowler who took charge on Tuesday, says he sees a lot of talent, skill and enthusiasm among the players.

cricket Updated: Aug 22, 2007 01:21 IST

Pakistan's new coach Geoff Lawson is confident his team can become the best in the world.

The Australian former fast bowler, who took charge of the senior team on Tuesday, said he saw a lot of talent, skill and enthusiasm among the players.

“They have all the required qualities to become the top side in the world. My main focus would be on improving their fitness and making them a more consistent side,” he said.

Lawson has been appointed on a two-year contract by Pakistan's cricket board and succeeded former England player Bob Woolmer, who died during the World Cup in March.

He is Pakistan's third foreign coach since 1999 after South African Richard Pybus and Woolmer. Lawson said Pakistan had always been an unpredictable side, a trait that worked both ways. He said unpredictability could be a big advantage if it was used positively and did not become a habit.

Lawson has taken up his new post a day after four top players, former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf, all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and batsman Imran Farhat joined an unofficial Indian Twenty20 league.

“I am happy with the spirit I see in these players. My spirits are also not dampened because of the loss of some of the senior players,” said Lawson. The boards of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have threatened to ban players if they join the Indian Cricket League, which was launched in May.

Lawson joined the training camp set up for the Twenty20 World Cup on Tuesday.

I prefer Pakistan, says Akhtar

Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has said that though the Indian Cricket League offer is still open for him, he will prefer to play for his country.

“The offer is still there but playing for Pakistan remains my top priority,” Akhtar said after his first meeting with new coach Geoff Lawson. Akhtar said representing Pakistan in the forthcoming Twenty20 World Cup and in the home series against South Africa and Australia were on top of his agenda.

“Money is not always the main thing in your life. Right now I am keen to do well for my country and figure in some good performances. I want to see our team doing well in the World Cup,” he said.

An appeals committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board yesterday suspended a Rs 300,000 fine and a penalty imposed on Akhtar for leaving the training camp in Karachi without informing the team manager Talat Ali.

"I am satisfied with the way the appeals committee handled the case and with its decision. I had informed the captain before leaving the camp," the bowler said.

Akhtar said he had made no threats that he would decide on the ICL offer after seeing how his appeal went in the disciplinary hearing.

"It was not a threat. It was something I felt strongly about. I thought I should have been given a chance to clarify myself before the penalty was imposed on me. "The ICL offer is still there, but for me the priority is to do well for Pakistan." Akhtar said he would not like to comment on the decision of some players who joined the ICL.

A big loss for Pakistan

A day after their prolific Test scorer Mohammad Yousuf joined the rebel Indian Cricket League, a shocked Pakistan Cricket Board said the loss of senior batsman is a big setback for the team.

Shafqat Naghmi, chief executive of the board, however, played down the signing of the three other players, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Farhat. “Yousuf’s signing is the biggest setback for us because he was required by the team,” Naghmi said.

“I spoke to Yousuf today and he confirmed that he has signed up with the ICL. It came as a shock to us. He is a quality player and will be missed,” he said.

Naghmi also said that the board's policy was clear that players who had signed up to play in the ICL would not be considered for national selection again.