An Interview with Aqib Javed (Part One) by Abdul Habib 22nd January 2009 This interview turned out to be huge so it's been split into two parts. This is part one of the Aqib Javed interview and is about upcoming batsmen, all-rounders, spinners and keepers. Part two will be about upcoming fast bowlers. Hope you enjoy it.. Abdul Habib: You've been working at the National Cricket Academy as a senior coach for many years now, what's your impression of it? Aqib Javed: It's a great place to work with both the current and the future stars of Pakistani cricket. It has up to date facilities and I'd say it's one of the best cricket academies in the world. Abdul Habib: There's a lot of the raw Pakistani talent in small villages, what are the NCA doing to tap into this rich resource? Aqib Javed: It would be impossible for the NCA to go to every village which is why we have 11 regional academies working under the NCA. The way it works is that these acadamies identify regional talent at a young age and develop it, their job is to groom their local players. They give these youngsters personal development plans and teach them how best to utilise their talent. There is an inter-regional tournament where the best of the best are identified, they're then brought to the NCA. Our job at the NCA is to prepare these players to play at the highest level so that the selectors have a good pool of talented cricketers to choose from. I think the NCA has been doing a very good job. Abdul Habib: Everyone I've spoken to about the NCA agrees with you, it's got a very good reputation amongst the players. How do you incorporate unofficial academies like that of Nadeem Iqbal in Multan into the NCA system? Aqib Javed: We have an infrastructure in place in every region to deal with the talent in the local area. Under this system anyone who works hard towards helping improve Pakistani cricket has our support. Abdul Habib: Well Nadeem Iqbal is now the assistant coach for the Multan region so I guess the system works! How do you think we should tackle the issue of flat lifeless pitches in Pakistan? Aqib Javed: People see test matches played in Pakistan and get the impression that we cant make bowler friendly wickets but that's not true. Pakistan domestic cricket has seen some lush green pitches over the last year or so, in fact the pitches were so helpful to the bowlers that there were complaints from the senior batsmen asking for batting wickets to be made instead of green pitches. The winter domestic tournaments are especially good for bowling and bowler friendly wickets but for international matches it's the host nations decision what sort of wicket to prepare. That's why you see so many dead wickets at Test level. Abdul Habib: Would it be possible to create bouncy pitches in Pakistan that can replicate Aussie/Saffie conditions? Aqib Javed: The difference between our pitches and the pitches in those countries is the clay content in the soil, thats what produces the bouncy nature of their wickets. It would be very difficult to bring the soil over from Australia and use it to create pitches in Pakistan, even if we did then it would be a short term solution. Over time the local climate and conditions would work on the soil and the bounce wouldnt last. Abdul Habib: Some of our members want to know why you want to change so many bowlers actions, what's your response? Aqib Javed: Do I? I dont think action changing is a good idea because it's not always easy for a bowler to adjust to a new action. There are only 3 reasons that we would change a bowlers action. Firstly if the action was deemed illegal, secondly if the action was causing the bowler to keep getting injured like we did with Talha and to some extent with Aamer. And lastly we would make small adjustments to the runup and landing of some bowlers if they're struggling to control where the ball pitches but that's more about making them comfortable and fully balanced on their approach to the crease than changing their action as such. If someone is getting good speed and control with a legal action then there is no reason to change their action. Action changing isnt a small thing you can just do when you feel like, there has to be legitimate reasons for taking a measure as drastic as that. (Aaqib answers questions on Mohammad Irshad and Yasir Ali's action issues in part 2) Abdul Habib: Ok moving onto spinners, what happened to Tariq Mahmood the Pakistani Murali who was in your 2004 u19 WC winning team? Aqib Javed: Tariq was a really special talent and had an outstanding u19 World Cup but then he was called on his action and had to go to Australia. I worked really hard with him because changing a player's action isn't a simple thing, the player needs a lot of support to get back to where he was. Unfortunately the change in his action meant that he lost his effectiveness but he's been working really hard over the last two years... Abdul Habib: ...has he got his effectiveness back? Aqib Javed: Yes he has. He's just played 2 seasons in grade II cricket where he's been taking lots of wickets and so we called him up to a recent specialised camp. Inthikab Alam saw him and was very impressed. Tariq is now playing FC cricket again, he's with Sialkot and he's got his variety back so I think he's as effective as he was in 2004. Abdul Habib: Is his action completely legal now? Aqib Javed: Yes. Abdul Habib: What are your thoughts on Yasir Shah? Aqib Javed: He's good, I think he'll make it one day. He's still young and improving on a daily basis but I'm concerned about his lack of height. Shorter bowlers struggle to get bounce off the pitch and he will have to work hard on his loop and rotation. Abdul Habib: What other spinners do you think have a chance to make the Pakistan team? Aqib Javed: I think Tariq has the best chance, we are struggling for quality spinners at the moment. Abdul Habib: Who's the next big name in Pakistani spin? Aqib Javed: Qadir's son Usman will be the one, he's as good as his father... Abdul Habib: ...hold on that's a huge claim to make, what are you basing it on? Aqib Javed: He's something extra-ordinary. Wait for another 3 to 4 years and you'll see what I mean. He's got very good balance, very strong wrists for his age and a strong grip. He's a natural born talent just like his father was. Abdul Habib: What's your opinion of Imran Tahir? Aqib Javed: He toured with me when he was playing in the A team, he's a really good bowler. He doesnt bowl big leggies but he's got good variety. The googly is his speciality but he's got a really good slider too. He's a better one day bowler than a 4 day one but still a very good talent. Abdul Habib: what happened? Why is he going to play for South Africa? Aqib Javed: When he was playing domestic cricket in Pakistan we had a lot of good options like Saqi, Mushy and Kaneria. The competition used to be tough so it wasnt easy for a spinner to get into the team. If he'd been playing regularly in the Pakistan domestic over the last few years then he would have had a good chance to play for Pakistan, especially over the last couple of years. Abdul Habib: Would u put him ahead of Ajmal or behind? Aqib Javed: It's a tough question. You cant compare the two, one is an offspinner and the other is a legspinner. Abdul Habib: Yes but we usually only play one spinner in the team, so which one would get in? Aqib Javed: If I had to choose then I'd say Ajmal is a better choice because his doosra makes him more effective and he's very experienced. Abdul Habib: What about Mansoor Amjad? Aqib Javed: He had an injury which kept him from bowling but he's playing again. I think Mansoor can be a really effective leg spin all-rounder. He has already played for Pakistan but he's a lot like Afridi and so their roles would overlap. Abdul Habib: Speaking of all-rounders, what about the 2008 u19 captain Imad Wasim? Aqib Javed: (big pause) He needs more time, maybe a few years. Abdul Habib: Have u heard of Nazar Hussain? How fast is he? Aqib Javed: I've seen him, he's ok for first class but I dont think he'll go any further. His speed is in the 130ks. Abdul Habib: Any other all-rounders in the domestic? Aqib Javed: Anwar Ali is a good swing bowler, is maturing as a batsman and is a brilliant fielder. I think he needs another season or two and he'll become a genuine all-rounder. Abdul Habib: What makes you think Anwar Ali is ready for test cricket? Aqib Javed: I said that? When? Abdul Habib: Well there was an article quoting you saying that. Aqib Javed: I dont remember saying that. Ali is a good bowler and can be very useful in favourable conditions but his chances of getting into the Pakistan team are better as an all-rounder. He's a medium pacer so it'll be tough for him to get into the team as a first choice bowler but he has the batting ability to become a very effective all-rounder. That would be his best route into the team. Abdul Habib: Moving onto batsmen, last time you gave us an interview you said Nasir would be big. Do you still hold that view? Aqib Javed: Yes and he's already played for Pakistan and made good scores so I stand by what I said. Abdul Habib: Why do you think Nasir wasnt picked for the Sri Lankan series, he's clearly in good form. Aqib Javed: Due to Khurram's good form, Khurram scored 150 and a few other good scores recently. He was with the team when they played the West Indies and I think it's a good strategy to give him a proper chance. We need a few good options in the opening department and we cant get that without giving other players a chance. Abdul Habib: What do you think about Khurram Manzoor? Aqib Javed: He's very keen, a gutsy batsman, hard working and can overcome his technical flaws by his sheer commitment. Early on he gives a lot of chances, he opens up his body, his technique isnt great and he can look really vulnerable. But once he's settled down, he's the one who can play a really long innings for you. Abdul Habib: The first time I saw Ahmad Shahzad batting was in the 2008 u19 WC, I was really impressed. I havent seen a batsman of that quality playing for pakistan in a long, long time. What's your impression of him? Aqib Javed: You're absolutely right, he's an outstanding talent. He has a good heart and he's very passionate about his batting. He's already played a side game against South Africa and was on the academy tour of Kenya/Zimbabwe too. He was very, very close to the Pakistan team, everyone was behind his selection but I think after a few good u19 tours he got carried away. He didnt sort out his priorities and at this young age if you want to make it then you have be very focused. Compare that to Umar Amin who was behind him in the selection queue but now Umar is with the team and has a central contract too. Abdul Habib: Umar Amin was another one that impressed me during that u19 WC, not as much as Ahmad Shahzad but he wasnt far behind. Your views? Aqib Javed: I think he's the ideal player, actually I would say a complete player. He's very focused, has a good attitude, is talented with a great technique and is a student of the game. When you sit down with him to discuss his batting, he's very eager to learn. He really wants to improve and is both interested in and concerned about what he needs to do to improve his game. He's also a great athlete. Abdul Habib: Khurram Shahzad? Aqib Javed: (long pause) I havent really worked with him very closely. Abdul Habib: Umar Akmal had a great season last year but he's struggling this season, what do you make of him? Aqib Javed: He's got the talent. He can hit the ball really hard and that's what cricket is about these days. I think he'll make it eventually but first he needs 2 or 3 seasons in the domestic circuit. Once he starts to get runs regularly then he could be ready to play for Pakistan. Abdul Habib: And Azhar Ali? Aqib Javed: He's improved his game a lot, the last time I worked with him he was a legspinner... Abdul Habib: ...he started out as a leg spinner? Aqib Javed: Yes in 2000 he was the main legspinner for the Pakistan u15 team but he worked really hard on his batting. He's a real hard worker and is very close to selection for the Pakistan team. Abdul Habib: In a recent interview England's Bilal Shafayat (currently captaining Pakistan Customs in the QEA) said that one of his batsmen Rameez Aziz is known as the Pakistani Brian Lara. Do you know Rameez Aziz? Aqib Javed: No, I havent heard of him. Abdul Habib: What about Shahzaib Hasan? Aqib Javed: Who? Abdul Habib: Mohammad Shazaib Hasan Khan, he plays for Karachi. He's only played a handful of FC games so far but has an impressive strike rate. Aqib Javed: No I havent heard of him either, he must be a new guy. It's easier to predict which bowlers will make it because if a bowler has pace or turn then it's a good indication but for batsmen it can take a few seasons. Abdul Habib: Any other batsmen who might make their names in next few years? Aqib Javed: Only the ones I've mentioned like Azhar Ali, Umar Amin and Ahmad Shahzad. I think Saeed Bin Nasir also deserves to be selected as he's a mature batsman who's paid his dues. Abdul Habib: I had a couple of questions about Fawad Alam, I know it's not your responsibility but I'd like your thoughts on it. He averages 50 in FC and 40 in List A. Why is he being treated like an all rounder and why have the team management batted him so low down the order? Aqib Javed: Well if you look at the Pakistani team then you have the openers at 1 and 2, then Younis at 3, until recently there was Yousuf at 4 and then Malik and Misbah at 5 and 6. All of them are good established ODI batsmen and first choice selections. Where else would Fawad bat if not after them? Sometimes Kamran and Afridi are sent in before him because at the death you need to send in your big hiters to make the most of your batting options. Pakistan had enough batsmen in the team, the only place available was for an all-rounder to make up the 50 overs so that's how he got in. Fawad is young and part of Pakistans future, it's good experience for him to be around the team and soaking up the atmosphere. As for his non-selection this series, I believe the intention was to make seam friendly tracks and so I think that's why Yasir Arafat was preferred over him. Abdul Habib: Whatever happened to Zulqarnain your 2004 u19 wkicket keeper? Aqib Javed: He's still there, he's good and for a while was close to selection but has been overtaken by Sarfaraz. Abdul Habib: What other keeping options do we have? Aqib Javed: There's Sarfaraz who is next in line and then Mohammad Salman who would be a really good choice too. Kamran has been impressive in the camps so far but it's good to have the options available if we need to turn to them.