Wasim supports longer term for Afridi

LAHORE - Former Pakistan great Wasim Akram has called on the Pakistan Cricket Board to repose faith in Shahid Afridi by appointing him captain of the national team on a long-term basis. "I think Afridi should be made captain for a long term so that he gains more confidence because he is developing into a good captain," Akram said.

He also backed the all-rounder's demand for a batting coach. "I agree; the team needs a batting coach. Every team now has a full-time specialist batting coach with them and I have always believed that even at this level, the best players sometimes need to be given guidance and tips on batting issues," he said.

Akram's views are in complete contrast to Javed Miandad's, who has rejected the concept of having specialists on the support staff. Miandad turned down the Pakistan Cricket Board's offer to accompany the team to West Indies as batting coach on personal grounds. But Akram pointed out that even in international cricket, a batting expert with loads of experience and background could make a big difference.

"A batting coach can help batsmen sort out their technical issues and also guide them on different oppositions and conditions." Akram also felt the selectors did the right thing by allowing pacer Umar Gul to take a break from the one-day series in the West Indies. "I think Gul has been playing non-stop cricket for a while now and needed this rest.

It is not a bad idea to have a rotation policy in the bowling department because top pacers carry the risk of getting injured due to over-work," he noted. Akram said that his former pace partners Waqar Younis and Aaqib Javed would be able to groom the bowlers picked for the West Indies tour.

"It is good they are trying out new pace bowlers because we have lots of talent in this area." Akram, however, felt that there was a need to teach the Pakistani bowlers to bowl with discipline and cut down on the extras.