Cricket: Wasim in control for World Cup

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WASIM AKRAM, the Pakistan captain, has been given sweeping powers for the World Cup both on and off the field. The technical coach, Richard Pybus, will act only as his assistant and Sarfraz Nawaz has been dropped as bowling coach.

The executive council of the Pakistan Cricket Board said yesterday that Wasim would have complete autonomy on team tactics and planning and would be part of the selection committee along with his team manager Zafar Altaf.

"He [Wasim] will decide team strategy and team planning," Nusrat Azeem, the PCB spokesman, said after a meeting which accepted the surprise resignation of the coach Javed Miandad, who quit 11 days ago.

Azeem said that Javed would not be replaced and that the team would play in the World Cup with only Pybus as assistant coach. "He [Pybus] will only assist the captain and manager, but he will not be part of team selection," Azeem said. "Miandad's resignation was accepted in the better interest of the team's future prospects. The council accepted his resignation with a heavy heart." Javed stunned the cricket world on 21 April when he resigned, citing "family commitments".

However, Javed yesterday confirmed local media reports that he had a confrontation with senior players during last month's Sharjah Cup. Newspapers said Javed had accused the players of deliberately playing below par in the match against England, which Pakistan lost by 62 runs.

Javed said he resigned because he felt he would be ousted before the World Cup at the insistence of the players. "And my point has been proved because the council accepted my resignation without even contacting me to find out the actual facts," Javed said. "If the players don't want me, how can I extract the best out of them. So I decided to quit and allow the players to give their best and regain the title."

n Steve Bull, the sports psychologist, will help England prepare over the next fortnight to cope with the pressures they are likely to experience as host nation in the World Cup. All 15 players and the various members of the back-up team reported to their Canterbury training base last night to begin an intensive programme, which includes warm-up matches against Kent, Essex and Hampshire, leading up to the opening match of the tournament against the holders, Sri Lanka, at Lord's on 14 May.