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Pakistani cricketers want Miandad sacked

Disgruntled Pakistani cricketers have tried to have coach Javed Miandad removed on the eve of the first game against tourists England.

Disgruntled Pakistani cricketers have tried to have coach Javed Miandad removed on the eve of the first game against tourists England.

The dispute between Miandad and six members of the Pakistan cricket team centres on the distribution of about £35,000 prize money Pakistan received for its participation in the International Cricket Council Knockout Trophy tournament in Kenya.

According to one Pakistani cricketer, who did not want to be identified, the six players do not want Miandad to have a share of the money.

Pakistan reached the semi-finals before being beaten by eventual winner New Zealand by 64 runs.

The cricketers, led by fast bowler Wasim Akram, will meet with the Pakistan Cricket Board to seek Miandad's removal as coach for the two-month England tour.

The players are Akram, Moin Khan, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul Haq, Saqlain Mushtaq and Azhar Mahmood.

The England squad today remained wary about taking encouragement from the crisis in their opponent's ranks.

The tourists are refusing to take the talk of unrest seriously and will expect Pakistan's side of multi-talented cricketers to line up against them in the opening match of the series under the lights at Karachi's National Stadium next Tuesday.

"That's for them to deal with - we just look at them as players on the pitch," stressed Surrey left-hander Graham Thorpe, who is well-versed in the complicated politics of Pakistan cricket having shared the Surrey dressing room with Saqlain Mushtaq for the last three seasons.

"We know what we're up against. They have an extremely talented bowling attack with great variation and their batsmen are very well proven as well.

"If they get distracted by all this then that would be great, but they are professional cricketers as well and they are out to try and win international matches."

England's cautious approach is well-justified given the insistence by the Pakistan Cricket Board that all problems have now been resolved with chairman Lieutenant-General Tauqir Zia claiming reports of a revolt were nothing more than speculation.

"I read about all that and if there was any disagreement I think the management would have told me," he said. "Both sides tell me there is no dispute - I guess it's just paper talk.

"The players have never said they wanted rid of Javed as coach and it is up to the Board who they appoint as coach. The players asked me only two or three months ago to appoint Javed in that position.

"There are some minor differences, but that is always the case in a family and it is nothing too serious."

Miandad was re-appointed to the coach's position in March this year and given a contract until the end of the 2003 World Cup. But he was ironically at the centre of the last major revolt back in 1994-5.

On that occasion, the rebellion was led by Waqar against captain Wasim demanding the inclusion of Miandad for the tour of New Zealand and although their demands were not met, Salim Malik took over in charge.

While Pakistan were busy bickering, England continued their preparations for their opening one-day warm-up match under lights against a Governor's XI on Friday with Thorpe turning his attentions to his forthcoming confrontation with Saqlain.

It is bound to have crossed Thorpe's mind more than once that during their time together that this winter their paths would cross again in three one-day internationals and three Tests over the next two months when his knowledge of Saqlain will be crucial to England's fortunes.

But whatever his thoughts and theories on Saqlain and his so-called "mystery delivery", Thorpe intends to keep them firmly restricted to the England dressing room.

He will certainly not repeat the mistake made by Andrew Caddick on the last tour to West Indies, who claimed he had "a ball" for Brian Lara - who enjoyed a fruitful series.

"It would be foolish for me to come out and tell everybody that I can pick him and this is the way I'm going to play him," stressed Thorpe.

"I will have a kind of gameplan against him, but it's best not to go out there too premeditated - I will take him as he comes along.

"It's not like I've never seen him bowl before, I've obviously stood there at slip and watched him bowl for Surrey and faced him the nets. I'm familiar with what he does, but facing him in a match is a totally different thing.

"Reading spinners is one thing but you still have to play them. It's like being able to pick when Shane Warne had that flipper - it's one thing picking it but you still have to play it."

He added: "I'm not going to say whether I can pick him or not, I'm not going to put my foot in it because he's such a skilful bowler.

"We'll speak about him, we try to analyse the opposition and try and find a way to counter their skills.

"They are such great bowlers. Against these sort of sides, even if you do get in they can knock one over and all of a sudden they can pick up two or three."