For the past three weeks, the cricket fields of the UAE have provided an education in how different cricket cultures approach succession planning.
Lions look to grow while Waqar looms for Pakistan
DUBAI // For the past three weeks, the cricket fields of the UAE have provided an education in how different cricket cultures approach succession planning. During that time, Pakistan and England have been exposing the players regarded as next in line to national team berths, in the form of an A team series in the Emirates. While English cricket bosses have been quietly pleased with the success of their Lions on these shores, Pakistan have been more interested in who has been in the commentary box. Raza Hasan, a 17-year-old left-arm spin prodigy, might have caught the eye, while Mohammed Hafeez did everything in his power to prompt a recall to the senior side, with bat, ball and as captain. Yet the only solution Pakistan cricket chiefs seem to have hit upon has been sat behind a Ten Sports microphone, in the form of head coach-elect, Waqar Younis. Members of the Pakistan board clearly feel they require a big name to lead the side from its latest malaise, hence their meeting with the great fast bowler last weekend in Dubai. Waqar seems to be itching to get back on the training field, too. Ahead of the two Twenty20 matches between the two senior national sides, he was even offering up some tips to Ajmal Shahzad, the British Asian seamer who was to make his debut for England. He is now mulling over the chance to replace Intikhab Alam as head coach. By contrast, England's touring party has appeared to be an ego-free zone. David Parsons, the ECB performance director who headed the Lions staff on tour here, did not play first-class county cricket, let alone internationally. As such, he can probably empathise with his group of mainly little-known young players, who are all aiming to make it big. All the while, it has been his job to yoke together the aspiring international stars to make a team. "It is one of the challenges on this type of tour, but we have to credit the players for how they have handled it," said Parsons. "We started as a group of 15 individuals, all from different countries and never having been in the same room together at the same time, but the way they have gelled together as a team, and put in creditable performances, they can be proud of that. "At the same time, one or two of them will have pushed their claims for international honours in the future." Craig Kieswetter, for one, has been on the fast track to the top. He was a late addition to the Lions squad, and when they first arrived in the UAE he was still officially South African. After impressing in the Emirates, most noticeably when the Lions beat their senior colleagues in a Twenty20 match in Abu Dhabi, he has been drafted into the full side for their limited overs matches in Bangladesh, starting tomorrow. "One of our underlying objectives is to look at players who hopefully can go on and play for England some time in the future," added Parsons. "We have had a good opportunity to do that, and no doubt every player will go back feeling better for the experience."
Good tour - Michael Lumb The Johannesburg-born opener may have been concerned when England's selector, Geoff Miller, raised the alarm over the number of South Africans in the national team. Miller predicted Craig Kieswetter might be the last of his type to make the senior side, but the IPL-bound Lumb has made himself impossible to ignore Bad tour - Steve Davies The wicketkeeper batsman earned a lucrative move to Surrey at the end of last season, and had also become recognised as Matt Prior's understudy in the full national team. However, Craig Kieswetter leapfrogged him thanks to his fine form in the UAE, while the left-handed Davies managed a top score of just 24 on tour