September 30, 2023


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Pakistan tour diaries: Wasim Khan sits on my handbag as former Australian quick Shaun Tait joins the PCB

Sporting News’ Melinda Farrell is on the ground in Pakistan with the Australian Test team.

Wasim Khan sat on my handbag

The only thing I can say in my defence is that I was preoccupied with work.

After enjoying a cup of coffee in the lobby cafe at my Lahore hotel, I raced back to my room to log on to a media Zoom call and left my handbag sitting on my chair.

Soon after, to appropriate Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, of all the cafes in all the towns in all the world, Wasim Khan walked into mine. And promptly sat on the seat I had just vacated.

The former PCB Chief Executive wondered why his cushion was so uncomfortable before realising it was not a cushion. The bag was open and an envelope with my name written on it was poking out the top.

A phone call left this reporter both red-faced and grateful to be reunited with said handbag and all its contents.

Khan, who was a key figure in instigating Australia’s tour of Pakistan, has set up a global MBA in the Business of Sport and Lahore University of Management Sciences (the main business school in Pakistan) is one of the Universities running with it.

He’s been delivering lectures to their students but the fortuitous visit gives him the chance to enjoy a series he championed before his resignation from the PCB last year. The former Chief Executive hopes to return to cricket administration in the near future.

Meanwhile, your correspondent has vowed to be more careful with her belongings. 

Pitch invasion

After the first two Tests were drawn, it’s no surprise the Gaddafi Stadium pitch is drawing a lot of attention.

During the first training session, the Australian players descended en masse to conduct their own pitch inspections, with a number of them dropping on their hands and knees to get a closer look.

australia pakistan

On the previous day, PCB Chair Ramiz Raja was spotted out in the middle casting his own eye over the pitch and having extensive discussions with the ground staff.

The Rawalpindi pitch used for the first Test was handed a below average rating by the ICC and the National Stadium failed to break up in the final two days of the second Test.

Both sides are hopeful the pitch will be conducive to a result but Lahore has a reputation of producing draws. If looks are anything to go by, the final Test could be another hard slog for the bowlers.

The Wild Thing joins Team Green

Shaun Tait has joined the Pakistan camp in his new role as fast bowling coach.

The former Australian quick has signed a twelve month deal with the PCB, the most significant deal of his young coaching career.

Tait retired five years ago and has been busy sharpening up his coaching resume via a number of short term stints, including with the Melbourne Renegades and, most recently, Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is known for some very good things and one of them is producing fast bowlers,” Tait told the media in the first press conference since arriving in Pakistan.

“As far as being a fast-bowling coach for a team, this is as good as it gets, working with some great talent. Obviously, they have had quite a bit of experience, but they’re also very young.

“So just getting to know them the last week or so and finding out how they tick going forward now is going to be exciting and, hopefully, I can help them out there.”

Tait was due to join the squad before the start of the series but his arrival was delayed after his father passed away.

Tracking down the chandelier of shame

The hotel accommodating both the teams and some of the travelling media was also used during the recently concluded PSL and the location of James Faulkner’s infamous exit from the T20 tournament.

Faulkner left the PSL abruptly after a row with the PCB over pay and was alleged to have thrown his bat and helmet into one of the giant chandeliers that hang over the hotel lobby.

The PCB denied Faulkner’s accusation that they had not honoured his contract and slammed his conduct as “reprehensible”.

It’s no understatement to say Faulkner is not spoken of highly in Pakistan cricket circles following the incident.

After examining photos in an effort to identify the specific chandelier in question, two things are certain; it would take an almighty effort to launch any cricket kit far enough to land on the impressive light fixtures and, should you miss, it would not be pleasant for anyone in the lobby below.

The Simulated Masters heats up

Several Australian players managed to get a round of golf in on Friday, with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland and Mark Steketee joining support staff in a welcome round outside the confines of the team hotel at the Lahore Gymkhana Golf Club.

But the really serious competition is happening indoors, where the golf simulator tournament has reached the play-off stages and it’s come down to a battle of the quicks.

The semi-finals will see Steketee take on Mitchell Starc, while Hazlewood and Cummins face off in what’s expected to be a fierce, no holds barred contest.

Mitchell Starc

Pool tournament

But forget the players, dear readers. The most ferociously competitive competition in Lahore involves the travelling press, who have discovered a sports bar with a pool table in their hotel.

In between watching the West Indies Test against England on the big screen, the hustlers have been chalking their cues and talking a big game after closing their laptops at the end of the day.

Leading the pack by some margin is Tom ‘The Shark’ Decent, representing the Sydney Morning Herald, although he has been foiled on a number of occasions by some jammy money balls from Cricbuzz’s Bharat ‘Beastie Boy’ Sundaresan and SEN’s Geoff ‘Big Slicer’ Lemon.

Pete ‘The Marackville Mauler’ from the Australian and SEN’s Adam ‘Pot Black Skinny Jeans’ Collins spend most of their time arguing the toss over Sydney versus Melbourne rules, yours truly, Mel ‘Hot Hands’ Farrell has been flying the flag for The Sporting News.

There’s every chance the arguments over whether two shots are allowed could escalate into a full-blown press box dust up.

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