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Is Moin Khan's Test career over?

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    Is Moin Khan's Test career over?


    The signs from the Pakistan Cricket Board headquarters at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore indicate that Moin Khan may not only have played his last game as skipper, but that the Christchurch Test may have been his last representative game for Pakistan.

    "Now that he is out for six weeks there is no way that he could be retained as captain," a Pakistan Cricket Board official told CricInfo on conditions of anonymity. But Moin might have found it hard to hang on to the job even if he wasn't incapacitated by a knee injury. Did he see the writing on the wall, and think that this was the best way to go?

    The suspicion that Moin may have played his last game for Pakistan is based on several factors. PCB officials are said to be sick to their bones by the selection squabbles allegedly sparked by Moin, which have often seemed unreasonable to the selectors.

    There is also a perception on the Board that Moin's preferences and his handling of the team were responsible for defeat against England, in the one-day series against the Kiwis and a less than convincing show in the recent Second Test at Christchurch.

    "The least a captain can do is be fair, with the Board and with the players, and there was a growing feeling amongst the Board officials that Moin was not even-handed in his judgements," the official alleged.

    It's also claimed that Moin dragged the PCB into a "Cola War" by leading a clutch of players in a Coke media promotion that annoyed Pepsi, the official sponsors, as well as the Board itself. It was seen as a manifestation of "player power" not least because it appeared hot on the heels of several stories alleging that the players were perturbed over the financial arrangements of coach Javed Miandad.

    This resulting air of distrust in the Board, and the belief that the captain was fostering player power, may already have already sealed Moin's fate, and indeed his departure was being predicted here as far back as March 4th. His sacking is now more or less a foregone conclusion, and it is clear that there is much excitement about his young replacement, Humayun Farhat.

    Humayun, who has followed his brother Imran as a debutant at Hamilton, is looking good behind the stumps and even better in front. The brothers may now have the chance to prove their credentials at international level.

    The important question for Pakistan is: does Inzamam fit the bill as skipper? Board officials privately concede that he may not be an ideal choice, and is being thrust upon them just as Moin was when Wasim Akram was banned after the Qayyum Report. Of the other options, Saeed Anwar is not seen as a natural leader, Waqar Younis is no longer an automatic selection, and Yousuf Youhana, Abdur Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood are all considered too inexperienced.

    While there are reservations about Inzamam, his consistency as a player, especially since he was made vice-captain, counts in his favour. Feedback also suggests that his evaluations of players and situations in the PCB boardrooms have been honest and erudite. For all his batting prowess, Inzamam has not been considered to be the ultimate cricket tactician. But his laid-back style, and appearance of being unruffled whatever the situation, may turn the wheel in his favour.



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