Mushtaq bids to explain Pakistan’s nightmare

PAKISTAN assistant coach Mushtaq Ahmed has become the first member of the World Cup party to appear before a performance evaluation committee.

The three-member committee, headed by former Test cricketer Ijaz Butt and including Test cricketers Saleem Altaf and Salahuddin Sallu, began its investigation into the team’s failure on Tuesday by holding their first formal meeting at the board’s headquarters in Lahore.

According to reports, Mushtaq, a former Test leg-spinner, answered a number of questions during an hour-long session.

Later, an official statement was issued stating that Mushtaq, who is playing for Sussex this year, had requested he be called first as he has to leave for England in a couple of days.

Mushtaq was asked about the reasons for the debacle in the West Indies, where Pakistan failed to reach the Super Eight stage and lost to Ireland.

Former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq — who led Pakistan during the tournament — and other members of the squad are also set to appear before the committee.

Mushtaq told reporters that he could only apologise for the performance of the team in the first round.

He said: “There is no excuse for the poor performance which has really disappointed the nation and I can only apologise to the public for that.”

He claimed the team’s preparations and planning had been excellent but they failed to deliver on the field.

Meanwhile Ireland coach Adrian Birrell is hoping a six-day break will help his side recharge for the clash against New Zealand on Monday.

Birrell said that his players looked “a bit jaded” against South Africa despite their battling display in Tuesday’s seven-wicket defeat.

“The constant cricket is taking its toll,” said Birrell.

“I think that they need to recharge before we play our next game.”

Elsewhere Australia coach John Buchanan is plotting the “virtual elimination” of England from the World Cup this weekend.

Buchanan is wary of the threat posed by a team he describes as playing on the “razor’s edge” of knockout cricket. But he knows that if the world champions beat the old enemy at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Sunday it will take three straight victories — and some favourable results elsewhere — for England to remain in the equation for the semi-finals.

“England are playing knockout cricket — every game for them is a knockout — which puts a razor’s edge on their team and puts them on the razor’s edge,” said Buchanan. “That will mean they will come really well prepared to compete. I think it will be an exceptional contest.”

It is an exceptional contest Australia are intent on winning because the prize is not only two more Super Eight points, but big trouble for England.

“If we manage to come out on top we virtually eliminate another side from the tournament, and that’s pretty important,” said Buchanan.

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