Pakistan to rebuild cricket team after defeat, Woolmer murder
Mar 31, 2007, 12:23 GMT
Islamabad - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Nasim Ashraf on Saturday made an impassioned pledge to revamp the national team and cricket culture following the recent World Cup defeat in West Indies and the unsolved murder of coach Bob Woolmer.
Announcing his board's reconstitution, Ashraf told journalists in the city of Lahore that contracts of all the players now stood suspended and new performance-based agreements would be signed within the next three months.
'Everything our whole nation is feeling about the debacle in the West Indies is justified,' Asraf said after an outpouring of shock and anger at home amid rumours of match-fixing and Woolmer's possible intention to blow the whistle on intrigues behind the scenes.
The chairman stressed that there would also now be special emphasis on mental toughness and improved physical condition of players, who have been criticised for putting their own interests and financial status before the game itself.
The national team came under severe criticism after its March 17 humiliation by the Irish team that also prevented Pakistan from clearing the championship's initial round in Jamaica.
The defeat was immediately overshadowed the next day after Pakistani coach Woolmer was found unconscious in his room and later pronounced dead in hospital. After five days of investigation police announced they were treating his death as homicide.
While acknowledging that Pakistan was in the spotlight as one of its team members died, Ashraf said, 'We were not suspects or anything of that nature, we were witnesses and recording witness statements like everybody else.
'We want to get to the truth, our team members are innocent,' he stressed.
'We have to find the people who did this ... but this investigation is not an easy investigation,' said Ashrad, praising the efforts of the Jamaican police and the treatment of the Pakistani team and management.
Woolmer's funeral was due to take place in Cape Town in South Africa where the PCB chairman said he would represent his team and country.
Long-term cricketing plans announced by Ashraf included the selection of 25 children below the age of 13 through a national talent hunt and their grooming for future stardom during a state-financed education in Lahore where the PCB has its headquarters.
'This will be the nucleus from which the Pakistani cricket team will emerge,' he observed terming the talk about the demise of Pakistani cricket 'grossly exaggerated.'
Promising massive investment in the development of youth cricket, Ashraf noted that one billion rupees (more than 16 million US dollars) would also be invested for the development of grounds and pitches across the country.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur