As one of the longest-serving officials of Pakistan cricket, Intikhab Alam has seen it all — the good, bad and the ugly.
The former Pakistan captain’s association with national cricket spans over six decades, first as a player and later in the capacities of a coach, manager and administrator.
He was part of the Pakistan squad that won the 1992 World Cup in Australia and then witnessed the Greenshirts’ triumph in the World Twenty20 championship in England in 2009.
He seems to be back again as he was present at The Oval last week when Pakistan recorded a series-levelling victory in the fourth and final Test against England.
Intikhab has mostly been a lucky charm for Pakistan, but the 74-year-old believes that all that luck streams from the hard work which the players are ready to put in.
“This tour is going smoothly both on and off the field, because our team’s performance has generally been good,” Intikhab told ‘The News’ on Friday, a day after Pakistan butchered Ireland by 255 runs in the first of their two One-day Internationals at Malahide.
“What happens on the tour is directly linked to how the team performs. If the team is not doing well then it’s easy for it to get embroiled in some kind of trouble.
“But thankfully, our boys have been giving their best on this tour and the results are showing,” said Intikhab, who played 47 Tests for Pakistan during 1959-77.
Pakistan have generally received very favourable reviews from the British media, apparently in contrast to the previous reviews on their previous visits to the British isles.
Many have attributed the calming influence to their inspirational captain Misbah-ul-Haq for the turnaround.
While Intikhab praised Misbah for his impressive leadership, he emphasised that such good fortune is only possible coupled with team effort.
“No success story is a one-man show,” he said. “It’s a team game and I must say that our boys have been really disciplined. There have been valuable contributions from everywhere — the captain, the senior players, the coaches and the supporting staff. All of them have chipped in and that’s the reason why it has been good for us so far.”
Pakistan did well to square the Tests series 2-2 against England and have switched to the One-day International format with a bang in Ireland.
But after taking on Ireland in the second and last ODI here on Saturday (today), Pakistan will lock horns with a formidable English side in a full limited-over series in England, which will include five one-dayers and a one-off Twenty20 International.
Languishing at number nine in the ODI rankings, Pakistan desperately need good results in the 50-over format in the coming days to avoid the ignominy of playing in the qualifying rounds for World Cup 2019.
Intikhab is confident that his team will change its ODI fortunes.
“We are a far better team than the (ODI) rankings suggest,” he said. “The team did well in Tests and is confident that they will not disappoint in ODI games.”
Intikhab said the arrival of head coach Mickey Arthur has greatly benefitted the Pakistan team.
“Mickey has brought a new structure and is pushing the team hard and the good thing is that the boys are responding positively,” he said.
Arthur, who formerly coached South Africa and Australia, replaced Waqar Younis as Pakistan’s head coach ahead of the twin tour of England and Ireland.
“They need to give him (Arthur) more time. There are a lot of new boys but I’m sure that under his guidance they will get acquainted.”