Lawson flies home with mixed memories

October 31st, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Oct 31 (IANS) Sacked Pakistani coach Geoff Lawson Friday flew out of Pakistan to his home at Sydney with mixed memories. The former Australian pacer is happy to be at the helm of an ‘enormously talented team’ for about 16 months but regrets on being forced to leave it ‘prematurely’. Lawson took a flight to return to Australia, more than a week after he was sacked by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) over poor results.

“I am sorry to be leaving these guys,” Lawson said. “I took the assignment with lot of enthusiasm. I just needed to get a few more pieces of the puzzle together but now I won’t get a chance to do that,” he was quoted as saying in an interview, a day before his departure.

“But I think I am probably much better off than a lot of other people. I get paid out and I get to go home. There are so many other staff who have been sacked or are leaving and I don’t think they got paid an awful lot,” he stressed.

Lawson, 50, was appointed as Pakistan coach last summer following Pakistan’s embarrassing exit from the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. He succeeded former England Test batsman Bob Woolmer, who died in mysterious circumstances in Kingston, a day after Pakistan lost to minnows Ireland in their crucial World Cup game.

Lawson made quite a few fans in Pakistan by helping the national team reach the final of the World Twenty20 Championship in South Africa but that was the only high point of his stint. Under him, Pakistan lost back-to-back Test and one-day series against South Africa and India last year and also failed to reach the final of the six-nation Asia Cup on home soil.

A quadrangular Twenty20 event in Canada earlier this month where Pakistan fell to Sri Lanka in the final turned out to be Lawson’s swansong as the former Australia Test pacer was sacked by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt, just days after the team returned home from Toronto.

Lawson’s sacking was welcomed by several ex-Test cricketers, who’ve been advocating the appointing of a home-grown coach. The PCB obliged by naming former Pakistan Test captain Intikhab Alam as the new coach.

However, there was also criticism of the unceremonious axing of Lawson with former Pakistan captain Imran Khan and many others disapproving the manner in which it was done.

Pakistan opener Salman Butt recently spoke up for Lawson, saying a coach alone cannot be blamed for the team’s defeats and dip in performances.

“I sympathise with him because he couldn’t complete his contract. Lawson was not an experienced coach but he was a gentleman and the team enjoyed the time with him,” Butt said Thursday.

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