LAHORE: Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower believes right-hand batsmen Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad haven’t used their talent wisely and need to focus on the game more to improve it.
“I think they [Umar and Shehzad] will be the first to admit that they haven’t used their talent wisely,” said Flower. “In professional sports, if you take shortcuts, you get found out in the long run. I think they are still good enough to do well but they have to stay fit and give their 100% focus on the game and getting big scores for their country.”
Former Zimbabwe batsman then commented on Shehzad’s loss of confidence after he was struck by a bouncer in New Zealand and said it is difficult to rebuild the same poise but he has to do it for a better future.
“It takes a lot to get your confidence back,” said Flower. “All he can do is practise hard against short balls to find the right balance. He was definitely affected [by the hit] and lost confidence. It can happen to anyone. He has to be honest with himself and find out how to play without fear again.”
Flower added: “When he was dropped from the Asia Cup squad, he was angry. He played without fear in the Pakistan Super League as the pressure was off. He needs to do that in international cricket. He has to re-examine his practice routines and do more taxing drills that are more reflective of international standards.”
Former Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis once suggested that Shehzad needs to spend more time in the nets like Indian batsman Virat Kohli to win his confidence back but Flower thinks Shehzad will have to find his own way of doing it.
“You can always learn from the greats, but I think it’s most important for him to find his own way,” said Flower. “He admitted to me to the other day that he is trying. He can make things simpler for himself by getting his on-field stuff right through his lifestyle and making good decisions, getting the right preparation, getting the fitness drill right and his attitude.”
The 45-year-old said Pakistani players are not giving their 100% in practice sessions and during camps which is causing the team to lack behind international standards.
“I think at the time they go on to the field they try a 100% percent, but they are not playing at their 100% ability,” said Flower. “If you go back to the preparation, in the camps they are not putting in all the effort that can get them to a certain level. A lot of camps end up curtailed. The camps are not long enough and intensive enough.”
Flower was also unsure if the players trained as hard as the best players in the world.
“You can make excuses at a certain level, but players eventually have to look at themselves for the answers. Sometime I wonder if the guys are being professional enough. I’m not sure if they train as hard as the other best players in the world,” he commented.