Wasim Bari Talks
to Late Cut
By Farhan Aziz
Wasim Bari, Pakistan's most celebrated
wicketkeeper, a former
captain, and a member of a distinguished and feared
Pakistan unit during the 70's and 80's played 81
Tests, capturing 228 victims. His record of matches
played by a keeper and scalps behind the stumps,
still stands as a Pakistan record, two decades after
he retired from international cricket. Wasim Bari's
passion for cricket has not faded as he now assumes
one of the most important roles in Pakistan cricket
as the Chairman of Selectors. Wasim Bari took time
out of his busy schedule to speak exclusively to
Farhan Aziz and Late Cut.
Wasim bhai, have you ever been to California
and do you know about the Southern California Cricket
I have been a frequent traveler to Northern California
as well as Southern California since 1968. My brother
lives in San Jose, and my sister lives in Orange
County. My last trip to Southern California was
quite recently, in December 2005. I have heard about
the cricket league in Southern California before
and I am very pleased that cricket has a base in
Southern California. Inshallah, I hope to visit
Woodley on my next trip out.
You retired from cricket in the mid-80's.
How have you kept yourself busy since retiring?
I have kept myself in touch with cricket through
cricket administration. I have been involved in
selection actively for the last eight years. I also
work for PIA, the national carrier, as a senior
You have played 81 tests and over 50 ODI's.
What has been your fondest cricketing memory?
My fondest memory has to be my debut test match
at Lords in 1967 (July 27) against England. It was
special not only because it was my first match,
but because it was at the most prestigious cricket
center, Lords! I still remember diving to my right
to get my first international scalp: Colin Milburn.
In this same game, Hanif bhai (Mohammed) made a
fantastic 187 not out.
And what is your worst cricketing memory?
During our 1976-77 tour of the West Indies, a group
of us decided to swim along the Barbados coastline.
We experienced unusually strong currents, and I
almost never made it back as I was very close to
Which cricketer(s) has been your favorite
to watch from the past? And the present?
There are a number of cricketers I have enjoyed
playing with and against, but Viv Richards still
remains one of my favorite cricketers of the past.
Shane Warne is a warrior and I have enjoyed watching
him play as well.
I am sure you get this question a lot, but
how difficult is it to head the selection committee
in a country where 9 out of 10 people have opinions?
It is a very difficult and thankless job. Luckily,
I have excellent support from Iqbal Qasim and Ehtisham
Uddin, both of whom are invaluable in our process.
We are all committed to ensuring that this process
remains impartial and every decision we make is
a collective decision. With that said, we realize
that not everyone will be happy with out decisions.
I guess that headache comes with the job!
What is your relationship like with your
selection committee? How do you handle disagreements?
I like to manage by consensus, and I would like
to think that our collective decisions are honest,
and free of prejudice. All three of us are pretty
level headed and rarely do we disagree with each
other. If there is a disagreement, then we utilize
a veto-less majority vote.
What is your relationship like with Bob
Woolmer and Inzimam?
We have a friendly and professional relationship.
I have a lot of respect for Bob and Inzi. They are
both doing a wonderful job.
Is there added pressure on you as the chief
No. We are professional in our approach, applying
reason/logic in our decisions. This helps keep our
What differences do you see between cricket
today and back when you played for Pakistan?
Cricket is a lot more commercial now than when we
played. It is like running a business, and is played
all year round. The number of games being played
in one calendar year today are easily more than
double the number we played. Obviously, there are
pros and cons to this, however the pros easily outnumber
What are your thoughts on the state of Pakistan
While everyone is fixated on the World Cup, I and
my committee have to plan beyond that date. We are
at an interesting crossroads - the 2007 World Cup
will certainly be a crucial juncture with perhaps
a final hurrah for some of our veterans who may
retire. Replacing seasoned veterans is never easy,
but that is a challenge for us. Luckily, we have
a talented pool of cricketers to choose from.
Currently, our system of developing players involves
our first class competitions and our academy. Players
moving from school and grade cricket levels, usually
find a home with a first class team. Good performances
at the first class level are usually rewarded with
an invitation to our world-class academy and to
side tours with the Pakistan A and U19 teams. While
our current system is not perfect, and we recognize
the need to emphasize proper coaching at the school
and grade level, our talent pool has increased considerably
due to increased first class competitions, as well
as through our academy. In line with our strategy
to enhance our system of developing cricketers,
we must also improve our facilities (quality of
grounds, and pitches) and the quality of umpiring.
The PCB is progressing well in all its efforts,
and I sincerely believe that the future looks bright.
We are very curious to know who you think
are future prospects for Pakistan?
There are number of youngsters who are promising.
Some of the names that come to mind are: Mansoor
Amjad, Irshad, Tahir Khan, Rehman, Yasir Arafat,
Ali Anwar, Imran Tahir, and Shahid Yousuf. They
are all exciting young players that may progress
to a higher level if they continue to work hard
on their game.
Everyone wants to know what your thoughts
are on Pakistan's preparations for the World Cup
Over the course of the past 18 months, Pakistan
has achieved favorable results against quality teams.
This is certainly reassuring; however, we understand
that we have weaknesses that must be addressed.
Fielding, fitness, and a reliable opening pair are
our weaknesses. The boys and the team management
will work hard to rectify these areas of concern.
I am confident that we will overcome these issues
in time for the World Cup, Inshallah.
What do you think has been Pakistan's secret
in achieving their recent successes?
A combination of factors including consistency and
fairness in the selection process, and working closely
with team management to identify needs, and weaknesses.
Obviously, we cannot forget the hard work put in
by our boys.
The current fad on the world cricket stage
is 20-20 cricket. What are your thoughts on this
form of the game?
20-20 cricket is fun and fast, which makes it exciting
to watch for the fans. It truly is cricket designed
for the fans.
Before I ask my final question, I want to thank
you for your time and for your candid responses.
Here's a question on behalf of our younger audience:
What advise would you give youngsters here
in California who are looking to make a name in
Discipline and dedication are key ingredients to
achieving your goals on and off the cricket field.
You should practice hard in the nets, listen to
your coaches, and apply what you learn in the nets
with conviction. Discipline and dedication will
ensure that you don't repeat mistakes.