Pathan can be an outstanding all-rounder: Steve Waugh


Perth : Former Australia captain Steve Waugh is highly impressed with left-handed Irfan Pathan, who he says, has the potential to become an outstanding Test match all-rounder.

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Waugh stated in his syndicated column that the poise the 23-year-old player from Baroda showed to bat throughout the first session Friday confirmed this.

“When I first saw him four years ago I marvelled at the way he could swing the ball both ways and it has been surprising to see him dropped because of poor form and only appear for the third Test of the series,” he wrote.

“But it is a recurring problem in India for youngsters such as Pathan to become flooded with rich sponsorships when they hit the big time, become a bit star struck by it all, then stop doing the little things that got them there in the first place.”

Referring to Yuvraj Singh, the former skipper says, is an obvious example as he lost his way after the stardom of hitting six sixes in a Twenty20 match and simply does not look the finished article as an international player.

Time out of the side has given Pathan more balance in life and hardened his game.

Waugh noticed a poignant moment Friday when Pathan and V.V.S. Laxman were batting together and a quick single was on offer.

Pathan, very much the new model Indian player taught to scramble for every single, took off while Laxman was leaning on his bat. Somehow they made it, but it spotlighted the difference between the way things have been and the way they must be if India are to fulfil their potential.

“Laxman and Sourav Ganguly are notorious for falling asleep when they are at the non-striker’s end, tactics which can cost you in a Test like this where every run is a gold bar.”

Australia prey on the poor body language generated by slack running.

Waugh is in the Shaun Tait corner, defending the young fast bowler in his column. He says there is nothing wrong with Tait’s bowling, he just lacks bowling and obviously he is down on confidence.

“Critics may be sharpening their knives for Shaun Tait but it is important Australia do not lose faith in him,” he wrote.

“One of the problems in choosing a four-man pace attack is that the No. 4 bowler, especially if he is the man out of form, can tend to get the thin edge of the wedge.”

The former Australian captain said he always found it very difficult managing an attack overstocked with fast or slow men.

“It’s very hard to give everyone enough bowling, the end they like to bowl from or the ball when it is nice and hard. The fourth man knows he is constantly under pressure and tends to try to force things too much,” he said.

“If three quicks are bowling well there is normally no need for a fourth and, as we have seen in this Test, the over rate becomes a captain’s nightmare.”

Waugh hopes Tait’s worth is not judged on one Test because with an extended run he is sure he’ll produce the goods.

Brett Lee, Waugh finds, is becoming more like Glenn McGrath every day.

“You could always throw McGrath the ball in key pressure moments and he would somehow conjure up a wicket, and Lee did this Friday with his first session extractions of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar,” he said.

“The joy of the successes would have been accentuated for Lee because both were long-time team plans. Tendulkar trapped on the crease lbw and Dravid nibbling outside off-stump.”

Waugh also praised Lee for his efforts.

If the game had got away from Australia in the first session yesterday it was over. Lee made sure it never happened. Despite the draining heat of the day before he emerged fresh, relaxed and full of energy, a reward for all those hours of off-season training.”