Q - Saeed how do you view Pakistan's chances against England?
SA: Pretty good.We have the better side no doubt but they are a professional side and they have some good players like Gough and Thorpe, Atherton so I think it will be hard fought but we definately start out as favorites.
Q - Why is it that the English batsmen are suspect aginst spin bowling?
SA: Because they dont play here often. Look, we used to have tough times when we went to Australia because it took time for us to adjust to their wickets and the extra bounce. But we keep going there every second year almost and our performances are improving as a result.England are coming to Pakistan after 13 years for a full series.Thats too long.And we have spinners like Mushy,Saqlain and two excellent young back up spinners in Danish Kaneria and Shoaib Malik. So our bowlers are relishing the chance to bowl at them. Ofcourse we need to have helpful wickets for the spinners to do their job as well.
Q - Who is the final authority when it comes to deciding the nature of the pitch?
SA: PCB has a representative who oversees the preparation of the pitch. The Captain and Coach are consulted only after the pitch is prepared and then the groundsman roles in the grass or leaves it on depending on the wishes of the Coach.
Q - You were in excellent form hitting back to back hundreds. Are you fully recovered from your knee injury?
SA: My form is improving steadily although Im still not at my best. But the knee is not giving me too much trouble anymore.
Q - How do you see yourself 4 years from now - will you still be in the team?
SA: I think 4 years from now,this would be a very different team. Wasim would have retired by then,maybe even Waqar.I think some new allrounders would be well settled by then.As far as Im concerned, I dont intend to play till Im 38 or 40. I see myself playing for another 4 years at the most.After that,I want to move on and do something else.
Q - Do you think there are adequate replacements for Akram and Waqar?
SA: You cant replace bowlers like that over night.We have a lot of young fast bowlers who can do the job.Only time will tell how they can perform and whether they are as consistent as the W's used to be. But there is no lack of talent,and we should not have any problems because we have a lot of hard working youngsters who are just waiting for an opportunity.
Q - Tell me more about Danish Kaneria...
SA: Danish is one of our new boys.He did extremely well in the under 19 side as well as in our domestic season.He's got tremendous control and variety.I feel he's one of the most exciting prospects we have had since Shahid Afridi.He's still young and very inexperienced and will only get better with time.
Q - What's up with Shoaib Akhter?
SA: He's injured.He needs to pay more attention to his fitness in the future and work harder on improving as a bowler
Q - How would you compare Imran Nazir,Shahid Afridi and Aamir Sohail as openers?
SA: Imran is an exciting prospect but he has to work on his technique to sort out some minor flaws.Afridi has improved his game tremendously in recent times and he's starting to concentrate and work for his runs.He's more consistent and thats a good sign.Aamir is probably the better allround player.He's working on his fitness and his form,and hopefully he can make it back into the team.
Q: Are Pakistan looking for a clean sweep against England?
SA:(laughs) We'll wait and see.
******************* To be continued.