LONDON - Former Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has advised the team’s pace spearhead Umar Gul to take a break from cricket after the bowler turned in an average performance in South Africa’s 3-0 whitewash of Misbah-ul-Haq’s men.

Lawson, a former Australia quick, was also of the view that Pakistan left it too late to travel to South Africa and were clearly found wanting in alien conditions. “I was surprised. The international calendar is extremely busy these days. A lot of teams seem to go into series without too much preparation. The Australians did the right thing in sending some players to India ahead of the main touring party but even then they never got to grips with the spinning track in the opening Test,” Lawson said in an interview with Pakpassion.net.

“With Pakistan not having played Test cricket for so long, they should have arranged three warm-up games in South Africa before the first Test match. I’m not quite sure of the scheduling issues or what the PCB had in mind but purely from a cricketing perspective, you would need three warm-up games preferably of two to four days in length to allow everyone to settle in and get the batsmen used to the pitches and the bowlers to bowl the right lengths. ”

On Gul he said: “I expected Gul to do very well in South Africa. He’s been terrific for a long time now and it’s not as if he’s been out of form lately. However, I get the feeling he’s burned out and as a result he’s looking jaded. There haven’t been many experienced quick bowlers around him of late and Gul looks tired. Perhaps he needs a month or two away from the game to recharge his batteries and to re-energise him both physically and mentally.”

Lawson was hopeful about Pakistan pace prospects of whom Junaid Khan, in the first Test, Rahat Ali and M Irfan were good in patches. “As usual with Pakistani pace bowlers, they showed a tremendous amount of talent and they can all bowl great deliveries, overs and spells but it’s all about consistency over the course of a Test match.”

He was supportive of under-fire captain Misbah and backed him despite the 3-0 thumping. “It’s harsh to judge Misbah just on the South African Test series as the opposition bowling was of the highest calibre. His best days were probably when he wasn’t given the opportunities at international level that he should have been given. However, he’s done brilliantly to hang in there at his age, especially given that really there’s only Sachin Tendulkar who is playing Test cricket at a similar age to Misbah.”