Players cannot be counselled after they become ‘stars’: Waqar Younis

Published January 4, 2016
Pakistan fielding coach Grant Luden gives a tip to cricketers during a practice session in Lahore on December 29, 2015. — AFP
Pakistan fielding coach Grant Luden gives a tip to cricketers during a practice session in Lahore on December 29, 2015. — AFP

KOLKATA: Waqar Younis feels it is easier to give lessons in etiquette to aspiring Pakistanis cricketers than expect seniors to change. After all, he said, the established players are “stars”.

It is not as if the Pakistani coach has no expectation of his senior team members; for instance, he has a specific word of advice for Umar Akmal – deliver first, demand a batting position of choice later.

For the rest of the team, Waqar says it is best to be careful when it comes to speaking to the media, as “it hurts” to learn about a grouse from the papers the next day.

Waqar was responding to a set of questions on disciplinary issues from this correspondent including talking out of turn to the media.

The former great said the team comprised “a good bunch of people” and that “as a helping hand”, he was trying to ensure “it [making loose statements] did not occur”.

‘Team is family’

According to Waqar, the ongoing camp at the Gaddafi stadium was very important to unite a team fractured by Mohammad Amir’s inclusion for the New Zealand series.

“I am sure it will help and bring them [the players] closer,” he said.

“It’s human to make mistakes, and when somebody has made mistakes and people have been forgiven, I think it’s time to move on.”

When asked specifically about players talking out of turn to the media, Waqar likened the team to a family and that it made him “feel sorry” to read about internal differences in the papers.

“This is a family environment, you are talking about family, you don’t go out and tell,” he said.

“I think the board should also look into this situation.”

Waqar also blamed the media for “blowing up” issues, saying when people lived together for three-quarters of a year, a “few odd things happen here and which is normal and common”.

At the same time, his unhappiness over players airing their views in public was obvious. “They should concentrate on the job they were given rather than talking about these things,” he said.

“As long as it stays within the walls, stays within the dressing room, it is good. But when it comes out in the media – which is so much now – then it hurts a little bit.”

Umar falls short

On the issue of Umar Akmal voicing his displeasure over his batting position to a television reporter at the last World Cup in Australia, Waqar said players “needed to be more careful”.

He was also unequivocal in saying that Akmal, who he described as a “utility cricketer”, had not able to deliver what was expected for him to make demands.

“He can be used in several numbers especially in the shorter version cricket,” Waqar said, referring to batting positions.

According to him, while a fixed batting slot was possible in Tests, it was not so for T20s – a format Umar Akmal is seen as ideal for.

“It is hard to give somebody one particular number [slot]. In 20-20, there is no such thing as numbers.”

In a T20 or an ODI, Waqar said batsmen were sent in to do a certain kind of job according to the situation of the game.

“In one dayers, I think he needs to do well to achieve that number he is demanding, or should I say, number 4,” he said. “We had tried that [slot] in Sri Lanka and it didn’t work out”.

Waqar also said anybody aspiring for numbers three or four has “to perform really well” to justify being slotted there. Umar, apparently, had not.

The youth factor

The Pakistan coach dismissed suggestions that controversial media comments were negatively impacting the team on the eve of the departure for New Zealand.

“I don’t think so,” Waqar said. “I don’t think those sort of comments will make any difference.”

And the reason, he said, was because young players were being inducted into the team.

“We are trying to develop young players, I am always in favour of bringing youngsters,” he said, without explaining how the junior players would remain unaffected.

Waqar, however, said it made more sense to offer counselling and teach players at the Under-19 of “things needed at the top level”.

“When you get Under-19 boys, I think that’s when a lot of counselling [is required], let them know what international cricket is all about ... teach them all about etiquette.”

The national coach felt that it was more difficult to teach the players when they had made the national side and had matured.

“Because here they are stars, it is hard to mould them. But I think at the under-19 level, when they have come up, they should be all trained.”

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