Waqar throws his weight behind Misbah

Updated September 21, 2019

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Newly-appointed bowling coach Waqar Younis. — Photo courtesy PCB/File
Newly-appointed bowling coach Waqar Younis. — Photo courtesy PCB/File

LAHORE: Newly-appointed bowling coach Waqar Younis, who previously worked twice as national team’s head coach, on Friday said he would fully support incumbent head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, and was willing to work under his guidance for improving Pakistan cricket.

“When you work under a head coach you have to work under his guidelines. Therefore, like other supporting staff I will also work under Misbah and we all will try our best to give the head coach our full support,” Waqar told reporters during the national training camp here at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Waqar, 47, who acted as national team’s head coach from 2010-2011 and then from 2014-2016 besides remaining the bowling coach in 2006-2007 and 2009, said: “It does not matter if you have come down or you are up as it is just myth. However, the main purpose of all of us is to serve Pakistan and to make its cricket better.”

LAHORE: Pakistan players in action during a practice match in the training camp at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.—M.Arif/White Star
LAHORE: Pakistan players in action during a practice match in the training camp at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.—M.Arif/White Star

Asked when he left the PCB in 2016 he had said that he would not work with the PCB again, what inspired him to again join it, Waqar said many things had changed in the past three years.

“A new set-up is at the helm, new system [regional to provincial] has been introduced plus other initiatives are also being taken, so the time has changed,” said Waqar, a veteran of 87 Tests in which he took 373 wickets at a highly impressive average of 23.56.

Waqar said though he had developed good chemistry with Misbah — as most of his work as head coach was with Misbah who then was national captain — even then they in future might have different ways of thinking on various subjects.

“My role is simple, I have performed as head coach and bowling coach so I have the idea, I know what I have to do. I also know Misbah’s mindset as he as captain has worked with me. Though there may be difference in thinking. Misbah I believe is passionate about cricket, his mindset is good and he is an honest person and we all have to support him at the maximum,” Waqar emphasised.

When asked where Pakistan cricket would stand if the new experience of giving dual role to Misbah failed, Waqar said negative thoughts should be shunned.

“Don’t think negatively, we should think positively. It [dual role] is not a new formula in the world of cricket. Negative voices from media may not give any positive to Pakistan cricket so all the stakeholders should think with a positive mindset,” he maintained.

To a question, Waqar said a couple of bowlers had impressed him but added that “it is not the right time for me to disclose their names”.

Responding to a query, Waqar refuted that he in the past had said both Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad should be kept away from Pakistan cricket.

“I had only suggested that both [players] should play more domestic cricket to further improve their skills and then they can make a comeback into the national side. Pakistan team is not of any [specific] individual; everyone who performs deserves the right to get a place in the team,” said Waqar, who captured 416 ODI wickets in 262 games at a fine 23.84.

It may be mentioned that in 2016 Waqar left the PCB protesting that his confidential report on Umar and Shehzad had been leaked to the media.

To a question, Waqar said Sarfraz Ahmed was the most experienced player as captain available to Pakistan. “He should lead the team in shorter versions and rest is the job of PCB chairman to also appoint him captain for Test cricket.”

It may be mentioned here that during Waqar’s 2014-16 stint as head coach, Sarfraz was struggling to claim a place in the national squad as Mohammad Rizwan was the head coach’s first-choice wicket-keeper. However after Waqar’s exit in 2016, Sarfraz made a remarkable entry into international cricket. And later in phases he was installed as captain of all three formats.

To a question, Waqar said nobody should compare one era to another.

“Look, we often talk about Pakistan team’s successes during the 1990s. However, the reality is that consistency in performance lacked at that time too.

“Now with new generation of players we won the 2009 World T20 and then the 2017 Champions Trophy but consistency is again lacking and that is a big problem to be dealt with,” Waqar said.

Meanwhile, Waqar welcomed the Sri Lankan government’s decision of giving permission to its team to tour Pakistan, and hoped the other cricket-playing nations would follow suit.

“And these [two] victories were recorded when international cricket was not being played in Pakistan.”

Commenting on the ongoing national training camp at the Gaddafi Stadium, Waqar said though hot weather still prevailed in Lahore, the camp was progressing well with added emphasis on physical fitness, which he said was a key grey area of Pakistan cricket.

Waqar revealed he was planning to shift from Australia to Pakistan in the near future to spend more time in coaching players at junior level too during off-season.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019