LAHORE: While giving a mixed reaction to the statements made by his critics, Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis on Wednesday said things would get better soon and hoped the team would fare well in the forthcoming home series against South Africa.
“It is easy to say anything for anyone while sitting outside. I have been [both] head coach and bowling coach of the Pakistan team twice; it is because I have some guts in me and therefore I am standing here [as bowling coach],” former speedster Waqar said during a press conference here on Wednesday.
“Things will soon get better. I love my job and I think I am right on my target in solving our bowlers’ problems with the red and white ball. [After these problems are solved] you [critics] will be saying ‘very well done’,” the 49-year old pace bowling icon added.
To another question, however, Waqar sounded lenient towards his critics, saying they should speak out because when they do so “it provides me with an opportunity to note and remove the mistakes”.
Pakistan on their recently-concluded New Zealand tour lost both the Test (0-2) and Twenty20 (1-2) series. The tourists flopped badly in all departments of the game as their regular captain and batting sensation Babar Azam missed both the series due to a thumb injury.
Interestingly, while Waqar took up the stance that he was well on target and knew the problems of his bowlers, the PCB cricket committee after its meeting held here on Tuesday in its observations said the committee unanimously agreed that the national team’s backroom staff needed to provide absolute clarity on their collective strategy and approach so that they (backroom staff) could be evaluated against those objectives at the next meeting.
Waqar said the New Zealand tour was very difficult, particularly in the backdrop of the Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is not easy to spend such a long period in a room for quarantine as medically it is proven that if you remain in a room for even one day you lose the strength of your muscles,” he said.
“Despite this challenge, our bowlers did a good job in New Zealand and I am proud of them.
“We played the first Test quite well and fought back but we committed some mistakes, including dropping catches and bowling no-balls. Therefore, the end results were not in our favour,” he underlined.
Waqar was optimistic about an improved performance by Pakistan in the upcoming home series against South Africa starting later this month.
To a question, Waqar emphasised it was wrong to say that he left the team after the first Test in New Zealand to spend some time with his family in Pakistan.
“I could not meet my family for the last seven months [due to Covid-19 restrictions] and I had already informed the PCB that I will not attend the second Test to spend time with my family. Cricket is not the end of the world in life as other things are also important,” the bowling coach maintained.
It may be mentioned that Pakistan lost the second Test by a massive margin of an innings and 176 runs in Christchurch.
To a question about pacer Mohammad Amir’s statement against Waqar while announcing his retirement from international cricket in dejection after he was not picked for the tour of New Zealand, Waqar said he was disappointed by the left-armer’s statement.
“I was pained by Amir’s statement. It is unfortunate that he gave such a statement and the way he made the exit from [international] cricket. He is a wonderful cricketer and I always advocated his case before Najam Sethi [previous PCB chairman]. I also talked to [national team] players when he staged a comeback in 2016 to welcome him back [after the 2010 spot-fixing scandal],” Waqar elaborated.
Insisting that in international cricket a player had to consistently perform well, Waqar said if Amir had lost form he needed to return to first-class cricket in order to regain his place in the national team.
On his appearance before the PCB cricket committee on Tuesday, Waqar said he appreciated the session.
“It was a good experience as sitting among cricketers and giving answers to cricket-related questions was a good opportunity and such a meeting should be held frequently,” the coach remarked.
Commenting on Nasim Shah whose performance remained quite ordinary throughout the New Zealand tour, Waqar hoped the right-arm pacer would mature soon noting Australian bowlers also matured usually after two or three years time.
“Nasim will be a major force of Pakistan’s pace attack in future. Presently, he is quite young and after developing stronger bones he will be in the list of major bowlers,” Waqar stated.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021