Younis willing to be grilled over team’s poor showing in NZ

Published January 21, 2021
Pakistan's batsman Younis Khan celebrates after reaching his 10,000th run in Test matches, on day three of the first Test match between West Indies and Pakistan at the Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, on April 23, 2017. — AFP/File
Pakistan's batsman Younis Khan celebrates after reaching his 10,000th run in Test matches, on day three of the first Test match between West Indies and Pakistan at the Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, on April 23, 2017. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Younis Khan was vocal in saying on Wednesday he would have faced the PCB Cricket Committee, which grilled head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis in the wake of a disastrous tour of New Zealand.

Talking to reporters during a virtual media conference here, national batting coach Younis — now in his third series after being hired for the England tour last summer — asserted he would also have faced the Saleem Yousuf-led committee.

“I wished an invitation to attend the meeting came my way because like everyone else I’m also accountable if the Pakistan team does not perform to the expectations of fans. Until and unless there is accountability how could you define your work, either good or bad? It may not matter but what matters is the goal we are all striving for. We all are here working for the betterment of Pakistan cricket,” Younis emphasised. “If I had been asked to appear [before the committee] we would have had a comprehensive discussion and I would have given my input.

“And if you think that Younis Khan failed as batting coach during the New Zealand tour, you are always entitled to question me because you are in a position to judge coaches’ performance. But I must say that when the team does well in specific areas of the game the coaches who have done a reasonable job should be highlighted and appreciated. It mustn’t be just one-way traffic because criticism for the sake of criticism leaves everyone associated with the team demoralised.”

Commenting on the new-look squad for the upcoming two-match Test series against South Africa, Younis hoped the youngsters would make Pakistan proud.

“It’s a golden opportunity for the newcomers in the South Africa series and there are nine of them in the 20-member squad,” the coach remarked. “Moreover it is ideal for them to be playing at home. Playing in familiar environment does help new players.”

When asked why Pakistan are not playing the brand of cricket India adopted during their 2-1 series win in Australia, Younis remarked: “I don’t think we should be discussing India and how their young players played fearless cricket in the Australia series because our scenario is different.

“We have already gone for wholesale changes to the team that couldn’t do well in New Zealand and back the players we have assembled for the South Africa series. On this my philosophy is simple: players require some time to settle in their respective roles, particularly in Tests. These days many of the youngsters are playing in different formats and therefore, they naturally find it hard to adjust when they are picked for cut-throat Test matches.

“I’ve repeatedly said on different forums that it’s about understanding the role given to the players and obviously it takes time in honing the skills required to perform at the international level,” he said.

“When I first played international cricket in 2000, even I struggled in that phase and had to find my way through those tough times. Then we had a crop of star players in the team and I somehow failed to get the transition from domestic to international cricket get going. It took around three to four years for me to understand what it was like playing at the top level.

“It was just not that but when I first played for Pakistan it was extremely demanding because I adopted different styles until I decided the best way to do things is in your own hands. My survival was because I trusted my game and stuck to it until the very end,” Younis stressed.

Younis said he’s excited to be given a role which he’s relishing because of the challenges and how it’s been for him to cope with players who have talent but aren’t performing to their potential.

“Since I came to the [Pakistan] team setup from the England tour, I have tried to share my experience with the current lot. But some of the players found it a bit tougher to translate the knowledge of my interaction with them and often somehow get double-minded, although I try to make it as much simpler as I could so that they don’t fall into the [double-minded] habit. Maybe there are putting too much pressure upon themselves. But they are willing to learn.

“But then again, if you overdo to the coaching part then there will be confusion among the players under your charge.”

According to Younis, the uncapped players picked for the forthcoming South Africa series should be given appropriate number of chances.

“The uncapped players we have selected for the Tests should be persisted with for at least two to three series, because that’s my desire. Contrarily, when there is frequent chopping and changing it becomes a huge challenge for the coaching staff,” he said.

“If we go in the past there were great players in the Pakistan side and some of them played together for a long time. But unfortunately we are now struggling chiefly because we are losing patience with the current players. I do wish that if some of the newcomers perform well against South Africa, they deserve a fair run because it takes time to cement a place in the team,” Younis signed off.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2021

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