With the 2021 T20 World Cup a little over a month away, Pakistan cricket received a major shock on Monday as their head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis resigned from their positions effective immediately.
Misbah, who had tested positive for Covid-19 at the conclusion of the team's tour of the Caribbean last month and forced to quarantine in Jamaica, cited bio-secure bubbles as the reason behind his decision to quit.
As per a press release issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), he said: "The quarantine in Jamaica post the West Indies series provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the past 24 months as well as the schedule for international cricket ahead. Considering that I would have had to continue to spend considerable time away from my family and that too in a bio-secure environment, I have decided to step down from the role.
“I understand that the timing may not be ideal but I don’t think I am in the right frame of mind for the upcoming challenges and it makes sense for someone fresh to step in and take the side forward.
“The past 24 months have been thoroughly enjoyable and I want to thank my team and the management for their support. I wish the Pakistan cricket team best of luck in the upcoming events and will continue to support them every time they will take the field to represent Pakistan.”
Straightforward decision for me after Misbah shared plans: Younis
The PCB press release has Younis quoted as saying: "After Misbah shared with me his decision and future plans, it was a straightforward one for me to resign as we had walked into the roles together, had worked as a pair and now also step down together.
"Working with the Pakistan bowlers, including the youngsters, has been most satisfying as they have now started to show progress. Bio-secure environments in the past 16 months have had their impact, something we had never experienced during our playing days.
“The next eight months will be busy and exciting for the Pakistan team and, like in the past, I will continue to back and cheer them. I want to thank each and every member of the Pakistan cricket team set-up as we stayed united in good and bad days, and hope there will be more brighter days ahead.”
Separately, Younis said in a tweet that it had been an "honour" serving Pakistan. It was always hard to say goodbye, the former bowling coach said while wishing "best of luck" to the sports.
"Let today be the day you learn the grace of letting go & the power of moving on," he added.
The pair still had a year each left in their contracts after being appointed in September 2019.
Offspin legend Saqlain Mushtaq, a part of the coaching setup at PCB's High Performance Center, and former allrounder Abdul Razaq have been appointed as interim coaches for the New Zealand series
"With the New Zealand side due to arrive on September 11 for the three ODI and five T20I series and the Pakistan side to assemble in Islamabad on September 8, the PCB has appointed Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdul Razzaq as interim coaches for the series, with the team management for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 to be appointed in due course," the PCB said.
Misbah, Younis deserve respect; replacements ready to step up: Wasim Khan
PCB chief executive Wasim Khan paid tribute to the outgoing coaches, saying: "Both Misbah and Waqar have given so much to Pakistan cricket over a long period of time and for that they deserve a huge amount of respect."
He said their replacements were ready to "step up" and were looking forward to making important contributions in their coaching roles against New Zealand.
Misbah and Younis' resignations came an hour or so after chief selector Mohamad Wasim named the national squad for next month's T20 World Cup as well as the upcoming home series against New Zealand and England.
Their departure also coincided with Prime Minister Imran Khan's nomination of Ramiz Raja as the next chairman of the cricket board. Raja had been critical of Misbah and his approach to the game in the past.