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December 9, 2009
Waqar Younis has been appointed Pakistan's bowling and fielding coach for the upcoming tour of Australia. This will be Waqar's second shot in such a capacity; his first stint - between March 2006 and January 2007 - ended on acrimonious terms with the PCB, as he was unhappy with the board's decision to retain him only for the Test series against South Africa and not the subsequent ODI series.
Waqar's first stint was widely seen to be a successful and popular one. Umar Gul and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, among others, spoke openly of the benefits he had brought to the field. At least in terms of Pakistan's bowling disciplines, Waqar was influential, working hard with bowlers who are traditionally prone to no-balls and wides, especially in limited-overs cricket.
Overseeing an improvement in fielding, on the other hand, might be more difficult. The appointment is surprising in the sense that Waqar was no more than an athletic, efficient fielder and not a specialist, in his playing days. And it might raise the question of precisely what Intikhab Alam and Aaqib Javed - coach and assistant - are doing with the squad currently. The decision comes in the wake of a disappointing performance by Pakistan in Wellington, where they dropped six catches in New Zealand's chase. The game was won largely due to the accuracy and persistence of their bowling attack, which received little support from the fielders.
Aamer Sohail, the former Pakistan batsman, put down the problem to a lack of concentration. "Fielding is a very personal thing. You work hard and it pays off, you don't work hard and you will get found out in the field," he told PakPassion.net. "To stand in the slips for a lot of overs you have to have a strong back and legs, very much like a wicketkeeper, but unfortunately a number of our boys are not 100% fit and therefore struggle to field in the slips. You have to have good anticipation, for example a fielder at point should know that the ball normally from Asif's deliveries will come at him at a different angle and pace than Aamer or [Umar] Gul's deliveries.
"The concentration when you are fielding cannot waver even for a second, but the concentration has been lacking a number of times in the current series. Let's hope they step up the standard of fielding in Australia."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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