We need to select better fielders - Waqar
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has rubbished all talks of a rift in his side, and has urged everybody to not let these notions take away from the fact that Pakistan have not been playing good cricket. Waqar's own future as the Pakistan coach is not certain - his contract comes up for renewal in June - but he had advice, especially for the Pakistan selectors: look at the fielding aspect too before they pick players. Pakistan's sloppy fielding might have been the difference between against Australia and New Zealand in the last two matches, with too many of them needing hiding.
"I think the difference between the teams is very obvious and clear," Waqar said. "We are not the best fielding side in the tournament. We need to think hard. The selectors need to look at that too. When you pick someone you have to look at the fielding aspect of his game. We have to look at youngsters. These big events bring about change so let's see."
When asked about reports of rift in the team, Waqar said: "That the boys are not in agreement, not united, these are all made-up things. I was myself disturbed that such rumours have been spread. We are not playing good cricket, and that's the bottom line. As a result of that we have to face this."
Waqar said losing against New Zealand three nights ago, when they were in charge of the chase after an explosive start from Sharjeel Khan, hurt him more than the loss to Australia. "There is obvious disappointment of getting knocked out of the World Cup," he said. "We were disappointed more about the New Zealand game than this one because that match was in our control. We made mistakes with our bowling [today]. Not just in the final overs, when we went for a few, but whenever we got wickets we conceded boundaries. Had we bowled well they wouldn't have scored 193. The boys were off the plan, we made mistakes."
Waqar was asked if Pakistan cricket was in terminal decline, and what the reason behind it was. "Now that we have just been knocked out, if I say something it might sound as an excuse," Waqar said. "But if you look deeply there has been no cricket in Pakistan for the last six-seven years; its effects are showing. We had match-winners too. Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez, who could bowl. Yes there is indeed a bit of decline, and we need to arrest it. We will have to look at our domestic cricket and our infrastructure."
About the future - his own and Afridi's - Waqar was less certain. About himself, Waqar said: "About my career we will see what the state of affairs are. Will meet the chairman of the PCB and then decide."
Afridi was supposed to address the press conference after the defeat, but at the last moment Waqar was asked to come. "What I have heard is he [Afridi] is going to go back and do the press conference in Pakistan," Waqar said. "Then he will decide what his future plans are." As with Afridi's two-decade career, his next move is anybody's guess.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo