Pakistan cricket May 6, 2014

A welcome return for one who left too soon

Waqar Younis' last term as coach saw Pakistan rise in the international arena. Now he returns to take charge of a side filled with talented young batsmen but one facing a decline in fast bowling stocks
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It sometimes feels as if exits in Pakistan cricket, forced, manufactured or none of the above, only occur so that subsequent returns are possible. That is one way of looking at the re-appointment of Waqar Younis as the coach of Pakistan on Tuesday, over two years after he resigned.

But because it is Waqar, at least a bit of the cynicism can be shed. If one iron-clad rule of public exits is that one should go when people are asking why, and not why not already, then Waqar was probably too much of a stickler for it last time round.

It really felt, in August 2011, that he and Pakistan were in the middle of something special. They had negotiated a particularly turbulent 18 months. Performances and results with a redrawn team and ethic were assuming a kind of valour.

So deep did his imprint feel at the time that it was impossible to ignore it in Pakistan's series wins against Sri Lanka and, memorably, England, even though they came after he left. If that sounds like a slight to his interim successor Mohsin Khan, well, then maybe it is.

It felt even more an incomplete affair because it was never clear why he left. Personal reasons he plumped for, including never clearly explained health issues. A very public falling out with Shahid Afridi could not be entirely ruled out as a factor, and later it emerged there were financial compulsions.

Waqar had always privately maintained that employment with the Pakistan Cricket Board was a loss-making proposition, given how much he earned as a commentator otherwise. In all, a wide gamut of smallish reasons snowballed into an early, rancour-free but unsatisfactory exit.

Why did Waqar work? The secret of coaching, as becomes more evident with every arrival and departure, is that there is no one secret of coaching. Some work better if they micro-manage obsessively. Others produce better results when shorn of regimented control. No method works forever.

Waqar did because despite being a big-name former player - and they do not come much bigger - he brought a little humility to his role. He once expanded on his belief that one of the things Pakistan needed in a coach was a big name: "In our place, players are sometimes bigger than the game, that is a reality and a tradition. To suppress that, you need a bigger name from on top."

It is an interesting way to look at coaching because what he did was to both use and subvert that. Consider some of the younger players at the time. How could they not respond to a man they may have idolised growing up? Especially when he showed that he was willing to sweat it out on the field with them and take a back seat to them off the field.

Sure, he did not quite dance with Afridi, then the ODI captain, but with Misbah-ul-Haq as the leader of the Test side, there was cohesion and deep respect. That was, and will again be, crucial.

But returning now? Pakistan do not progress or regress linearly like most sides. They have done neither definitively since Waqar left but it is also not as if they have been in stasis. The dynamics to which he returns have changed. The age is no longer what it was. Pakistan do not require rebuilding as they did after the 2010 tour of England. They need to develop.

Off the field, not only is a different administration in place but a vastly rejigged management set-up. Waqar generally liked to be in control. Now he will necessarily have to cede some space to Moin Khan, who, short of captaining the side himself, is in charge of pretty much everything as manager and head selector (through committee, he is also the man who chose Waqar).

That could be fun to watch because the pair have not always got along smoothly. Waqar also believes the fewer people there are jostling for influence in Pakistan's dressing rooms, the better the side performs.

There will be benefits. Both Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad had significant spurts of development in Waqar's time, as members of the set-up if not conclusively as batsmen. He returns with both considerably advanced. They are in form, confident and established. From here Waqar needs to ensure they become the men around whom Pakistan's batting revolves.

In need of his utmost attention though is the fast bowling. Mohammad Akram is an honest, hard-working man who has somehow overseen a rapid decline in fast bowling, encapsulated pointedly by Junaid Khan's inexplicable recent regression.

Whatever else he may or may not achieve, it is impossible to imagine Waqar not revitalising those resources. Given the cruciality of pace to Pakistan's fortunes - nobody knows it better than Waqar - that prospect alone may be enough to justify his return.

This article was first published in The National.

Osman Samiuddin is a sportswriter at the National. @sprtnationaluae

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 4, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    It's been 11 years and that loss against Australia still hurts. To think that we had started celebrating before Symonds came on. Credit to him, though. That's what winners are made of.

  • BlueJayBanter on May 10, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    Mr. Samiuddin. If you would like the fast bowling stocks of pakistans national team to be replenished, then I would advise you to look into the stats of Sadaf Hussain. I am sure you already have and that is why I am baffled that no writer has mentioned him as of yet. Surely stats cant lie.

  • PlayfromDallas on May 9, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Without any doubt Waqar is a better coach than captain. One would question his captainship in WC03 where A. Symonds was allowed to score 143 when game was under Pak's grip? Same WC Razaq placed at mid-off v India & dropping that unthinkable sitter? Razaq at Num3 in WC99 justifies better than him placed at mid-off. Another inability of Waqar is playing the Num3; this'll be a challenge in his new role. It is quite possible that there would be a difference with Zaheer's idea of Num3 is an opener? In a stable batting line Num3 don't open & openers don't do Num3 e.g. V Richard, Ponting, Heinze, Sehwag... The notion of moving Num3's order is very damaging it must be addressed & shouldn't be allowed to sneaking into the lower order. Traditionally once Num3 settled in the team slowly slides into the lower order e.g. Inzi, Yousuf, Shoaib M... Sliding to lower order is defensive, weak mindset, creates poor batting culture & exposes weakness to the opponent. Please convey this message to Waqar.

  • ilovebdcricket on May 8, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    Good decision but End of Afridi's carrier soon.

  • Muhammad.Usman.Anwar.203M on May 8, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    Probably a better decision because of a Pakistani Coach, In depth our team has no problem of batting or bowling, they have mental, psyclogical and passion problem. They need a coach who understand them better, teach them better, knows there psychy, motivate them, make them like a unit, give them direction plans root map and courage to absorb big match's pressure and define there role in the team. No issue regarding techniques, forms, rules, They are playing in that way since birth and can't be changed. Just to give them proper role and confidence and let them do the remaining.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on May 8, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    I think Pakistan's greater challenge right now is not the bowling- they've always had the attack to take 20 wickets. Its their batting which usually lets them down.

  • on May 8, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    that is the best decision this cricket board has done, and i totally agree with Waqas bhai comment that about nature of pakistan cricket

  • on May 8, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    @Elephants-And-The-Grass: M Akram has now been moved to academy. he is not a bowling coach anymore.

  • on May 8, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    waqar was a great bowler , but a complete failure as a captain and coach. He made several tactical blunders. Pakistan should have hired someone like Tom Moody / Shane Warne / Ray Jennings as coach. Poor decision , you will see Pakistan making poor decisions.

  • Vindaliew on May 8, 2014, 5:34 GMT

    Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shehzad have improved a lot in recent months - but I still hope to see Azhar Ali as the pillar around which these strokemakers can build their innings.

  • on July 4, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    It's been 11 years and that loss against Australia still hurts. To think that we had started celebrating before Symonds came on. Credit to him, though. That's what winners are made of.

  • BlueJayBanter on May 10, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    Mr. Samiuddin. If you would like the fast bowling stocks of pakistans national team to be replenished, then I would advise you to look into the stats of Sadaf Hussain. I am sure you already have and that is why I am baffled that no writer has mentioned him as of yet. Surely stats cant lie.

  • PlayfromDallas on May 9, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Without any doubt Waqar is a better coach than captain. One would question his captainship in WC03 where A. Symonds was allowed to score 143 when game was under Pak's grip? Same WC Razaq placed at mid-off v India & dropping that unthinkable sitter? Razaq at Num3 in WC99 justifies better than him placed at mid-off. Another inability of Waqar is playing the Num3; this'll be a challenge in his new role. It is quite possible that there would be a difference with Zaheer's idea of Num3 is an opener? In a stable batting line Num3 don't open & openers don't do Num3 e.g. V Richard, Ponting, Heinze, Sehwag... The notion of moving Num3's order is very damaging it must be addressed & shouldn't be allowed to sneaking into the lower order. Traditionally once Num3 settled in the team slowly slides into the lower order e.g. Inzi, Yousuf, Shoaib M... Sliding to lower order is defensive, weak mindset, creates poor batting culture & exposes weakness to the opponent. Please convey this message to Waqar.

  • ilovebdcricket on May 8, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    Good decision but End of Afridi's carrier soon.

  • Muhammad.Usman.Anwar.203M on May 8, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    Probably a better decision because of a Pakistani Coach, In depth our team has no problem of batting or bowling, they have mental, psyclogical and passion problem. They need a coach who understand them better, teach them better, knows there psychy, motivate them, make them like a unit, give them direction plans root map and courage to absorb big match's pressure and define there role in the team. No issue regarding techniques, forms, rules, They are playing in that way since birth and can't be changed. Just to give them proper role and confidence and let them do the remaining.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on May 8, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    I think Pakistan's greater challenge right now is not the bowling- they've always had the attack to take 20 wickets. Its their batting which usually lets them down.

  • on May 8, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    that is the best decision this cricket board has done, and i totally agree with Waqas bhai comment that about nature of pakistan cricket

  • on May 8, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    @Elephants-And-The-Grass: M Akram has now been moved to academy. he is not a bowling coach anymore.

  • on May 8, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    waqar was a great bowler , but a complete failure as a captain and coach. He made several tactical blunders. Pakistan should have hired someone like Tom Moody / Shane Warne / Ray Jennings as coach. Poor decision , you will see Pakistan making poor decisions.

  • Vindaliew on May 8, 2014, 5:34 GMT

    Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shehzad have improved a lot in recent months - but I still hope to see Azhar Ali as the pillar around which these strokemakers can build their innings.

  • anver777 on May 8, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    Wish he will have a good 2nd stint as PAK coach !!!!!!! a good move for future Pak cricket ....

  • on May 8, 2014, 0:30 GMT

    the issue is simple he left as he was trying to have his authority stamped and not letting the captain take lead and the limelight. He was just another pakistani who faced behavioral issues in high level position. The problem with our selection of coaches is that they just select specially the pakistani one with people who have had an experince of real coaching

  • on May 7, 2014, 23:50 GMT

    I think this is a good decision and Pakistan Cricket need someone like Waqar to coach them. Junaid Khan looked very lethal in the 2011 series against SL, but his performance and effectiveness have reduced significantly. Maybe Waqar can bring out the best in him.

  • Elephants-And-The-Grass on May 7, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    Whats the point of keeping a second class pacer Mohammad Akram as a bowling coach in presence of Waqar Younis as the team coach?

  • dmqi on May 7, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    No matter who is the coach, manager, chief selector, chairman, it is PAK cricket, so the circus will go on. After all we the public have to have something to talk about. Nothing much about batting, very little about bowing and fielding, so team selection, captain-coach, old- young, everything will come on. O well, where is Afridi? His reaction?

  • on May 7, 2014, 17:53 GMT

    afridi must be the captain

  • aarifboy on May 7, 2014, 17:03 GMT

    Mohsin was the best coach for Pakistan. They should have appointed Waqar as bowling coach with Mohsin as Coach.

  • on May 7, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    I am a huge Waqar Fan, its good to see him back and contributing to the PCB, but I wonder if the PCB missed a trick, they keep looking at Pakistani coaches, there are some good ones with interesting theories for batting and bowling like Mark O'Neill for batting, Ian Pont for fast bowling, what the players need is technical advice to succeed at a younger age, then mentoring the preparing from seasoned players like Waqar, Wasim and whoever, but they need the technical advice from the leading coaches in their fields.

  • Big_Chikka on May 7, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    waqar has a pride and passion for himself and pakistan, as well as a hard work ethic, he'll be good for the team, and just to comment on winning, he's one of the few real winners in pakistan cricket.....:) came up of his own hard work, rehabilitated of his own hard work and won pakistan matches of yes you guessed his own hard work! hard work pays...........!

  • UltimateCricExpert on May 7, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Will selecting a great player as a coach improves teams performance? It can't happen... How great a player was Lehman who now made the AUS team No.1 side in the world. Don't expect that just because Waqar was great fast bowler, he will make PAK team a good pace attack... It was already proven in the past that he couldn't do any thing great for PAK in his previous stint.

  • on May 7, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    he is the best option from available names. And it will help pakistan's declining fast bowling as now there will be no M Akram. Yes Moin and Waqar had issues in past but dont forget the role of moin in this selection. Moin seems to all in one of paksitan cricket at the moment and he was in committee to select waqar so that wont be an issue. Misbah has been ok with him in past. only issue will be with afridi. but i dont think it will be a problem. waqar has been praising afridi in recent past whenever he performed.

    at least fast bowling will be good under him. and that has been really an issue in recent past.

  • on May 7, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    He is no doubt one of the better available choices for this role. He has an ample experience at playing cricket at highest level and has relatively successful coaching stints as bowling and head coach. He should now stay there as a coach for his full stint, I remember him working with the average bowlers like rana naveed, rao iftikhar, aizaz cheema and he made them into pretty useful resources. Not to mention that Asif and Gul improved a lot after Waqar took bowling coach's role. Bowling looks very weak these days so good to see bowling legend back in charge. Though he would need a specialist batting coach and i would prefer a foreign coach for this role. Infact, fielding/batting coaches and physio should all be foreigners as too many locals in the setup give way to politics and I don't see local coaches of good caliber for these roles. People here often suggest Miandad, Inzi, Yousaf for batting coach. They were great players no doubt but they may not make good coaches.

  • on May 7, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    AFRIDI is only just ordinar player also his. Career is going to over soon , can't compare with WAQAR capability

  • haqster499 on May 7, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    Utmost attention is not bowling OS. Its batting.

    In ODIs & T20s Pakistan is horrible at chasing. With WC around the corner a coach who could focus more on batting and the mental aspect of staying at the wicket.

  • S.Kamran.Ali on May 7, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    I think this is a good move by PCB, Best of Luck to Team PAKISTAN!

  • on May 7, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    afridi should be the captain

  • Vikram_Maingi on May 7, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    How necessary was this statement... "No problems with Afridi"

  • India_boy on May 7, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    Waqar Younis...a dream bowler...with an innocuous run up and an unremarkable action, but possessing the most lethal yorkers of all times and an inswing that not even the TV cameras of those days could capture properly. He is the Dravid of fast and accurate bowling It is unbelievable that Pakistan lays waste to such gift instead of harvesting it. Younis should naturally have been the national coach with all the freedom he wanted. But like the history of the country, even their team is torn with strife. There is not one bowler in the world today like Waqar in his prime, yet Pak has been unwilling to seek his help, and we have to be contend with watching junaids and irfans!

  • adilnzir on May 7, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    "clash of the egos" lets see how the great drama unfolds

  • Marcel_Ci on May 7, 2014, 5:24 GMT

    I must quote watever ppl will say..... but afridi has been one of the greats in International cricket over the years.... nobody like ponting kallis dravid sachin could match his match winning abilities...

  • Salobalay on May 7, 2014, 5:12 GMT

    Finally something sensible from PCB. Have always been a fan of Waqar and his coaching.

  • on May 7, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    It is very great that Waqar is pakistans new coach, hopefully he will better for pakistan cricket specially for bowling.

  • Herath-UK on May 7, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    This is a good move & I admire Waqar even as a Sri Lankan fan.As a commentator he tries to remain neutral & after Marvan's appointment as the coach of Sri Lanka two big asian sides going with local expertise is a welcome sign.

  • fkhawaja on May 7, 2014, 4:55 GMT

    waqar as a coach of pakistan is a big gamble. you need a v good man manager, cool, calm person. one who can keep the dressing room together. waqar carries a lot of baggage. pakistan has always played bad when there is internal rifts in the team and waqar doesn't look like the one who can control that. mohsin khan is a much better person who can do that.

  • on May 7, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    People saying that Pakistan would have been better off with a "batsman coach" like Grant Flower need to understand that Pakistan is a bowler-cenrtric team and they need some one like Waqar too take them to the next level. Pakistan have always won matches because of their bowling strength and they will continue to do so, which makes Waqar's appointment a very good decision.

  • on May 7, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    OMG!!!! not again. iwanted Grant Flower...... to be the coeach......... pak needs batting side head coach........

  • getsetgopk on May 7, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    There were two camps back in the days of the 2W's, they didn't like each other very much. Afridi ended up in the Wasim camp so his difference with Afiridi are way beyond the spat that happened on the caribbean tour a while back. However, non of the three can be accused of being less patriotic than the other, personal differences is a mere fact of life and should not come in the way of national teams interest. Like Waqar said in his interview, things with Afridi could have been handled differently, Waqar being a senior guy should have handled Lala with a little more caution rather than having the situation go all bonkers but better late than never. I am glad he's came back to head coach role now if they can get Inzi and Wasim in that would be a dream team with Moin Khan there already.

  • on May 6, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    I think his reappointment will be a great opportunity for Junaid to take his game to the next level.His emergence as the spearhead bowler is key to Pakistan's success.

  • Stark62 on May 6, 2014, 22:00 GMT

    Doesn't matter whoever the coach is because ultimately, it is the selectors who will decide the fate of the team!!

    If the selectors keep picking mediocre players with a 30 domestic average, then Pak won't be going anywhere, anytime soon.

  • PeerieTrow on May 6, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    Waqar will be good for Pakistan Cricket. His presence will be good for international cricket in the round. However, the Pakistan supporters worldwide must be patient, don't expect immediate results, and above all remember some eggs will always get broken in making an omelette.

  • on May 6, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    Well,if Mohd Amir makes a comeback successfully in 2015 and beyond then Waqar can have a team to build around...One of the worries will be the age of Younis Khan,Misbah and Ajmal ...the 3 stalwarts and best players...Pakistan have never been a great batting team and they need Misbah/Younis for another 2 years...i know Waqar was a big fan of Umar Akmal and ill bet he will want to give him a good run.Lets hope it works out.

  • on May 6, 2014, 18:32 GMT

    Yasir Akhtar Are we playing a game of dice or cards? It is cricket and one cannot ascribe such things to a person for those on field not performing

  • on May 6, 2014, 17:38 GMT

    Waqar does not have winning luck, like Imran Khan, Waseem Akram or even Moin.

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  • on May 6, 2014, 17:38 GMT

    Waqar does not have winning luck, like Imran Khan, Waseem Akram or even Moin.

  • on May 6, 2014, 18:32 GMT

    Yasir Akhtar Are we playing a game of dice or cards? It is cricket and one cannot ascribe such things to a person for those on field not performing

  • on May 6, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    Well,if Mohd Amir makes a comeback successfully in 2015 and beyond then Waqar can have a team to build around...One of the worries will be the age of Younis Khan,Misbah and Ajmal ...the 3 stalwarts and best players...Pakistan have never been a great batting team and they need Misbah/Younis for another 2 years...i know Waqar was a big fan of Umar Akmal and ill bet he will want to give him a good run.Lets hope it works out.

  • PeerieTrow on May 6, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    Waqar will be good for Pakistan Cricket. His presence will be good for international cricket in the round. However, the Pakistan supporters worldwide must be patient, don't expect immediate results, and above all remember some eggs will always get broken in making an omelette.

  • Stark62 on May 6, 2014, 22:00 GMT

    Doesn't matter whoever the coach is because ultimately, it is the selectors who will decide the fate of the team!!

    If the selectors keep picking mediocre players with a 30 domestic average, then Pak won't be going anywhere, anytime soon.

  • on May 6, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    I think his reappointment will be a great opportunity for Junaid to take his game to the next level.His emergence as the spearhead bowler is key to Pakistan's success.

  • getsetgopk on May 7, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    There were two camps back in the days of the 2W's, they didn't like each other very much. Afridi ended up in the Wasim camp so his difference with Afiridi are way beyond the spat that happened on the caribbean tour a while back. However, non of the three can be accused of being less patriotic than the other, personal differences is a mere fact of life and should not come in the way of national teams interest. Like Waqar said in his interview, things with Afridi could have been handled differently, Waqar being a senior guy should have handled Lala with a little more caution rather than having the situation go all bonkers but better late than never. I am glad he's came back to head coach role now if they can get Inzi and Wasim in that would be a dream team with Moin Khan there already.

  • on May 7, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    OMG!!!! not again. iwanted Grant Flower...... to be the coeach......... pak needs batting side head coach........

  • on May 7, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    People saying that Pakistan would have been better off with a "batsman coach" like Grant Flower need to understand that Pakistan is a bowler-cenrtric team and they need some one like Waqar too take them to the next level. Pakistan have always won matches because of their bowling strength and they will continue to do so, which makes Waqar's appointment a very good decision.

  • fkhawaja on May 7, 2014, 4:55 GMT

    waqar as a coach of pakistan is a big gamble. you need a v good man manager, cool, calm person. one who can keep the dressing room together. waqar carries a lot of baggage. pakistan has always played bad when there is internal rifts in the team and waqar doesn't look like the one who can control that. mohsin khan is a much better person who can do that.