September 15, 2003

Mudassar: Wasim and Waqar rivalry undermined Pakistan cricket

Wisden CricInfo staff

Former Pakistan opener Mudassar Nazar has claimed that the rivalry between Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis seriously undermined Pakistan cricket in the 1990s, and left a legacy which continues to haunt the national side to this day.

Speaking to the Dubai-based Khaleej Times, Mudassar maintained that in-fighting has always been present in Pakistan cricket, but that it became a serious issue in the 1990s. "I don't know how or why it happened," he said. "But I know that subsequent board officials have turned a blind eye to it, even encouraging it to stay in power."

Mudassar went on say that personal rivalry had in earlier times strengthened the performances of some players. "Imran Khan and Javed Miandad were not the best of buddies but they were able to bring the best out of each other on the field. This has not been the case between Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. They have not been able to keep their prejudices and dislikes away from the field.

"Sadly, two of its best ever cricketers have played a part in Pakistan cricket's decline. In the 1990s Pakistan was on par with the Australian team. I believe it was even more talented than the Australians. But look where it is now."

Mudassar pointed to Pakistan's recent dismal showing in the World Cup as proof that the situation was still shambolic. "It wasn't something that I wasn't expecting because I knew about the internal bickering in the team. The focus of the players had shifted from cricket. A couple of players should have been sacked. But that never happened and the disastrous performance was a consequence of that."

And Mudassar concluded by accusing the administrators of doing nothing to address the problem. "To stay in power, the administrators befriend the players and use and manipulate them," he explained. "They try to keep the players happy. So if the players revolt against a coach, who is being tough with them, he is sacked."