Time is right to blood new players - Waqar
Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, has said the damage caused to the team by the turbulence of the last few months was the worst Pakistan had suffered in the last few decades. Waqar, however, hoped the influx of young talent into the team for the Asia Cup would help the side move on and be ready for future competitions.
"I think what has happened in the last three months, it has damaged the team more than it did in the last 25-30 years," Waqar told reporters in Lahore. "Now is the time to look forward and see how we could perform well and win international matches."
The recent problems in the Pakistan team surfaced after their winless tour to Australia, following which the PCB conducted an inquiry and punished several players. Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were banned indefinitely, Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan for a year, while Shahid Afridi, Kamaran and Umar Akmal were fined. No reasons for the penalties were forthcoming from the PCB at the time, but a leaked video later revealed the extent of discord within the team. However, all the players apart from Yousuf, who retired from international cricket, appealed against their punishments. The bans on Malik and Younis were overturned by an arbitrator; Afridi's fine was removed while those of the Akmals were reduced.
The selectors then included Malik, who had been slated for his attitude during the inquiry, in the squad for the Asia Cup, and recalled injury-prone fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar. The 15-man list, though, also includes three uncapped batsmen in Shahzaib Hasan, Umar Amin and Asad Shafiq, and Waqar predicted a bright future for them.
"They [experienced players] are great players," Waqar said. "But I think it's the right time to indulge new players, and I believe Umar and Asad are no doubt very talented and have a bright future. We have not won anything significant over the last two-three years, but with youngsters in the side we have a hope to get back on a winning track."
Waqar also said he wouldn't be rushing Shoaib, who last played for Pakistan in May 2009, back into action. "He is fit, but I know it's not easy to make a comeback because I have gone through this when I used to play international cricket," Waqar said.
Pakistan depart for Sri Lanka on Saturday and open their campaign against the hosts on June 15.