Next coach must be from Pakistan - Waqar
Waqar Younis, who quit as Pakistan coach after their tour of Zimbabwe in September, has said his successor should be someone from within the country. Opinion has been divided on whether Pakistan should look for a Pakistani coach or a foreign one; the PCB committee in charge of appointing the permanent coach received applications from foreign coaches as well as local ones. Waqar said they should choose from among the latter because someone from within the country would understand the system better.
"I think it is ideal to have a local coach for many reasons," Waqar told ESPNcricinfo. "A Pakistani coach actually understands the nature and mental approach of the players, and has a stronger understanding of the system. If I had a successful stint with Pakistan it was only because I came up through the system and hence understand it quite well."
The PCB is yet to appoint a permanent replacement for Waqar with Mohsin Khan being appointed interim coach for the series against Sri Lanka in the UAE. They have drawn up a shortlist of five names but are yet to make a final decision.
Waqar coached Pakistan through a difficult period, with the spot-fixing scandal during the England tour in 2010 being followed by Zulqarnain Haider's abrupt departure on the eve of a one-day match due to threats from bookies. However, despite the shock those events sent through Pakistan, results remained fairly consistent: Pakistan drew a Test series against South Africa before winning one in New Zealand, and then reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. Waqar announced his resignation just before the Zimbabwe tour citing health reasons and has since joined the commentary team for the ongoing Test series in the UAE.
He said he was undergoing treatment which prevented him from doing rigorous physical activity. "I am undergoing a treatment that comes with a precaution to avoid pressure and exhausting field work, which I would have been doing as coach. It's working fine so far and I hope things will be better in near future."
After Pakistan's tour of the West Indies earlier this year, it was revealed that there had been friction between Waqar and then one-day captain Shahid Afridi during the trip. Afridi was subsequently sacked as captain and he announced a conditional retirement, saying he would only play for Pakistan if there were changes in the board and management. After Waqar's departure and the replacement of PCB chairman Ijaz Butt by Zaka Ashraf, Afridi said he wanted to return to the national team. Waqar said he did not think it was right of Afridi to have quit international cricket temporarily and said he should only be allowed back if he could prove he deserved it.
"I never had a personal problem with Afridi but I believe it wasn't fair to Pakistan cricket the way he acted, but these are his decisions and his way of handling things. It [his conditional retirement] actually left a negative impact on the minds of the young players in the country and is not a good example for the upcoming players.
"There must be sufficient criteria for his return to the national setup. It should be ensured that he has played enough cricket recently and has done enough to be recalled."
Waqar said he was impressed with the way Pakistan had played for most of the first Test against Sri Lanka, and saw them continuing to do well. However, he said it was important that the new coach was given a selection role for the team to progress.
"What's the definition of coach for a national team? The coach must have a role in selecting the best team to work with and hand over to the captain in the field. Pakistan needs to have a clear selection role for their coach. After all, you need to have someone responsible for results and interestingly it's always the coach who gets sacked if results are not good.
"Pakistan are headed in the right direction. They are doing a wonderful job and they could have won the first Test but failed to finish well. You can't just criticise them for that because they had dominated the opponent for most of the game."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent