Cosmetic changes won't help Pakistan cricket - Waqar
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has offered to step down after the side's poor performance at the World T20 2016 but has warned that cosmetic changes will be insufficient to address the deeper issues within Pakistan cricket. Speaking to the media in Lahore before meeting with a committee set up to look into the side's performance, Waqar also apologised to the fans for the poor World T20 result.
Pakistan won only one of the four group matches in the World T20, after a debacle in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh last month where they failed to qualify for the final. Following the team's early exit in the Asia Cup, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had hinted at sweeping changes, and the board formed a special committee to monitor Pakistan's performance. This committee is expected to submit its recommendations to the PCB chairman later this week. Waqar's two-year contract ends in June but it is learnt that his tenure with the side is unlikely to be extended.
"I apologise to the whole nation, to all of you and to all the people who were at the airport chanting against us, all the people at the NCA [National Cricket Academy] who look after us," Waqar said. "I apologise to everyone. Literally, I fold my hands and request all of you to forgive us for the way we performed, it should not have been this way. Our performance should have been better, but unfortunately that didn't happen."
This is Waqar's second stint as coach, after he had guided the side in 2010-11. He had parted ways with the team in 2011 due to a rift with captain Shahid Afridi. With Waqar and Misbah-ul-Haq at the helm, Pakistan had climbed to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings, and are currently at No. 4. Their position in the limited-overs rankings, however, has been weak. They are currently ranked No. 8 among ODI sides and No. 7 in the T20I format. The side's last win in a T20I series came in September 2015 against Zimbabwe, and they subsequently lost series to England and New Zealand in the lead-up to the Asia Cup and the World T20.
Waqar refrained from blaming individuals, and instead urged the PCB to address the deeper issues in the system.
"These days there is a notion being discussed to dismiss the chairman, selectors or the coaches, but the point is whether the problems are really being understood. Are we really getting down to the problem in our country and mending it? Are we really correcting the system which needs to be rectified?
"So cosmetic changes will not help. This might bring temporary relief, might make you feel that things have changed and everything is fine but I think we should think about this deeply and mark the problems," he said. "We know where the problems are and we have to open our eyes, eradicate the politics from cricket and get things right. I had mentioned these problems in 2015 and have put them up again. I can hope the PCB can deal with them.
"We don't need to hide anything, everything is in front of us, they way we played. It's not like I am hiding anything. In fact, the time to sweep things under the rug is over. It is time to step up and solve problems. People have blamed me. That's not an issue. I will go home but the problem remains. If the problem is solved by sacking me, then sack me. Not tomorrow, but today. But the problem is deeper than that."
Waqar also chose to play down the uncertainty surrounding his future in the role.
"My future as coach isn't relevant. Why is there a sense that Pakistan cricket is linked with my future? It is definitely not. I had a stint previously as well and I am here again but I may not be there in the future and someone else may come in. The point is, I am not the problem. We have to find the real problem."
Waqar has submitted his report of the tournament to the PCB chairman and it is learnt that the report covers a wide range of issues, from selection matters to the players' capacities and the issues he has faced in last two years. While he refused to divulge information about the report, he said that most of the issues facing Pakistan cricket were in the public domain, prime among them being the lack of international cricket in country.
"It's not that roots have always been weak in the country ... cricket not being played here in Pakistan is one of the many problems but we have to take care of our stadiums and domestic cricket to get it going.
"Yes not having international cricket in Pakistan did make an impact and disturbed the roots of cricket. Whatever you have made in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, a home away from home, isn't really a solution. India and other countries are producing cricketers by playing at home grounds. Cricket the game isn't for stars, it's a game for heroes. We often mix it as you may see a star doing TV ads but cricket is played by heroes and those who play the game don't see other things around. So we want heroes and not the stars."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson