Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis has revealed that he contemplated quitting as the team's coach in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal in 2010, in which three of the team's players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - received jail sentences and lengthy bans from the game. Speaking on the sixth episode of ESPNcricinfo Talking Cricket, to be aired on Friday on Sony ESPN, Waqar admitted the experience was "sickening" for the entire team.
"We all were very upset with the whole episode and everyone was down and out, and we couldn't really play the next day," Waqar said. "I still remember... the late Yawar Saeed was the manager, and he was very upset and we couldn't do anything and it was very, very ugly.
"Even at one stage, I thought 'that's it, do I really want to work, do I really want to carry on with this whole thing?' I went back and I spoke to my family and I couldn't really leave the team at the time. I went back and thought about it and I wanted to back these guys. It's not their fault, it's maybe one or two who have done it, but the rest, they don't deserve all this and if I leave now, it's going to get worse. Then, Misbah [ul-Haq] took over [as captain] and things started sort of rolling better and we did extremely well after that."
Recalling his conversation with Amir after his infamous no-ball in the Lord's Test, Waqar said he expressed bewilderment at how much Amir had overstepped. "Look, when the whole thing happened, we were in a very good situation," Waqar said. "That was the first morning of the Test match and they were five down when the whole thing happened, and they came out and then I sort of asked him [Amir] 'what the hell was that, there were couple of no-balls, and not the small no-balls, they were like a huge no-balls'.
"That was more surprising for me [because he didn't have a history of bowling no-balls]. Salman Butt, of course, jumped in and he said, 'I told him to do it because Jonathan Trott was batting, and he said he was coming down the track and I thought of [asking him to] just bang in a couple short, don't worry about the no-ball.'
"This is the answer I got from the captain, and, of course, from the bowler, and I bought it. Any coach, if you ask him if this is a tactic or captain tells you that this is a tactic, you will say, 'yeah, okay, fair enough'."
Waqar said he felt especially let down by Butt, who was the team's captain then, but sympathised with Amir's position. "Amir was very, very down and why I feel for him is that because he was only like 17 then or 18, very young and from a very humble background, very poor background," he said. "Someone who has been asked to do certain things for, you know, such a big amount, that's how I take it."
Amir's reintegration into the side met with resistance from the likes of Mohammad Hafeez, but Waqar said he, and even Butt and Asif, deserved a second chance. "It was a mistake and every human being... we are here, we make mistakes and we get punished for that and then the society and the culture give them that room again to come and be himself again," he said. "He [Amir] could have achieved what even I didn't or even Wasim didn't achieve.
"He suffered a lot for five years, and my religion also says that if someone has done something and has been punished and the entire society has punished him for all these years, he deserves a chance. And, the same way, I feel that Salman Butt deserves a chance, Mohammad Asif deserves a chance. They have been through all the punishment they deserve."
Waqar resigned as coach in April following Pakistan's dismal showing at the Asia Cup and World T20. His second tenure as coach ended in messy circumstances after he submitted a scathing report in which he slammed Shahid Afridi's style of captaincy and was critical of the PCB's decision of not giving him a say in the selection process, and the report was made public. Asked if he saw himself returning to a role with the Pakistan set-up, Waqar said both he and the PCB needed some time away from each other.
"I think we both need to step away from each other," he said. "The cricket board also needs a little bit of space from me because I've spoken a lot about it and I have spoken out of hurt because I feel that things need to change. If things won't change, we will be crying in maybe couple of years' time. So, maybe see how it goes in the next year or so and then decide, but I'm always around the game anyway."
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