'If we don't change ourselves we'll be talking about a Pakistan cricket mess again'

Waqar Younis, who has resigned as the team's coach, talks about the obstacles he faced in the role, and compares Misbah's captaincy to Afridi's

Waqar Younis talks to the media, Lahore, April 10, 2015

"A coach should be there when selecting a team and without his signature things shouldn't move ahead"  •  AFP

Will you ever take on the Pakistan coaching job again?
I don't know. In life I don't think we should say no to any chance. We are living in a very sensitive world and whatever happened recently had a purpose behind it. I was being ignored for a major chunk of my time and my suggestions were discouraged, that's why I spoke out. I wanted to make the board understand the problems. I'm glad they finally took my recommendation and made a move to implement them.
It doesn't matter if they realised it only after making me a scapegoat. At least they accepted that I'm right. It's a win-win situation for me because I fought for Pakistan cricket. I want all the cricketers to fight for the right thing in Pakistan cricket, otherwise we will be left far behind. My war wasn't meant for me to survive in this system but to make Pakistan cricket move from its standstill position.
This was your second term as head coach. Why did you need to resign both times?
The first time was for personal reasons, but both times I have had no regrets. This recent term might have ended in a mess but I have no regrets. The difference is that when I left the job in 2011, it was the board that shed tears and this time it's me who is in tears.
But I know I did my job with honesty and worked very hard. They did offer me three months' work in various other capacities so I could complete my term and take the Rs 5 million (US$48,000 approx), which I didn't accept, because it was never about the money.
Unfortunately the PCB isn't in a mood to change, or they don't have resources, or they don't want to understand the idea. But if they don't understand, our cricket surely will suffer.
"I think there should be a performance-enhancing manager working as a bridge between the administration and the cricket. This manager should be a foreigner, because he can come without baggage"
Your reputation as a former fast bowler has been overshadowed by your role as Pakistan's coach. Let me ask you again: will you ever come back to this culture?
This is the same culture that made me the Waqar Younis the world knows. I understand that some cricketers think their reputations and profiles are bigger than cricket and they don't want to come into Pakistan cricket to avoid tarnishing those images. I don't want to count the number of jobs I left for Pakistan cricket, but I came for its betterment and I can come again.
What have you learnt from your experience?
My first term was a very short one as the bowling coach with Bob Woolmer. The second time around, I enjoyed it. The board was very supportive. Ijaz Butt [then the PCB chairman] gave me the freedom a coach should have and he was very easily accessible.
Unfortunately, in this stint, the biggest issue was having two heads in a family [Najam Sethi and Shaharyar Khan]. Not only for the coach but cricket also suffered overall, because inside the PCB, there are two heads and two different directions. That needs to be looked into.
Do you think you made any difference in your second stint?
No, I couldn't do exactly what I wanted to. I'm always in support of younger players coming through, indulging them. But unfortunately there were forces that didn't allow me [to do so]. Some people ask why didn't I leave early. I have faith in the idea that to fix the system, you have to stay in the system. I've tried to fix it, but it didn't work.
How hard is it for a coach to work with Pakistani players?
In my IPL experience as a bowling consultant, I saw that every person was looking at the product - how cricket could be enhanced was their No. 1 priority. Here the priority is not perhaps so much about the product.
Coaching, as such, is not difficult. If the energies of your board, your first-class cricket system, all parties are aimed at international cricket then things will be fine. I have said previously that people in a cricket board should be coming towards the team, towards the coaching staff. They should be coming towards us to improve things, because they are there for the game. The cricket team is not for them. Here we have a culture where teams beg for things from the board.
I think there should be a high-profile position, like a performance-enhancing manager, who can work as a bridge between the board and the players and enhance physios, trainers, the NCA, and only handle cricketing matters. That person could be a foreigner, so there is no baggage.
In your report you have written that there were communication gaps between the selection committee and the head coach and the captain in limited-overs cricket.
A coach should be made a member of the selection committee. He should be there when selecting a team and without his signature things shouldn't move ahead. The captain should also be a part of selections and everyone should sit together to take a call. If there are three selectors with three votes, the coach and captain can combine to make one vote, if not separate.
Can you talk about your relationship Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi and Salman Butt?
My relationship with Misbah was excellent, because he has a great temperament for cricket. When you sit with him, he can talk about cricket for hours. I think when you are a captain, you need to absorb a lot of things from the coach.
What is a coach's role? A coach is an experienced man who has seen similar situations and learnt from his experience and is also [good at] man management.
I also had a great relationship with Salman Butt and if that unfortunate [spot-fixing in 2010] situation had not happened, perhaps neither Misbah nor Afridi would have been captains.
Shahid Afridi's drawbacks as a captain are for everyone to see. He's got a temperament issue. He cannot sit for too long to highlight things or absorb things and then go and implement them. I've said this in my report. I have been very clear that the report was not for the media but for the board. Unfortunately it was leaked and my relationship with Afridi has been spoilt.
That's why this post [of performance-enhancing manager is required]. Like Pat Howard [for Australia], like Andrew Strauss [for England] - a person who is responsible for everything. He should come and talk to the media about why a coach has done this or why a captain has done this or why the selectors have done this. All these things he needs to look after.
Do you have an issue with Shahid Afridi?
Afridi was very junior to me when I was finishing with playing cricket, so there was never an issue with him, like an ego clash or something. All I wanted was to have a good relationship and coordination to achieve one goal - which is to win. Everybody has a unique character, but as long as the goal and the target are the same and are good for the team, I am okay with that.
You have been emphasising adapting to modern cricket, but it doesn't seem to reflect in the players. Why?
I don't know what I didn't do to make them understand. I think I couldn't have done any more to make them understand. I can't really hold a stick in my hand to get it through them. But they did show glimpses in the Sri Lanka series. Maybe fear of failure and fear of losing their spot in the team makes them not open to modern cricket, the likes of which cricket West Indies have just played, and England and India are playing. If we don't change ourselves, we will be talking about a Pakistan cricket mess in the coming years again and cursing the system.
"I don't want to count the number of jobs I left for Pakistan cricket, but I came for its betterment and I can come again"
I tried my best to understand the culture and the mindset, but I think people are probably not ready. They need time, or maybe new faces can come and make a difference.
In my 2015 report [after the World Cup], I asked the board to bring new faces because some have been around for six, seven years but have not produced what they should have on the field. Let them play domestic cricket to prove their ability.
At one time Pakistan were No. 2 in the Test rankings. But in limited overs they have been at Nos. 7 and 8.
The major difference was the leadership. Azhar [Ali] is a very young captain. You have to give him some time. When we lost to Bangladesh we started becoming sceptical about him as captain, which shouldn't be the case. He is getting better.
Misbah, on the other hand, is a more settled person. He absorbs things, makes plans and executes them - this is what you do as captain.
Now Pakistan have named Sarfraz Ahmed as captain for T20s. Don't expect that he will come and perform miracles. Captaincy adds a lot of pressure. We need to allow him time to settle.
You come from the same system you are criticising. Why can't you work within it?
The PCB's own governing board has no cricketer. All the major posts are held by non-cricketers. That is the major point of concern. From where have these people come? Do they really deserve to run the cricket affairs? Where are the right people, where are the cricketers? It's not the time to keep your eyes closed and ignore these facts.
I want our first-class cricket to be boosted. Money should be pumped into it. This PSL might a good product but are we really going to produce the players we need from it? Ninety per cent of our cricketers are coming from first-class cricket and you are not ready to invest in it, instead you look at the PSL to give you the best lot?
What were the problems you faced on the field as coach?
It's complete frustration at this level for coaches that the players coming to us are raw and unaware about the basics of the game. There is a huge difference between domestic and international cricket, so they struggle badly. It's not just me. The entire coaching staff gets frustrated because at this level there is no time to get the players to work on their technical problems every day. The next coach will have the same problems. Don't you think [Bob] Woolmer or [Geoff] Lawson or [Dav] Whatmore faced the same problem? They all did.
There are no training programmes, physical fitness programmes. Running between the wickets is a problem that we can't fix in a couple of days or week or months. It's a part of their grooming when they were growing up in the domestic circuit. Fielding has never been a criterion for the selection. In my report I made that point with regards to selection.
Here, if a batsman scores 400 runs or bowler takes 40 wickets, the selectors directly send him on tour without assessing their fitness levels or their fielding ability.
We haven't had a head coach at the National Cricket Academy for more than a year or so. The major infrastructure of cricket academies around the country at major centres are not functioning. And then you blame the head coach - that his relationship with the captain and the selectors isn't working out. Why don't you see the bigger picture?
How much is a coach to blame for a defeat?
There are limitations to a coach behind the boundary line. A coach makes a plan, the captain executes it. I don't want to say that Afridi is the only one to be blamed. But if you look at cricket history, you will see the names of captains - Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh - are remembered, not the coach's name. It's the captain who operates the show.
"The PCB's own governing board has no cricketer. From where have these people come? Do they really deserve to run the cricket affairs?"
How much do you rely on analytics and data in your style of coaching?
Of course that's the integral part of the game and I don't think we let our players on the field without covering these aspects. We dig up everything on the opposition and pass it on to the players, but at the end of the day the execution mainly lies with the players. In my times as a player we might have been complacent about the significance of data, but these days it's very important.
You have made a big deal about the leak of your report.
Leaking of a confidential report is a big crime. You can't leak important information meant for the betterment for the organisation. It was leaked and presented in a very negative manner.
The whole last week I was the biggest talking point in the news and I am being treated as the only culprit in Pakistan's recent losses. I am the highest paid employee in the PCB and I gave the right information, out of which the most confidential things were leaked to the media. To achieve what? Maybe to divert attention from the real problem. I got emotional when I saw it on TV, so I took my complaint about the leak to the prime minister. I was hurt.
But this isn't the first time that reports have been leaked in Pakistan cricket.
Maybe reports have never been as honest as mine was. I know information from the dressing room is also leaked to the media. Some TV anchors blackmail and exploit young players, telling them that they will raise their profile on TV, or that if they don't talk to them, they will bash them on TV. This culture needs to end. Players need to understand that it's their game that needs to improve, not their image in the media.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson