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Pakistan cricket back to square one…?

It’s become an order of the day for top hierarchy in Pakistan Cricket Board to pledge productive changes in national cricket and later backtrack on their earlier vows in the name of ‘more productive changes’. The classic example is the appointment of seasoned ex-cricketer Waqar Younis as head coach, with sheer disregard of the veteran’s ‘mediocre’ performance as coach during his erstwhile tenure.

Incumbent PCB chief Najam Sethi had already hinted at appointing Younis as head coach. He might have disregarded a fact that Younis had also served as a head coach of Pakistan team in World Cup 2011 and assigning him this vital responsibility for the upcoming WC 2015 requires sound rationale, which is yet to be provided by Mr. Sethi.

The sitting chairman who had promised after taking charge to install altogether a new team to run board affairs has certainly failed to keep his word. Cricket greats like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohsin Khan (tried & tested coach and player), Aamir Sohail and Rashid Latif have abilities which are perhaps too short to convince Mr. Sethi to award them any responsibility in the cricket board. All these proven leaders, who likes calling spade a spade, are neglected by the board.

Let’s just recall the last tenure of Waqar Younis as head coach wherein there was nothing much to brag about, except Pakistan’s qualification for World Cup semi-finals, which it lost to India in a dubious style. Misbah-ul-Haq, who was censured by experts after the match for his snail-pace batting, could describe the defeat better.

Waqar, during his tenure from March 2010 to May 2011, made headlines when reports of his serious differences with seasoned all-rounder Shahid Afridi came to light. Have all those differences between the duo been resolved? Waqar reportedly had differences with other senior players too in the team. Despite his ‘average’ performance as coach in the last WC, what’s new Waqar has to offer now? Some people may throw their weight behind him for taking the team into the semi-finals of WC 2011, but the aggressive captaincy of Afridi can never be ruled out of this equation.

Waqar Afridi picture

During Waqar’s coaching, Pakistan won the one-day series against West Indies in the Caribbean; it also defeated New Zealand 1-0, winning their first Test series since 2006-07. The spot fixing that stunned the entire cricket world also broke out during Waqar’s tenure.

Let me add here that the next WC is scheduled in Australia & New Zealand, and surprisingly Misbah has never played a single match in Australia. Intelligent and aggressive captaincy will also be inevitable for docile Misbah along with coaching in the mega event.

No one can dare question the abilities of Waqar being a legendary fast bowler, but bringing him for second consecutive time as coach before the World Cup may not prove to be a wise decision. To everyone’s surprise, PCB had advertised the vacancy for team coach in April and fixed the deadline for applications on May 5. However, on April 30 Mr. Sethi met Waqar at PCB headquarters in Lahore and reports began to circulate, labeling the entire ‘coach appointment exercise’ as mere drama.

Mr. Sethi, in an interview earlier this month – had also hinted at Waqar’s appointment as head coach.  What prompted Mr. Sethi to appoint Waqar without assessing applications of other candidates including Mohsin Khan certainly raises some doubts. Contrary to Mr. Sethi’s claim calling himself a good manager to run PCB affairs in a recent interview, he even couldn’t retain the anti-corruption brigade Rashid Latif as chief selector. The chairman overlooked a vital point that batting has always been a concern for Pakistan, but no remedy is introduced so far to address batting woes.

Waqar resigned in August 2011, citing personal reasons including his wife’s health issues. After some months, he applied for Australian bowling coach, but couldn’t get through.

Mohsin Khan picture

Mohsin Khan, whose excellent results as a coach including historical whitewash to England in a three-match test series in UAE in early 2012, is continuously being disregarded. Mohsin was shown the door by the PCB in 2012 without any justification.

Mr. Sethi is now proving his critics right with his ‘hasty and imprudent’ decisions. It’s better he must now draft a PCB constitution, hold fair elections to install a new democratic chairman and leave, before clamour for his resignation from cricketing circles grows louder.

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