Waqar backs Ajmal, youngsters to shine in Bangladesh
KARACHI: A disgruntled Sachin Tendulkar once labelled Greg Chappell, the former India coach, as a ‘ringmaster’.
Ask any of Pakistan’s senior cricketers and they will tell you Waqar Younis has garnered a similar reputation on this side of the border.
The former Test pacer has been lambasted by several of his critics for the force behind Pakistan’s decision to discard several senior players in favour of younger ones.
But Waqar, Pakistan’s head coach, made it clear that every step he takes is aimed at the betterment of the country’s cricket.
“We have some talented new boys in the team and I’m sure they will serve Pakistan well,” Waqar told reporters on the sidelines of a national training camp in Lahore on Friday.
When Waqar was asked whether he was systematically getting rid of senior players by giving a negative feedback about them to the Board, he said: “I informed the board about my reservations. The important thing for Pakistan cricket is the right attitude and fielding. Otherwise we will lag behind other teams.
“I’ve always played for Pakistan and want the best for Pakistan. Whether people like my methods or not I’ll only do what I believe is best for Pakistan cricket. I respect criticism but I don’t care about critics who have no manners.”
Waqar was all praise for the survival instincts of ace off-spinner Saeed Ajmal who will be making a comeback in this month’s tour of Bangladesh.
“We should appreciate Saeed Ajmal,” he said.
“He has worked really hard in the last eight months to make a comeback in the team.
“He has won a lot of matches for Pakistan in the past and I can see that he is in a good form.
“This would be his first chance with the new bowling action and it would be a chance for us as well to test his effectiveness. As far as I believe his experience will come in handy and he will be successful.”
Waqar hailed the performance of his pace battery in World Cup 2015.
“Our bowlers delivered well in the World Cup but the batsmen disappointed us. We have always had good bowlers in our armory but for the new guys to come in and deliver in such a big event was a very good sign.
“Especially, Rahat came in and did well and Wahab also took a stand for Pakistan with his bowling.”
The coach said that Pakistan should focus on preparing their second string players
“We are keeping an eye on the A team tours and also the domestic structure to find young talent. We are keeping an eye on everything. We also need to take care of the stadiums so that if cricket comes back in Pakistan we should not be lacking behind.”
On PCB’s decision to dump Umar Akmal and restricting Ahmed Shehzad to just the T20 format, he said: “This team is not and neither is yours. This is Pakistan’s cricket team and whoever will play for Pakistan he will be given preference.”
“My report did not make any difference on selection. The selectors did what they deemed best for the team and in the upcoming series you will see that the new players will be oozing with team spirit.”
Waqar hoped that Pakistan will move on after saying goodbye to Misbah-ul-Haq in the ODI format.
“In cricket, you have to move on. If you don’t you will lag behind other team. We have involved new players in this series and we will keep on indulging new players but Azhar has a chance to prove his mettle now. Misbahul [Haq] and Younis [Khan] have serves Pakistan a lot and you will also see them in action in Tests.”
“We have got some very talented young players in the team for the tours as well such as Sami Aslam and Babar Azam. I am hoping they will avail the opportunity.”
Waqar is expecting a tough contest against Bangladesh.
“Of course, it will be a tough series. Bangladesh have improved a lot and they are fine side now. We won’t be taking them lightly.
“We have a young lot of players with us. The energy of the team will be different this time. We should not put a lot pressure on the youngsters but I believe they are capable enough to do the job,” he said.
Pakistan will leave for Dhaka next week to play two Tests, three One-day Internationals and a T20 game.