Waqar Younis does not think he was able to make much of a difference to Pakistan cricket in his recently concluded two-year stint as national coach. A big part of the problem, he told ESPNcricinfo in an interview, was a lack of proper direction at the administrative level, with the PCB having “two heads” in board chairman Shaharyar Khan and executive committee chairman Najam Sethi, who pulled the game in “two different directions”.
Outgoing T20I captain Shahid Afridi’s “temperament issue” did not help either, Waqar said.
A former Pakistan captain himself, Waqar had resigned from the coaching role earlier this week with three months left on his contract, following Pakistan’s dismal showing at the Asia Cup and World T20 where they won only three games out of eight. It was a messy parting of ways, with his announcement coming soon after his scathing report on Pakistan cricket – featuring Afridi’s lack of leadership skills, and the indiscipline among the players among other things – was leaked to the public.
“The biggest issue was having two heads of a family, [it] did not help the cause,” Waqar said. “Not only for the coach but cricket overall also suffered because, inside the PCB, there are two heads and two different directions. That needs to be looked into. That is very important.”
It was important for the PCB to realise it existed to help grow cricket in Pakistan, not the other way round, Waqar said. “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 for the cricket team, for the game. The cricket team is not for them.
“Here we have a culture where cricket teams beg for things from them [administrators]. It should be the other way around and it needs to be changed on an immediate basis.”
When asked why he had stayed in the role for so long despite all these issues, Waqar said he had hopes of changing the way Pakistan cricket worked. “I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted to. I’m always in support of the younger players coming through, indulging the younger players, but unfortunately it did not happen. There were forces that didn’t allow me [to do so].
“Some people ask why didn’t I leave early but 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.”
The main problem with Afridi, Waqar said, was his inability to concentrate for long periods. “Afridi’s drawbacks as a captain are for everyone to see. He has 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.”
Waqar said Afridi was in stark contrast to Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq. “My relationship with Misbah was excellent and we all know that. Because I think he has got a great temperament for cricket. When you sit with him, he can talk about cricket for hours. And I think when you are a captain, you need to absorb a lot of things from the coach.”
He had managed to maintain a working relationship with Afridi, Waqar said, but that has been wrecked by the leaked report. “I have been very clear that report was not for the media, but for the cricket board. Unfortunately, the report was leaked and my relationship with Afridi has been spoilt.”
In his report, Waqar had mentioned the need for a high-performance manager’s post to be created by the PCB, and he reiterated that view. “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, enhance physios, trainers, the NCA, and only handle cricketing matters. That could be a foreigner, so there is no baggage.”