Waqar Younis has yet again struck a deal with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)—he will work as Pakistan's national team bowling coach for the next three years. It appears that the door to the PCB is always open for Waqar to crawl back into and this time around he will be teaming up with one of the finest cricketers Pakistan has ever produced, Misbah-ul-Haq, who as a captain steadied the ship in tumultuous times following the Lord’s spot-fixing scandal in 2010. He is now appointed as the head coach for a three-year term and he will also perform the duties of the chief selector.
Waqar's bowling prowess are well-known but as a coach, he does not stack up in the most revered list. An effervescent character, he can be dismissive of the system that he is supposed to make better and he also does not take criticism well. He turned his back against those who brought him to office as demonstrated by his spat with Najam Sethi. He called him a 'dirty politician' and accused him of engaging in 'nepotism'.
This remark was in bad taste coming from a renowned seasoned cricketer who has inspired many generations of cricketers, who look up to him as a bowling genius and a mentor. However, his antagonistic language on the management demonstrated his high-headedness.
Misbah's seemingly easy-going personality could create problems for him in exerting his authority alongside Waqar in the dressing room. With more coaching experience and having worked formerly as the head coach with roughly the same pool of players - including Misbah-ul-Haq - Waqar might become the de-facto head coach.
Safaarshii tola ?? Look who’s talking..Kamal karta ho aap be @najamsethi sb..Kuch be bolta rahta ho #Dabang of @pcb Your days in cricket are well over dear..Stick to your dirty politics. pic.twitter.com/tkHrkHvkHg— Waqar Younis (@waqyounis99) December 3, 2018
“I think criticism should be civilized and not personal and we shouldn’t fall below decency standards.” Waqar was professing these values after the Pakistan team could not make it to the semifinal of the 2019 ODI World Cup. Although when it comes to his personal conduct, he forgets the principles that he preaches as demonstrated by the aforementioned outburst at the former PCB boss.
I selected Waqar as National Coach in 2014 when I was Chairman PCB Management Committee and Sheharyar Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Haroon Rashid, Naveed Cheema, were its members. Waqar’s contract was not extended in 2017 when BoG under Chairman Sheharyar Khan instead chose Mickey Arthur.— Najam Sethi (@najamsethi) December 3, 2018
It was under his coaching stint when the ignoble 2010 spot-fixing saga culminated and it was partly a coaching failure. He might have failed to serve as an inspiration for ethical behaviour. Shahid Afridi in his book Game Changer claimed that Waqar Younis turned a deaf ear to his escalation of spot-fixing matter. Perhaps Waqar did not realise the severity of the situation until it leaked to the news and became viral.
A coach's job is not limited to the devising of strategy, enhancing players' skill set, and use of tactical acumen to outsmart the opponent. It is also about inculcating praiseworthy personal virtues, along with harbouring a global mindset in players that help players broaden horizons and prevent them from making bad life choices.
Afridi reported in his book that he was so disgruntled by the lack of proactiveness from the coaching and management staff, that he decided to quit from captaincy during the first Lord's Test against Australia in 2010 tour to England. Although, one could argue his lack of temperament for the longer format that must have prompted to make an abrupt escape.
With more experience than Misbah, Waqar might become the de-facto head coach
Afridi took a no holds barred stance while recalling Waqar’s coaching, “Unfortunately, he hadn’t let go of the past. Waqar and I had a history, dating all the way back to his tiff with Wasim over the captaincy crown. He was a mediocre captain but a terrible coach, always micromanaging and getting in the way, trying to tell the captain – me – what to do… It was a natural clash and it was bound to happen,” tells Afridi in Game Changer.
It was during his coaching stint that a promising wicketkeeper-batsman, Zulqarnain Haider left the series midway against South Africa back in 2010 in the United Arab Emirates. Such incidents give an impression of an inability to develop a well-knit unit; a coach is ought to know his players' psyche and what's bothering them and be like a fatherly figure.
Kamran Akmal was not a fan of Waqar's coaching philosophy either. He said: “With due respect, Waqar was a failure as a coach and he caused a lot of damage to Pakistan cricket. In his enthusiasm to experiment and sideline established players, he put the national team back by two to three years.
“I don’t know the reasons but Waqar certainly had issues with some players. He had no plans on how to take Pakistan forward. An example was when he went to the 2015 ODI World Cup and asked Younis Khan to open the innings and then sidelined Sarfraz Ahmed until late in the tournament." (Kamran told in an interview to Dawn after the completion of Waqar’s coaching stint from 2014 to 2016)
He was an exceptional bowler, a yorker specialist and he can definitely transfer his knowledge to the future crop of players, but has he learnt from his previous coaching assignments? Only time will tell.