LAHORE: Former Pakistan Test captain Waqar Younis said Tuesday he was starting his second stint as head coach with a positive frame of mind and more passion. The 42-year-old fast bowling legend took over for a second spell as coach in May this year from former Australian batsman Dav Whatmore. Talking to reporters here at the Gaddafi Stadium, Waqar said he wanted to bring more aggressiveness to the national squad ahead of next year’s World Cup. Waqar led the team to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Twenty20 and 2011 World Cup before resigning in August 2011 for personal reasons, though differences with all-rounder Shahid Afridi also reportedly played a role in his departure. Waqar said his relationship with Afridi was now a clean slate and acknowledged there were a few problems during his last tenure as coach. “I aim to better my first stint. With the passage of time, when one lives like a family, there are problems but a good coach is the one who negates all those problems and keeps all the players together,” he added.
Waqar insisted that next year’s World Cup would not distract his side as they prepare for tough series against Sri Lanka and Australia. “Of course, World Cup is the long term target and it’s a big event on which every team has set their sights on. But there are short term goals as well and they are our three series against Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand,” he said. Waqar, who took 373 Test and 416 one-day wickets for Pakistan, said he had come with a better plan. “I think the team could get better with changes and we can match any team in international cricket. I was here two years ago and you people saw there was improvement in the team.”
Waqar has about eight months to get the team ready for the World Cup and he did not hint at any major changes in the set-up. “It’s the right time, when I came last time our team was in a similar situation, there are lots of youngsters and I am excited to meet them and work with them. Hopefully the boys will understand what I am trying to say and I hope this passion will be there in them as well. I believe the youngsters are very talented, they will understand the spirit.”
Waqar hoped Pakistan would name a long-term captain, rather than on a series-by-series basis. PCB chairman Najam Sethi had confirmed that Misbahul Haq would remain captain at least until the World Cup, but there are frequent reports to the contrary. Waqar, who also previously served as bowling coach of the Pakistan side in 2006-07 and briefly in 2009, called for an end to the perennial sniping against captain Misbah. “It’s good that he has been leading the side for the last three years but it is also true that a captain always remains under fire. This has been the norm for the last 25 to 30 years, and we need to change that,” maintained Waqar.
He added that he looked forward to working with Grant Flower, the former Zimbabwe opener who takes over as Pakistan’s batting coach. Waqar will supervise a short training camp later this month to get Pakistan tuned up for their two-Test and three one-day international series in Sri Lanka in August. Pakistan play Australia and New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates later in the year, before touring New Zealand for two one-day internationals ahead of the World Cup in February-March.
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