LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday appointed former Test captain Waqar Younis as national head coach for a second spell. The PCB announced in a statement that Waqar had been given a two-year contract. The former fast bowling legend was also given the job in 2010 before quitting in late 2011 for personal and health reasons. Waqar was the hot favourite for the role after Australian Dav Whatmore decided in February not to extend his two-year contract with the PCB. Former wicketkeeper Moin Khan, who filled in as interim coach, guided Pakistan to the Asia Cup final but a poor performance in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh meant his contract would not be extended.
The PCB decision is a wise one as Waqar - a better choice than others who applied for the job - is non-controversial, enjoys cordial relation with national team players and will provide them a nice and healthy atmosphere. There will be cohesion and deep respect. How could young players not respond to a man they may have idolised growing up? During his first spell, Pakistan endured several off-field controversies - the spot-fixing scandal in England and Zulqarnain Haider fleeing to the UK mid-way through a tour - and their performances were also satisfactory. They drew a Test series against South Africa, won one in New Zealand and reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.
A three-member PCB committee had ‘unanimously recommended’ Waqar for the job, a decision endorsed by the board chairman Najam Sethi. Waqar, 42, who took 373 Test and 416 one-day wickets, formed a formidable new-ball attack with Wasim Akram in the 1990s before retiring in 2003. It is Pakistan’s seventh coaching appointment since 2008 in a list that also includes Australian Geoff Lawson, Intikhab Alam and Mohsin Khan.
Waqar said in statement: “I am extremely pleased to have been selected as the head coach. My immediate aim would be to prepare the team for the upcoming busy cricket season including the next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.” The PCB has also advertised for fielding and batting coaches and a spin bowling consultant as they seek to build towards the World Cup. Waqar’s first assignment will be Pakistan’s tour to Sri Lanka in July-August for two Tests and three one-day internationals. They then play Australia and New Zealand in United Arab Emirates.
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