The resignation of Waqar Younis as coach of the Pakistan cricket team is sure to elicit mixed reactions. The beloved Shahid Afridi resigned the captaincy and retired from international cricket in part because of a feud with Waqar, whom he felt was undermining his authority. At the same time, there has been a marked improvement in our cricketing fortunes since Waqar took over from the malleable Intikhab Alam. We reached the semi-finals of the World Cup and, even though we weren’t consistently winning Test series, at least managed to pull of respectable draws. Waqar also brought a much-needed focus on fitness, discipline and, at least in the bowling department, technical improvement. It is unfortunate that he had a clash of wills with Afridi and for that he deserves much of the blame, but to judge his tenure on the basis of one feud would do this legendary cricketer a disservice.
Ultimately, Waqar’s resignation is about more than just one person. He cited medical reasons for his departure and it is no wonder that he was worried about his health given all the stress he has been placed under since taking over. He has had to deal with the ramifications of the spot-fixing crisis, train a team that cannot play at home, manage players who are constantly at loggerheads with one another and report to a chairman who is easily the most incompetent in the history of international cricket. It is a shame that Pakistan has had to go through so many coaches and captains when the president has the power to remove the person who is at the root of the malaise that blights our cricket team. It is Ijaz Butt, not Waqar Younis, who should have been announcing his resignation. When Waqar was asked if he would be recommending a replacement for himself he just wryly smiled. That is because Waqar realises any involvement with the cricketing set-up in the country should come with a warning label: being in the vicinity of the poisonous atmosphere of Pakistani cricket can be extremely hazardous to your health.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.