Monday, January 08, 2007

Waqar, gone

Waqar Younis resigned as Pakistan's bowling coach a few days ago. I read a story on the BBC website today that confirms the separation was even more acrimonious than I had initially thought. This is what he had to say:
Respect is something that the PCB needs to learn. I am a bowling coach and not a clerk. The improvement in Pakistan bowlers is there to be seen. I took time out from my family commitments to help youngsters but it is better to quit when you don't get the respect.

You know what? He's absolutely right, even if his comment about taking time out from family commitments was a bit disingenuous (he was, after all, paid to do a job). Respect is something the PCB needs to learn (for cricketers, coaches, and doping regulations among others). The improvement in our bowlers is there to be seen. I'm not 100 percent sure what role a bowling coach has in a bowler's development, all I know is that Gully was suddenly bowling inswinging yorkers against the Windies with the old ball and that Asif kept on improving throughout the year, and that Waqar clearly had something do with these developments. He will be missed, especially since it seemed, at least from a distance, that he had a good rapport with all of our quick bowlers.

Even though his absence from a purely cricketing point of view is worrying enough, it's actually the circumstances of this episode that bother me more. At the end of the day, a bowling coach is a bowling coach, and we should hopefully be able to find a suitable replacement (no, Mushtaq, I don't mean you). But what about the bigger picture? What does this say about the way the PCB is run? What does this say about Pakistan cricket? What sort of nonsensical statement is "The management feels that Waqar has (had) very little contribution in the past as far as the shorter version of the game is concerned"? Waqar's contributions are to the bowlers, not to a particular version of the game. How is it possible to help someone be a better bowler, but only in Test matches? Given the farcical nature of the explanation the PCB has given, it's clear that there is more to this than meets the eye. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Waqar was to be in South Africa for just the Tests and Shoaib for just the ODIs. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that this episode was concurrent with Mushy being brought back into the fold. Perhaps it is. One can only speculate.

The only thing I'm sure about is that I'm getting tired of Dr. Nasim Ashraf, and he hasn't even been there that long. The reason why I absolutely loved the Shahrayar Khan/Bob Woolmer/Inzamam team was that it was so stable, there were no controversies for the best part of two years, problems were taken care of behind closed doors and Pakistan cricket only benefited from the harmony. On the other hand, this Ashraf fellow has, in something like three months on the job, brought back Younis Khan as captain after he had patently disrespected the Pakistan shirt (you don't decline the captaincy of the national team, an unbelievable honor, because someone made you wait outside their office), had the whole religion-in-public spat with Inzi in the papers, completely and utterly mishandled the doping affair (actually, "mishandled" is being charitable), fired Mushy only to bring him back, and is now responsible, at least indirectly, for Pakistan losing the services of Waqar.

I'm just so, so tired of this shit. Can you imagine how good our team would be if we didn't have to deal with this stuff on a consistent basis? Conversely, can you imagine what would happen to the Australias and South Africas and Englands of the world if they went through something like this every six weeks? These things are so avoidable. I mean, they don't just happen. You actively have to be looking for trouble for things like this to transpire. And with us, they always do. Oh, well. I know no one wants to hear bitch on and on so I'll stop now.

Note: When I was recently in Pakistan, I discovered that the "Comment" link below every post was inaccessible. If any of our readers in Pakistan want to comment on any particular issue, then please don't hesitate in emailing me at

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