By Ian Reid
This latest news is rather exciting and I really hope it ends up being a reality for Australian cricket.
The void left by Craig McDermott resigning as bowling coach is massive.
He did a truly spectacular job during a short time with the Australian team and his impact has left a big footprint for all to see. The Australian bowling unit has started to build a reputation as one that should not be handled with disrespect and the Test performances from the bowlers has certainly seen a dramatic turnaround after the dismal 2010-11 Ashes series, which was a major reason for a number of changes in the Australian landscape (Argus Review).
The news that we've been provided with is that one of the men interviewed for the position of Australian bowling coach is none other than the legendary Waqar Younis.
Growing up in the 90s watching cricket, every kid knew about the lethal bowling duo from Pakistan known as Wasim Akram and Waqar. As a youngster Waqar was one of my favourites to emulate when playing garden cricket.
Wasim Akram is still regarded as one of the best left-arm fast bowlers of the modern era and Waqar - who is without a finger on his left hand - was a spectacle to watch in limited overs cricket and it was hard to not be drawn into the thrill of his lightning pace.
Had I seen him play live, it would have been a real treat to have seen him hurling down deliveries in real time during the days when batsmen weren't as well shielded as they are now. Bowlers were even scarier then!
When he bowled out batsmen, they just seemed to instantly walk off the pitch with utter disbelief, the acceptance that their downfall was as a result of ferocious, tactical bowling.
I think the day I realised Waqar was well past his best and that his playing days were as good as over was during the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup when he bowled hideous beamer at Andrew Symonds, who destroyed Pakistan in one of his most entertaining innings when it mattered most for his career. But I remember that innings as one where Waqar's career was at the end. The signs were there.
Come the end of his career, as a player he was accomplished and he is not just a great Pakistani cricketer but a legend to the cricket world. He remains one of the most talked about bowlers when we discuss reverse-swing and his general control with swing bowling during his prime is something our fast bowlers would be eager to lap up with the mentorship of Waqar.
His suitability for the Australian team?
Waqar has been based in Sydney, Australia since 2005. He has the advantage as a "foreign" cricket professional who has been exposed to local and cultural knowledge which should help him mix with the team culture and the fanatics. More so he has spent time with the New South Wales Blues so he will understand the demands, attitude and team spirit with which he will be working with in Australian sport.
He has been fresh out of International cricket for a while now since resigning as the Pakistan coach in 2011 due to personal reasons. The politics within Pakistani cricket is a major distraction upon the love of the game which so many of their supporters have. No doubt when in a position of responsibility such as a coach it can't be easy with all these distractions.
Although I don't intend to come across as disrespectful to any Pakistan cricket supporters who follow my writing, the work environment within the Australian cricket team carries professional pressure as it does with any team but it is mostly factors of pressure to generate performance based results. There is still the never ending conquest to win the vote of confidence with the players and supporters as well, but the external pressures are far less than that of the Pakistan cricket camp.
The shift may be a good one for Waqar having had a bit of a break from that environment. He may have the opportunity to settle into an environment which may allow him to really show his true colours as a bowling coach with a bunch of guys who will want to make an impression based on all the positives they have taken from the brilliant job done by Craig McDermott.
Understandably, we'd prefer to see a bowling coach come in the form of a former Australian cricketer, which is the natural way to think in terms of comfort and history.
It's exciting to know that Cricket Australia has gone out of their comfort zone with the appointment of staff in coaching or managerial positions e.g. Mickey Arthur and Pat Howard.
We've seen a gradual turnaround in performances from the Test and ODI teams and both Arthur and Howard have played a vital role. One comes from another cultural background having had real international success, while the other has been involved within and played a different sport. The appointment of Waqar Younis shouldn't be seen as a negative based on this.
All in all if I look at these aspects along with my personal admiration for Waqar as a cricketer, I think it would be a boost to our side from the outset. The major factor would be the performance delivery and I have confidence that the appointment wouldn't be a light decision given the massive task to replace McDermott with an intense cricket schedule coming up. If Waqar gets the job, it will be for the right reasons.
(Ian Reid runs http://www.thebaggygreen.blogspot.com. In doing so he aims to encourage other supporters around the world to support the team and open their minds to the challenges Australian cricket faces. He comes from the Steve Waugh era of cricket, so he tends to be very optimistic and enjoys the in-depth aspects of this great game. Ricky Ponting inspires him and states that it has been an honour to have followed his career since 1994-95. Ian is a supporter of the South Australian Redbacks and The Wallabies)