Pak coach Waqar Younis seeks a fresh start

Lahore, February 8, 2011

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis and team manager Intikhab Alam called for a fresh start for the national side after three key players were handed lengthy bans on corruption charges.

Riding high after winning the Test and one-day series in New Zealand, the Pakistan team flew home to Karachi and Lahore three days after an International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal sanctioned the trio.

Salman Butt was banned for 10 years, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer for seven and five years respectively, after allegations surfaced during last year’s tour of England that they were willing to deliberately bowl no-balls. “It is important that it’s finished now and we can start afresh,” Waqar told reporters at Lahore airport.

“We can now make a fresh start after a lot of controversies affected Pakistan cricket and I am happy that it’s over now.”

Waqar was coach during England tour where the scandal erupted and gave testimony to the ICC tribunal in Qatar by tele-conference, but said the bans did not affect the successful New Zealand tour.

“The players didn’t talk about it at any time, so there was no way it could affect the team’s performances on the tour,” said Waqar, who welcomed the 3-2 one-day series win in New Zealand.

“I am sure this one-day series win will give us a good build-up for the World Cup,” said Waqar, who took over as coach in March last year.

“We have good momentum, having played South Africa recently and now this hard-fought win in New Zealand gives us good momentum for the World Cup.”

Team manager Alam expressed sadness at the bans but added, “We must move on from here, for the sake of our cricket.”

One-day captain Shahid Afridi, who earlier flew into Karachi from New Zealand, refused to answer questions on the bans.

Pakistan is in Group A of the 14-team World Cup which is hosted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka between February 19 and April 2. They open their campaign against Kenya in the Sri Lankan town of Hambantota on February 23.