Waqar Younis said that as a head coach he believed in being a good man manager © AFP
Waqar Younis said that as a head coach he believed in being a good man manager © AFP

Karachi: Pakistan cricket’s head coach Waqar Younis has hit out at critics and former players branding him as “arrogant” and “revengeful” and said he was a totally patriotic Pakistani.

In an exclusive interview on Geo Super sports channel on Monday night, Waqar was responding to questions that he is arrogant with players and that he has an axe to grind with senior players who played alongside him.

“Look, the moment I hung up my cricket kit I came down to earth. And living in Australia the comedown was faster. I know I am not Waqar the player anymore and I am not arrogant at all with the players in fact I am very friendly with them,” he said.

“But yes I don’t make compromises on training and cricket because if you start making compromises in these areas than Pakistan cricket will never move forward,” the former captain said.

Waqar said that as a head coach he believed in being a good man manager and was on friendly terms with the players in the team.

“It is wrong to say I look down on anyone or can’t forget I was a superstar once.” He also made it clear he had no grudge against any senior player.

“Yes I believe that as a coach you shouldn’t have players in the side who have played with you but I have never willingly tried to end anyone’s career. I would be mad to drop a player who is performing for the team. Because who doesn’t like success.”

Waqar said that the players making such allegations against him now while sitting as experts on television were at times very unfair and harsh in their comments about him.

“I can take both fair and harsh criticism. But the truth is that these allegations of me hatching a plan to drop senior players is not correct. The players who went out including Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Yousuf or Shoaib Akhtar were on the downhill of their careers when they were dropped.”

Asked if he felt it was unfair to drop Shoaib Akhtar from the World Cup semi-final against India in 2011, he said Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul had been bowling well with Razzaq and two spinners doing good as well.

“So we had to drop Shoaib and the truth is at that time he was struggling to complete even three overs and Wahab vindicated his selection by taking five wickets.”

Waqar also felt that Shoaib Akhtar could have taken many more wickets if he had taken care of himself and his body. “As a fast bowler you need to take care yourself, which Shoaib unfortunately didn’t do.”

Waqar said the critics and former players who made harsh or below the belt comments on the media were hurting Pakistan cricket nor helping it forward.

Waqar made it clear that he wanted to see more younger and new players in the side as they would in a few months time vindicate the investment made in them and also bring energy and better fitness and fielding standards to the team.

“I have always been a big believer that you need to have three or four young and new players with the seniors so that they can be groomed accordingly and be ready to take over places of seniors when they retire.”

He noted that India had followed this policy which is why their batting remained a strength. The former fast bowler also said that he was disappointed that his confidential report after the World Cup was leaked from the cricket board.

“It is not right that something you have shared in confidence with the board is leaked out this way. But I can say the way my report has been portrayed it is not like that.”

“I have used no harsh words for anyone and I have been careful in my summarisation. But I have said what needs to be said because some players need to develop more cricket awareness and need to go back to domestic cricket and work on that aspect of their game. Pakistan team needs to have players with the right attitude as the other teams are now moving ahead very fast and if we don’t work on our apparent weaknesses we will be left behind.”

Waqar said Pakistan’s cricket was exposed in the World Cup. “We have been exposed in the World Cup. Our fielding was exposed badly, our batsmen struggled and our fitness standards were not up to the mark. My priority is to have players with the right fitness and fielding standards.”

He said he would make no compromises on these two things even if a player had good cricket skills. “I want players who are hungry to do well who are hungry to improve their attitude and fitness. That is the only way forward for us now.”

Waqar said the Pakistan cricket board also needed to work on improving its domestic cricket and sending the second string and upcoming players on A team tours to countries like Australia, England or South Africa.

“Until we play in sub-continental conditions our team is fine and will do well but the moment our players go to other countries they lose the plot and struggle. Even if the board has to spend money it should to regularly give exposure to young players in Australia, England, South Africa or New Zealand through reciprocal tours.”

He said there was only one way of improving domestic cricket and that was to reduce the first class competition to eight to ten teams at best. “Too many teams make things difficult for us. We need quality in our first class structure.”

Waqar also talked about his relationship with Wasim Akram and said the players Pakistan had in the 90s were extremely talented but with ego problems.

“I think our greatest era was the 90s when we had so many world class players and it led to ego problems in the dressing room. But when we went out on the field all these problems were put aside and we just wanted to do well for the team.”

Waqar said at one time he and Wasim were not on talking terms for one and half year but on the field they both supported each other.

The Pakistani coach also apologised to those people who felt he had been unfair to wicketkeeper-batsman, Sarfraz Ahmed during the World Cup.

“I apologise if anyone thinks I was wrong but the truth is the decision to not play Sarfraz in the initial matches of the World Cup was not just mine the chief selector, captain and manager were all on the same page because in the run up matches to the World Cup Sarfraz appeared to have lost confidence with the bat and I didn’t want to push him and hurt his career.

“We played him when we had no choice after Nasir Jamshed failed constantly. But even than my preference was to have Sarfraz bat down the order. He is a brilliant and courageous player and a match winner. I enjoy watching his cricket and there is no question of any problems with him. These players are like my younger brothers. The present Pakistan team has one of the best dressing room environment.”