Waqar Younis submitted a report with his recommendations in 2015 after World Cup and New Zealand tour. The report highlighted key issues that the team and the cricket structure faced in 2015 and Waqar put his suggestions to improve them.
The New Zealand Tour and World Cup 2015 Report
Unfortunately this tournament has ended with Pakistan’s ouster in the Quarter final against Australia which has left me deeply saddened and disappointed. It would have been great to have been on the winning side and come home with the World Cup trophy but I guess, in many ways more than one, I have come to realise our weaknesses and necessary changes required to compete at the International level in this new modern era of cricket. If we don’t make changes and move forward now, I’m afraid that Pakistan cricket will fall well behind all the other top cricketing nations.
I believe our preparation for the World cup and NZ tour was not ideal. In my opinion, I feel the timing of the domestic tournament just before our departure for NZ tour was detrimental to our preparations for the mega events. Our camp had many hindrances, including poor weather conditions, only 5 day camp but only utilising 3 days from it, social events, injury of Junaid Khan and the timing of the conclusion of the domestic tournament.
Although we had just finished a long tour in UAE, we lacked the opportunity to adjust to the conditions in New Zealand and Australia as the pitches, sizes of the grounds and weather were completely different and we required a longer period in these countries to adapt. It must be reminded, in 1992, Imran Khan led Pakistan team arrived in Australia long before the tournament. Wasim Akram had said something similar when we arrived for the tour. I also must mention that India was in Australia for almost three months, continuously losing but when the mega event began they had adjusted well to the conditions.
The New Zealand Tour
A very short tour including two warm up games which were poorly organised and not very beneficial for our preparation in a very short period not allowing us to completely recover from our jetlag and adjust to weather conditions.
Pakistan lost both ODIs to New Zealand who were in all forms a more dominant team including fitness, bowling, batting and fielding. Pakistan was completely exposed in conditions which were different to what they had been playing in. However, I would have expected our senior players who had a lot more experience to step up and guide the team as necessary.
Expectations were very high from Younis Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah ul Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Ahmad Shezad but unfortunately most of their performances were below par and could not perform consistently or when they were really required.Bilawal Bhatti was flown in to New Zealand as a last minute replacement for Junaid Khan for the New Zealand tour. For a young player who had not been exposed to many foreign tours and had spent minimal time with team previously or during the preparation for this tour, the pressure appeared to be too much for him. I still believe, he is a very talented young player who can be groomed to be a good all rounder for the future of Pakistan cricket.
The 2015 World Cup Tour of Australia and New Zealand
Our journey began for the mega event by us arriving in Sydney for two warm up games. Mohammad Hafeez was injured during the last game against New Zealand to which we were hoping he would recover by the time our first game against India came around. The injury did not heal and further scans performed by our physiotherapist Bradley Robinson confirmed an injury which would take at least three weeks or more to heal.
This was a major setback for the team as we were hoping that his bowling action test would be cleared and he will be able to play for us as an all rounder. After discussions with captain Misbah ul haq, chief selector Moin Khan, manager Naveed Akram Cheema, physiotherapist Bradley Robinson, and Head Coach Waqar Younis, it was an unanimous decision to send him back to Pakistan for rehabilitation.
As we only had one specialist opening batsmen, the chief selector Moin Khan with the consultation of Captain, Coach and Manager, decided to ask for Nasir Jamshed as a replacement for specialist opener.
Junaid Khan did not recover from his injury and hence the chief selector decided to replace him with Rahat Ali and send back Bilawal Bhatti.
Both Nasir jamshed and Rahat Ali arrived together on the morning of the England warm up game in Sydney.
As we were considering to play Nasir Jamshed against India because his previous record was outstanding against them, we decided to allow him to play the warm up game to adjust to the bounce because there were no further warm up games for him. Unfortunately he could not perform and thought it was better not to risk him as he had not adjusted to the conditions.
Team management comprising of coach, captain, manager and chief selector decided to play Younis Khan as an opener because we had no other option and looking at his experience we were hoping he would be able to give us a good start. This did not work.
Younis khan was given fair opportunity in the batting line up but could not live up to expectation which was extremely disappointing and a big loss.
Nasir Jamshed was given two games during the World Cup but failed to perform due to fitness and inadequate preparation for this tournament.
Sarfraz Ahmad is not a specialist opening batsmen, he is a make shift opener who was used as an opener in UAE where the pitches were slow and low and similar to home grounds so it was easier to perform there. Initially, Sarfraz was tried as an opener in the warm game but didn’t bat well and latter in the nets he was struggling against the bounce. He was low in confidence regarding the opening slot and if we had played him initially in the first few games it would have further deteriorated his confidence level. Sarfraz is a very talented cricketer who is gutsy and hard working and an asset for the team.
Shahid Afridi, our most senior player. Our expectations from him with bat and ball were very high. Afridi failed to deliver in all three departments. He did try hard but perhaps it being the last tournament for him, he felt the pressure and also could no longer compete at this level. Afridi has been a great server to Pakistan cricket for many years and I would have loved to have seen him leave on a high so the end result was very disappointing. He deserves a befitting farewell.
Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, our main nucleus of batsmen were very disappointing. Both players performed well below par and although they are talented players they can no longer to justify their place in the team the way they are playing at the moment. Both boys lack fitness, need to go back and play adequate amount of first class cricket and need to improve their attitudes towards the game and the country. Both boys have a personality clash to which I have discussed with them in detail but they have to realise they are not playing for themselves but for Pakistan.
Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil, and Yasir Shah, the heroes of World Cup 2015. I am extremely proud of these boys. Whenever they were asked to deliver they were not hesitant and stepped up whenever the team required it. They were all hardworking, listened and true team men. Sohail Khan has improved his fitness but requires more training. Unfortunately, the injury to Irfan came at the wrong time and perhaps the major setback for our team so close to the quarterfinal against Australia. Yasir Shah is a good team man, one for the future, can be an asset for the future of Pakistan.
Sohaib Maqsood and Harris Sohail. Both boys are very talented, showed glimpses of their ability in high pressure games and I believe with more experience, fitness, hard work and guidance can make the core of Pakistan middle order batting line up. I have spoken to the boys to continue their training and improve their fitness levels over the next couple of weeks.
Misbah ul Haq, a thorough gentleman who has made Pakistan proud on several occasions not only in this Wold Cup but over the last four years. Has led from the front with his batting and saved Pakistan many times but now the need for modern day cricket, which we are seeing in this World Cup, is to score around 300 or more to compete. Bowlers cannot always win you games alone with the new laws. Our batsmen need to play aggressive cricket rather than defensive cricket to win games.
All the support staff worked not only very hard but also with lots of passion with the boys. Grant Flower, Grant Luden, Mushtaq Ahmad, Bradley Robinson, Mohammad Talha and Shahid Aslam were always ready to help and guide the boys whenever they required it.
Pakistan team improved during the tournament both on field as well as off field, treating each other like family and bonded well. Dressing room atmosphere was warm, happy and nurturing. Discipline was well maintained throughout the tour and boys were great ambassadors for Pakistan. Perhaps if we had a couple of more weeks in Australia it would have allowed us to bond earlier and produce better results.
I am a very patriotic Pakistani and want Pakistan cricket to be at the top. I believe Pakistan has a lot of talent which requires to be groomed to be successful. I believe hard work and professionalism for myself and the team. I have a vision for Pakistan cricket but require us to all work together. Please see below my recommendations:
Present Pakistan Cricket team:
1. I would suggest Azhar Ali as future Pakistan ODI captain.
2. Start preparing players for next World Cup. If you feel they will not be part of the team in 2019 then perhaps we should not be considering them for the core players of the team.
3. It is an opportunity to groom young players for the upcoming Bangladesh and Sri Lanka tours. My recommendation is to select as many young players for these tours.
4. Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal should be advised to play first class cricket for at least a season before they are selected for Pakistan again.
1. Chief Selector should be someone who has played modern era cricket and has a positive vision and also does not select players by differentiating regions but just recognising the talent. In my humble opinion, I would recommend Rashid Latif or Inzamam ul Haq.
2. Selection criteria should include fitness and fielding standard as first priority.
3. Minimum of 2 months camp straight after the World Cup inviting top domestic young performers to develop a core of players.
4. Dietician to be involved during all camps and Junior tours.
5. NCA and other academies around the country need to become functional.
1. Domestic Cricket needs to be fixed.
2. Less teams to play first class cricket to improve the standard.
3. Pakistan “A” tours need to be organised on regular basis so we can groom our youngsters and give them overseas exposure.
4. Domestic cricket coaches need to be accountable for their teams and also their fitness.
5. Fielding and fitness is necessary at junior levels.
6. Players break down when on tours because of poor fitness level so we require good fitness trainers at all levels to maintain a certain standard.
7. Selected players should be sent to various international academies to gain experience and exposure.
8. Groom a new captain for the future.
Head Coach Pakistan Cricket Team