Pakistan’s Waqar blames Afridi for exit

Waqar Younis and Shahid Afridi

Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis’ contract ends in May while captain Shahid Afridi’s future is unclear

Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis has blamed Shahid Afridi’s “poor captaincy” for the country’s group-stage exit from the World Twenty20.

In a critical six-page report to the Pakistan Cricket Board, Waqar said he did not want to “shift the blame to any personal individual but to identify where things did not go right”.

The 2009 champions beat Bangladesh, but suffered defeats by India, New Zealand and Australia and were jeered by fans.

Waqar’s current contract ends in May.

Despite claiming he was not singling out individuals, Waqar made critical comments relating to Afridi’s captaincy and the troublesome attitude of batsman Umar Akmal.

Waqar’s report contained the following claims:

  • He said he made it clear that Shahid Afridi was not performing with the bat, ball or as a captain but was not listened to.
  • His authority as coach was undermined by having selector Moin Khan appointed to travel with the team to to the 2015 World Cup.
  • Akmal should not be considered an automatic selection; and Pakistan would be better served developing players who are proud to represent their country.
  • Haroon Rasheed’s stint as chief selector has resulted in too many “stop-gap” decisions as squads are changed significantly between each tour.
  • The players arrived at the Asia Cup T20 tournament in February “tired and unfit” because they did not train during the Pakistan Super League season: “It was more a holiday for them,” Waqar wrote.
  • Captain Afridi was “unfair” in the way he used Mohammad Nawaz as a bowler in an Asia Cup T20 game against Sri Lanka in March, which “destroyed the youngster’s confidence” as he was hit for 38 runs off three overs.

Waqar, who “begged forgiveness from the nation” on Tuesday, has also given the PCB a list of 13 recommendations, according to Cricinfo. They include:

  • Making the head coach part of the selection committee.
  • Ensuring the chief selector is someone who has played top-level cricket in the modern era.
  • Bringing in dieticians to be involved during all squad camps and junior tours.
  • Making fitness and fielding ability the two priorities when selecting players.
  • Educating players on the importance of maintaining dressing room confidentiality so that private team discussions are not leaked publicly.
  • Players should be educated regarding maintaining confidentiality.
  • Restructuring domestic first-class cricket to help the national team, with fewer teams to bring about higher standards.
  • Involving former players at domestic level to help youngsters.

The team were jeered on their return to Lahore airport, with huge crowds chanting “Shame! Shame!”

Former fast bowler Waqar, in charge as head coach for a second time, suggested that Akmal was finding it too easy to retain his place despite questionable behaviour.

Waqar was angry that the batsman missed a training camp in Lahore last year to play for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League.

The coach wrote: “Are we bold enough to take this step or do we fear the media or pressure from different people to play certain players?

“Andrew Symonds was a very talented player for Australia or Kevin Pietersen for England, but due to their behaviour they were dropped and never picked again irrespective of their talent.”

Captain Afridi, 36, is expected to announce soon whether he will be retiring from internationals.

Waqar added: “We lost to New Zealand, Asia Cup and the World Twenty20, due to poor captaincy.

“No matter how many times I talk to the players, it is the captain who has to lead the boys on the field and execute the plan.”

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