Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis regrets fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz abandoning the Test side last year “at the wrong time” before the tour to Australia.
Without their experience, Pakistan lost both Tests in Australia by an innings, each in four days. The inclusion of both left-arm pacers in the Twenty20 side didn’t fix much as Pakistan was also crushed in that series 2-0.
“Just before the series against Australia, they ditched us and we had the only choice to pick youngsters,” Waqar said on Monday during a video conference with media arranged by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
“We were the new management and decided to go with a younger lot and groom them. We cannot control players’ choice on what they want to play but then there should be a mechanism so we all are on board. It never should be like players leaving at the last moment and not taking anyone in the loop or giving enough time for backup.”
The 27-year-old Amir retired from Test cricket in July 2019 in order to extend his career in white-ball cricket. Wahab, 34, took an indefinite break in September from Test cricket. The tour began in November.
“It’s not like I am saying we could have won in Australia but we could have done better than what we have done,” Waqar said.
“But now we have a bench and we are building it up and expanding it so that we cannot face any problems going forward.
“It’s not like we have lost a lot, but yes they (Amir and Wahab) left us at the wrong time. But anyway, we don’t have any grudge against them. I still feel they have a lot to contribute in white-ball cricket and they should carry on playing for Pakistan. But we have got a lot of fast bowlers now.”
The choices include Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Musa and Mohammad Hasnain.
Like all other sports, cricket has been halted by the coronavirus pandemic, and Waqar said the Pakistan players have programs on how to stay motivated and fit, plus diet advice during the indefinite break from international matches.
“It depends how lengthy this (break) will be … if it’s a shorter one with another one or two months and things start to get normal, then it won’t hurt,” he said.
“But I will probably start to get worried after Ramadan and Eid (April-May), and if it goes further then that’s where I am afraid things will start to go out of hand, not for us but for the entire (cricketing) world.”
Cricketers such as Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and Sarfaraz Ahmed have posted videos of training at home on social media.
“These days, cricket doesn’t have gaps in between so this is the time a player can use to spend time with family and recharge his body,” Waqar said. “I love watching the boys challenging each other on social media on fitness and having a good time. Of course, it is not the same (when you have a longer break); you have to be in your groove when it is time (to play).”
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