Dubai: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s plans to put Pakistan back on the road to cricket supremacy has commenced with home-grown and reputed cricketers being appointed as the national team’s coaches. Former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq, who had given Pakistan the much-needed consistency, have not only been appointed as head coach but also the chief selector.
Former captain and legendary pacer Waqar Younis, who had also earned many laurels for the team as the team’s head coach twice, has been made the bowling coach. Haq thus becomes the most powerful man in Pakistan cricket with a dual role — he takes over the high pressure job of the chief selector from Inzamam-ul-Haq.
The Misbah and Waqar combination may go on to create sensation as Waqar carries with him the experience of being the national coach team twice even when Misbah was the Pakistan captain. It is learnt that Imran, who captained Pakistan to their lone 50-overs World Cup win in 1992, had a meeting with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials and asked its members to chalk out a blueprint to lift Pakistan to the top and also design strategies to bring international cricket back to Pakistan. Both Misbah and Waqar has been given a three-year-contract.
Incidentally, Misbah was a late applicant for the post as he was to take charge as Islamabad United team as head coach in the Pakistan Super League. Misbah pipped Dean Jones and Moshin Khan, who had also applied for the post. Waqar, who personally appeared for the interview, won the bowling coach’s post with Mohammad Akram, who was among the shortlisted candidates, withdrawing his application at the last moment.
In a bid to ensure transparency in the functioning of the PCB, Imran has formed a five-member panel with two former cricketers: Intikhab Alam, Bazid Khan with Asad Ali Khan, Wasim Khan (chief executive, PCB) and Zakir Khan (director — international cricket) for the recruitment process of the coaches.
PCB had plans to appoint a batting coach too and had names like Mohammad Wasim and Faisal Iqbal in the fray but following renowned batsman Misbah’s appointment as head coach, they have cancelled this post.
The Misbah-Waqar coaching stint will begin with the three-ODI and three-T20I home series against Sri Lanka. Pakistan will then play the first series of the World Test Championship by taking on Australia from November in Brisbane.
Addressing the media after taking up the dual role, Misbah said: “I know expectations are high, but I am absolutely ready and up for the task, otherwise I would not have thrown my name in the hat for one of the most challenging and coveted roles in Pakistan cricket.”
Misbah is Pakistan’s most successful captain, having led the team to 24 wins in 53 Tests, having lost 18 and drew 11. Waqar, who was known as ‘Burewala Express’, had bagged 373 wickets from 87 Tests and 416 wickets from 262 ODIS.