Najam Sethi — “catalyst to decline of Pakistan cricket”: Waqar Younis

By Sarmad Ali

( Najam Sethi has proved to be a catalyst to decline of the Pakistan cricket, says Pakistani cricket team coach Waqar Younis in his report to the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shahryar Khan.

“Najam Sethi may have vested interests (in PCB) but he has no knowledge of cricket. For his own persona Sethi is contributing downfall of the Pakistani cricket team and he has made his own lobby in the PCB,” a source quoted the content of Waqar’s report.

The source said Najam Sethi managed to get the copy of his report and deleted the content about himself before handing over to media.

Now Waqar has announced to take his case to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and request him to send Sethi and others home for the better of the cricket.

Cricinfo has released some contents of Waqar’s report. It says Pakistan coach Waqar Younis, in a strongly worded and revealing report, has criticised the PCB’s decision of not giving him a say in the selection process during his tenure and has also lambasted the leadership style of Shahid Afridi, which he felt left the players confused. He also recommended that players like Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal be made to re-earn their place in the national squad with performances in domestic cricket.

A six-page report, a copy of which is available with ESPNcricinfo, covers an overview of his two-year term as coach and comprises 13 recommendations to help take Pakistan cricket forward. The report, which also touched on selection irregularities based on which Waqar reportedly resigned before the 2015 World Cup, was presented to PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan and later to PCB’s fact-finding committee.

The high performance manager’s post needs to developed to oversee all performances of coaches, selectors, trainers and physio at both international and domestic level

“My tenure has had mixed results with some good ones and others not so,” the report stated. “My aim for this report is not to shift the blame to any personal individual but to identify where things did not go right, where we could have improved, hindrances and recommendations which I hope are implemented for the betterment of Pakistan and its future.

“I had made a lot of recommendations after the 2015 World Cup, including sending some boys back to first-class cricket for at least a season so they can regain their hunger for the game and rethink their approach and attitude to play for Pakistan but no recommendation was implemented. I had also recommended a certain selector who I believed had a vision for modernised cricket and changes in the domestic set-up but it was all overlooked.

Haroon Rasheed was made chief selector after the World Cup and since then there have been so many changes on every tour, at times I feel they were stop-gap decisions, but to develop a team, you need to believe in your decisions and give them time.”

The report emphasised Umar Akmal’s troublesome attitude, recalling his move to abandon a focus on fitness and instead chose to catch a flight to the Caribbean without informing anyone, for his stint with the Guyana Amazon Warriors. “All the time he (Akmal) managed to retain his place back in the team. Is this the criteria we are setting for the selection of a new player? Andrew Symonds was a very talented player for Australia or Kevin Pietersen for England but due to their behavior they were dropped and never picked again irrespective of their talent.

“Are we bold enough to take this step or do we fear the media or pressure from different people to play certain players? I can assure you that sacrificing one Umar Akmal will allow us to develop other players who can truly and proudly wear the star on their chest and represent Pakistan.”

Reporting on Pakistan’s performance in the last five months, he wrote: “We lost to New Zealand, Asia Cup and the World T20 due to poor captaincy. Over several occasions, I had made it clear that Shahid Afridi was not performing with the bat, ball or as a captain but I was not listened to. Poor tactics, really cost us matches. A meeting was held after the New Zealand T20 series, where the boys emphasised that they felt confused with what the captain was telling them to do.”

Over several occasions, I had made it clear that Shahid Afridi was not performing with the bat, ball or as a captain but I was not listened to. There was no training by the boys during the PSL, it was more a holiday for them. They came to the Asia Cup tired and unfit WAQAR YOUNIS

“There was no training by the boys during the PSL (in Febuary), it was more a holiday for them. They came to the Asia Cup tired and unfit. Shahid Afridi didn’t attend few meetings, practice – and this is not how a captain leads from the front. It was unfair how he played Mohammad Nawaz during the game which destroyed the youngster’s confidence. He was so fixated on his own performance that he did not execute any game plan or use the right player at the right time. His sudden decision on changing the batting order or field placement did not help the team. He appeared to be under so much pressure and playing poorly as well, it really reflected poorly on the team.

“The whole team morale was down because they all felt the pressure from the captain. 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.”

Waqar also discussed the sudden recall of Shehzad after his prior exclusion from the squad, instead of Khurram Manzoor. “This was a complete knee-jerking reaction, how can you consider a player in one tour when you have dropped him in a previous tour? What is the criteria to be selected? To gain support from the media and then bring back into the team, this is bullying and not a good example for others to follow.”

Waqar also mentioned how Moin Khan, despite being a selector, was appointed by Najam Sethi as a manager to travel with the team during the 2015 World Cup. He said having Moin on the tour had undermined his role as head coach. “During 2015 World Cup and on the previous tour as well, Moin Khan use to take specific boys out till late night and also take them places to get free gifts which at times, undermined my authority. Umar Akmal continuously used to get Moin to request me for him, not to participate in training practice, similar to the incidents that took place with Imran Khan and also his ongoing whinging and complains with a number of other ex-players.

“Moin and his wife were eventually caught at a casino in the early hours of a morning which eventually led to him being sacked and sent home in the middle or the tour. We cannot continue to allow incidents to occur to tarnish our image.” – Pak Destiny

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