These are difficult times, says Waqar

Lahore: Pakistan bowling coach and legendary pacer Waqar Younis is not worried about the long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he hopes cricket will resume soon after the world has seen the end of the deadly virus which has wreaked havoc and has claimed thousands of lives.

“I don’t think this would do any harm. At the moment, it is important for us all to stay home and beat the virus. I am in touch with my bowlers and they are doing their workout and fitness programmes at home. I am hopeful cricket will resume soon after we have beaten this virus,” Waqar told reporters on Monday via video conferencing.

Australia coach Justin Langer has said that once conditions are safe and the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic ends, cricket should resume behind closed doors because that will give fans something to rejoice as they are now faced with a situation where there is no sporting action happening.

Asked about his opinion on the same, Waqar said it is too early to talk about it as situation is still very serious across the globe.

“I don’t think cricket should start. These are difficult times. We should not think about cricket now, maybe after things get normal we can. It’s too early to think about cricket right now.”

He was also asked about fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz not wanting to play Tests in a bid to prolong their careers in shorter formats, and he said it did impact their tour of Australia as their experience was missed.

The Test pace attack — hampered by the untimely retirement of Amir and Riaz — earlier saw 16-year-old Naseem Shah and 19-year-old Musa Khan who till then played just five and seven first-class matches respectively to be blooded in. Naseem did really well Down Under with Waqar saying he can be in top three bowlers if he stays fit in the near future.

“Misbah (ul haq) also spoke about it. There has to be a policy. You can’t stop them from their decisions. In Australia, we were weaker without Wahab and Amir. Not saying we would have won but yes it was a setback.”

“But we have good backup and a pool of pacers who are doing well. We need 5-6 matured bowlers for Tests. In white ball cricket, you need more bowlers who can share the workload. We have that and in the Pakistan Super League, I identified some who can be added to the pool.”

The 48-year-old said since he took over the job, he saw major changes in Pakistan’s bowling while pointing out that things are going in the right direction.

“It has been 5-6 months since I have taken the job. I have seen major changes in these bowlers and they will get better with experience, but they have good skills. Naseem Shah, if he stays fit, he will be in top three. Shaheen Shah (Afridi) is getting better, things are going in the right direction.”

Waqar also said he has good working relation with former captain and now head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.

“It (egos) is a myth. I am always there to help. When I was coach and he was captain, we got along well and now it is the same.”

Balasubramani Muniyandi