A Rough Road for the Master of ‘Reverse Swing’

By Zeeshan Ahmed Khan

Waqar Younis has mostly been the talk of the town because of the controversies during his coaching career. He had tough relations with the team members and his statements regarding them spread like fire in the jungle.

Critics and media also criticized Waqar for his behavior and many allegations were put as the performance of Pakistani team remained below average during his tenure. Although his coaching career remained a little controversial but there is no doubt that he was a brilliant bowler. Great Waqar, with Wasim Akram, made an incredible bowling attack that created waves in the cricket world.

Waqar was a right-handed fast bowler but his mastery in the reverse swing was unmatchable. His excellence at this got him 416 wickets in one-day internationals and 373 in Test matches. Yorker specialist had a brilliant strike rate, only behind Dale Steyn. He was, in fact, is the only bowler to have five wickets in an innings for three consecutive ODI’s. Waqar was the one who had taken fastest 50, 300, 350 and 400 wickets in ODI’s.

The International Cricket Council has recognized him in the list of Hall of Fame. Waqar was named among the Wisden Cricketer of The Year in 1992 for his achievements. The right arm fast bowler gone on a long journey; he started his career from first-class cricket clubs back in 1987, faced an injury and lost his little finger but his passion for cricket grew more and more. Fast bowler got selected for international debut after only six matches with the national side; Imran Khan saw him playing against Delhi XI in Super Wills Cup and picked him out of the blue to play for Pakistan in an International match.

Waqar made his ODI debut against West Indies On Oct 14, 1989, and Test match debut against India on Nov 15, 1989, and took Tendulkar’s wicket. He also played county cricket and made huge fan following in English audience for his talent. He took 113 wickets in 582 overs for Surreys in 1991 and not only this but also won English County Championship in 1997 playing with Glamorgan.

Many fast bowlers have mastered by watching him, Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka in an interview said that “he learned his deadly Yorkers by watching Pakistan’s legendary pair of Wasim and Waqar”.

Waqar’s style was such a unique that it was called ‘banana swing’ and many allegations of foul play were raised but cricket world accepted it as a technique. He faced career set back in 1993 due to back injuries still his bouncers and short pitch deliveries kept him effective. Great Waqar had many points but sometimes he lacked consistency as he was full of aggression and speed. He had an amazing cricket career with tremendous bowling expertise.

Coaching has been a rough road for him ever since he started this career path. Pakistan Cricket Board appointed him to coach National Team in 2006 but after few months, he left the post on Jan 6, 2007, because PCB restricted him to coach for test matches only. In 2009, PCB contracted with him for the tour of Australia. Later in 2010, he was fully appointed as the head coach.

Although fast bowler really worked hard on the skills of the boys and also assisted them in winning a test match against Australia after fifteen years but the failure rate remained always high. Then the controversy related to Salman, Asif and Aamir was a major setback for Pakistan’s cricket itself that took place during his tenure. Waqar once again stepped down from the post in 2011 due to his personal reason; speculations were that he had a personal rift with Afridi.

Later in 2013, Waqar joined Indian Premier League as a coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad. In June 2014, PCB reappointed him as a coach and since then the performance of the team has been really poor therefore many questions have been raised against him.

Pakistan’s overall test record is better than both T20s and ODIs formats, critics telling that Great Waqar fails in his coaching to fulfill the demands of modern cricket. But will this be enough for upcoming cricket season? Coming Asia cup and World T20 2016 will let us know for sure.

As the Pakistan’s bowling attack covers every weakness in all other departments, but master of reverse swing couldn’t be able to bestow his skills to the world’s threatening bowling attack yet. Many critics believe that Waqar does not have the suitable temperament which is required for coaching and he should not walk on this path. He was a wonderful cricketer and Pakistan will always be proud of him but his coaching skills are not as superior as his bowling skills were.

Critics may say whatever they think but cricket lovers will always love Waqar for giving them wonderful moments through his outstanding bowling. Bowlers like Waqar are rare and Pakistani team was fortunate to have him.

The writer is a Broadcast Journalist and tweets at: @Zaadakhan