Waqar Younis warned today that cricket could die out in Pakistan if rival teams continue to boycott the country where international tours have not taken place since 2009.
There has been no international cricket in Pakistan since the militant attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009 which killed eight people and injured seven visiting players.
“The biggest hurt is that we are not able to stage international matches,” Pakistan head coach Waqar told AFP.
“I fear the game might die out as we lack talent at junior level and it’s tough to indulge kids in cricket. It’s a very important aspect, we have to bring international cricket back and the government has to help in this regard.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board managed to bring minnows Kenya for a short one-day series last year and are negotiating with Zimbabwe for a visit in May this year.
Waqar believes Pakistan’s quarter-final exit from the World Cup at the hands of Australia showed there is a lot of hard work to be done on the country’s cricket set-up and infrastructure.
“If we want to save Pakistan cricket we have to lift our domestic game because there was a big difference in standards at the World Cup. We were well behind other teams.
“We can’t delay it, we need power-hitters like there are in other teams and players who can score 300-plus runs,” said Waqar, whose team only crossed the 300-mark just once in seven games at the World Cup—against the amateurs of the United Arab Emirates.
“Cricket is changing fast and we have to keep pace with that, if not we will be left far behind.” Waqar stressed Pakistan needed good batsmen.
“Bowling has never been our problem,” said Waqar, himself a great fast bowler. “I think we should feel proud of our bowling at the World Cup.
“But it’s the batting where we have been struggling for a long time now and after Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan— whenever he quits—we will have a big vacuum.
“It is a matter of putting things in order. It’s not only about winning the World Cup but also improving our ranking by lifting our standards.”
Waqar said strict rules on bowling actions badly affected Pakistan’s build-up for the World Cup.
“Just before the World Cup, the International Cricket Council launched a crackdown and because of that we lost Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez,” said Waqar of his two key spinners who were suspended due to illegal actions.
“But now is the time we should lift ourselves because cricket has been our pride.”