In a shocking development, the national cricket team’s head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis have stepped down from their respective roles, just a month before the 2021 T20 World Cup.
The duo, appointed in September 2019, departed a year before the expiration of their contracts.
Both coaches communicated their decisions to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) late Monday morning, barely an hour after the squads for the T20i series against New Zealand, and England, as well as for T20 World Cup was announced.
PCB has appointed Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdul Razzaq to replace the outgoing coaches for the New Zealand series. The hunt for a permanent replacement will start in October. With a little more than a month in the T20 World Cup, the cricket board is less likely to find a replacement, and the national team might go into the mega event under Saqlain and Razzaq.
New Zealand is due to arrive on September 11 for the three ODI and five T20I series, after which, England will play two T20is in Pakistan on October 13 and 15.
While former spin maestro has an extensive background as a spin bowling coach around the world, this would be his first stint as a head coach with any international cricket team. He is currently the Head of International Player Development at the National High-Performance Centre. Abdul Razzaq, on the other hand, has no coaching background at the global level. His domestic side, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, however, won all three domestic trophies in the 2020-21 season.
Speaking about his sudden departure, Misbah said, as quoted by the PCB, “The quarantine in Jamaica post the West Indies series provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the past 24 months as well as the schedule for international cricket ahead. Considering that I would have had to continue to spend considerable time away from my family and that too in a bio-secure environment, I have decided to step down from the role.
“I understand that the timing may not be ideal but I don’t think I am in the right frame of mind for the upcoming challenges and it makes sense for someone fresh to step in and take the side forward.”
He said that he enjoyed his time with the national side and thanked the team as well as the management for their support. Misbah also wished the national side luck for the forthcoming events and promised his unwavering support.
Former bowling legend Waqar Younis had similar remarks on his resignation. He said he had taken up the post with Misbah, worked as a team with him, and decided to leave when the former was willing to go.
“Working with the Pakistan bowlers, including the youngsters, has been most satisfying as they have now started to show progress. Bio-secure environments in the past 16 months have had their impact, something we had never experienced during our playing days.”
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wasim Khan said he understands and respects their decision.
“Cricket in this unprecedented bio-secure world has not been easy for anyone and Misbah has clearly taken into account the intense six months of non-stop cricket ahead,” he said.
Wasim hoped that the national cricket team would fair well under the interim coaching set up against New Zealand.