Pakistan may play two spinners on slow, sluggish England pitches: Waqar
Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis Tuesday said the nature of pitches in England has changed and it gives them the option of playing two spinners when the Test series begins in hot conditions next month.
During an online media interaction, Waqar said the ongoing England-West Indies series has shown that the pitches at Southampton and Manchester are now slow and sluggish.
“We will see how the pitch behaves in the third Test between West Indies and England at Manchester but there is no doubt that the behaviour of pitches has changed in England,” Waqar said. “Early to say who will play but we have got an idea after the West Indies Test matches. We are trying to prepare those players who can be effective on such pitches. We are looking at all option look at weather as well it gets hot in August and we might even have to think about playing two spinners as well.”
The former pacer said the team management will keep an eye on the third Test as well. Pakistan’s first Test against England begins from August 5 at Manchester.
Waqar said he has moved on from the hurt caused by Amir’s Test retirement last year and considers the pacer a crucial part of the national team’s plans going forward.
Having initially pulled out due to the birth of his second child, Amir made himself available for next month’s T20 series against England on Monday. Waqar welcomed him back and touched upon the anger he felt at Amir’s Test retirement ahead of a tour of Australia last year.
“Amir remains part of our plans for the future as he is experienced. We want to utilise him if he is up to the mark, if he can win matches for Pakistan. Next year we have the World Cup,” Waqar said in an online media interaction. “It hurt at that time when he decided to retire from Test cricket but we have to move on and do what is best for the country.”
Waqar defended the decision to call Amir to join the squad in England to replace Haris Rauf. “We called Amir because he is part of our white ball cricket plans. And if we felt this was the ideal opportunity to assess all our bowlers going forward. It is not about this series but also about future commitments including the World Cups coming up,” Waqar said. “We want to see how he is bowling as we want to get a fair idea of which bowlers to take forward and assess them all,” he added.
Waqar admitted that he and head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq were upset when Amir announced his sudden retirement from Test cricket last year as both felt he was required on the tour to Australia.
“We were not happy but bringing him back I think is a positive move. The young bowlers will learn from him. We are clear in our mind no bowler is indispensable for the team. But I think his presence will help in the competition among the pace bowlers in the training camp in England,” he added.
Waqar also rejected suggestions that it was difficult for a fast bowler to compete in all formats given the workload. “I just look at this way if a bowler is fit, strong and loves taking wickets. He can play all the time. But I guess this is an individual decision,” he said.
Younis said he was surprised that the pacers didn’t face much problems despite not using saliva to shine the ball during the England-West Indies series.
“I had doubts about what will happen to bowlers not being able to use saliva because it is a habitual thing and I have been a fast bowler myself. But I think it is working quite nicely. The difference in cricket balls also matters. The Duke ball is harder and it can be shined through sweat as well and the pitches were slow and sluggish in the West Indies tests but the ball did seam and move around and no bowler has complained as yet. It is workable. It did work. I feel it can be done.”
Waqar said Pakistan’s track record in England was good and he remained optimistic that the team will not disappoint in the coming series. “I am sure we will not let our supporters and followers down. We will try to make them proud of us with our performances.”
Waqar had recently termed India skipper Virat Kohli as a benchmark for youngsters to follow in fitness and performances.
Asked if any Pakistan players matched up to Kohli’s fitness standards, he said: “Kohli is one of the top athletes but I think our boys are not far behind specially Babar Azam who is very fit and he is also delivering goods with his performances. Shaheen Shah is another one who is super fit.”
He admitted that the players when they came to England after spending nearly three months in isolation because of the Covid-19 pandemic had been rusty.
“But right now in the training camp they are getting better and we are working hard on ensuring their fitness levels meet those standards required in world cricket,” he added.