Fast bowling legend and former head coach Waqar Younis believes the time may be ripe for long-ignored batsman Fawad Alam to make a comeback to the national team.
Speaking to a TV channel on Wednesday, Waqar said he felt sad for Test cricketer Fawad, who continues to await a return to the team after getting ousted several times for unexplained reasons. Asked about the batsman’s glaring omission over the past few years, the former pacer said Fawad had the talent to make it into the team again, particularly after the middle-order void created by the retirement of legendary duo of Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan. “Look, there are only 15 players in the squad. I feel sad for Fawad. He is a talented player. But now with the middle-order vacancy created after Misbah and Younus’ retirement, he may be able to secure his spot in the team again,” he said. “He has travelled with the team before. Unfortunately he couldn’t avail opportunities in the way some other cricketers did. I hope he gets his place again.” Fawad sports a first-class average of 56 with 25 centuries in 135 games. His average of 41 in the only three Tests he has played and his ODI average of 40 make his repeated omission from the team even more baffling. Waqar said he believed Babar Azam, Umar Amin and Haris Sohail were also good contenders to fill Misbah and Younus’ boots. “They are all talented players but it will take a very long time to replace the legendary duo of Misbah and Younus,” the ‘Burewala Express’ was quick to add.
Quizzed on his thoughts regarding Umar Akmal’s recent outburst against coach Mickey Arthur, the second highest Test wicket-taker for Pakistan said he had no doubts about the middle-order batsman’s talent but that alone was not enough. “Umar needs to focus on his fitness. Talent alone is not good enough. Hard work, discipline and fitness are equally necessary,” he said, adding that he fully agreed with Arthur’s uncompromising stance on players’ fitness. “I have always stressed on fitness too. I’m glad to see Arthur putting his foot down on fitness. Those who fail the fitness tests should be sent home and asked to return after gaining the required fitness levels. I’m definitely with Arthur on this,” remarked Waqar. About the country’s domestic cricket infrastructure, Waqar said there was an urgent need to revamp the local stadiums and their pitches.