Battle for PCB's coaching gigs: what we know so far

Several first-timers and some old-timers throw their names in the PCB’s hat.

By Web Desk
September 02, 2019
The role of head coach is of great value and thus, cannot be taken lightly. Photos: AFP

The role of various coaches — head and others — in Pakistan’s national cricket team setup is more important than you think or it should be.

Believe it or not, talent in trenches alone does not make a winning team in Pakistan cricket. The backroom staff wields enough influence to make good players go bad (not vice versa).

Therefore, who holds the head coaching position is of great value, and cannot be taken lightly, for this is where the overall direction of the team comes from. Even more so, now that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is seriously contemplating also handing the chief selector’s powers to the head coach.

With the deadline expired, this is what we know so far regarding who are main candidates and who’s leading the race.

Head coaching candidates

Misbah-ul-Haq

The former Pakistan captain is receiving mixed reactions since word of his application for head coach surfaced. Photo: AFP  

The former Pakistan captain is the odds-on favourite to land the gig even though he has no real coaching experience. He is currently the camp commandant of the national team and is expected to formally apply for the job today.

Some former cricketers, chiefly among who is Ramiz Raja, are against the idea of Misbah’ appointment because of his defensive approach, which they think is dated. However, his pristine reputation and rapport with the PCB has put him ahead of the competition.

At this point it’d be a bigger surprise if Misbah does not land the job than if he does.

Dean Jones

The former Australian cricketer has never coached a national team but does boast two titles as the head coach of the PSL franchise Islamabad United. Photo: AFP

The former Australian cricketer has been around long enough to know a lot about international cricket but he has never truly coached a top-level side.

He was made the interim head coach of the Afghanistan cricket team in October 2017 but it was for a single fixture and that too against Hong Kong.

Jones does, however, boasts two titles as the head coach of the Pakistan Super League franchise Islamabad United.

Mohsin Hasan Khan

Whenever there is a vacancy for the head coach's position in Pakistan cricket, you can bet that Mohsin Hasan Khan would be an applicant.

The cricketer-turned-actor-turned-thingamajig has applied for the role multiple times but his 'precious' has always fallen in someone else's lap.

He almost had the gig in Oct 2011 when he was named the interim coach at the end of Waqar Younis' first stint. However, the PCB appointed Dav Whatmore in early 2012 and Mohsin could not realise his long-held desire of graduating to the full-time job.

Having said that, Mohsin has held a variety of other positions in various PCB setups, including the chief selector and most recently, the Cricket Committee's chairmanship.

Unlike other candidates, Mohsin has not been as connected to the global game or coaching community, raising the question if he has what it takes to coach modern cricket to a new-age team.

Unless something drastic happens, it appears that Mohsin will again be left behind in the race to head coach.

Courtney Walsh

The towering Jamaican is one of the finest but like his competitors lacks experience. Photo: AFP

Of all the candidates, West Indies’ Courtney Walsh easily has the greatest stature, both physically and metaphorically. The towering Jamaican, one of the finest fast bowlers of his generation, is also a head coaching novice like the two above.

He, however, was Bangladesh’s bowling coach in the last three years. His contract expired at the end of the World Cup 2019, and he is now eyeing a step up the coaching ladder.

Bowling coach candidates

Waqar Younis

The pace legend's previous two stints did not end in glory thus, preventing the PCB from keeping him in the highest of prefrence. Photo: AFP

The pace legend recently confirmed that he has applied for the bowling coach’s position, although he also did not rule out another crack at the main gig.

As a two-time former head coach, Waqar would provide decent cover for Misbah’s inexperience, while in theory at least the pace unit would be richer with the addition of someone of his caliber.

But his experience and stature could also become a problem, especially when working under Misbah — someone who had worked under him the last time.

Waqar’s previous two stints did not exactly end in glory, which could also keep the PCB from looking in his direction.

Mohammad Akram

Since retiring, the Peshawar Zalmi coach has had a handful of coaching experience. Photo: Peshawar Zalmi Twitter   

He did not enjoy a stellar playing career but Mohammad Akram has been very active in the coaching circuit since retiring. He has been the national team’s bowling coach before and also held the same position at the National Cricket Academy.

But his biggest achievement as a coach is making the finals in each of the last three Pakistan Super League tournaments, one of which he won. Zalmi have consistently had one of the stronger bowling units in the tournament and Akram is credited for that.

He is also unlikely to overshadow and clash with Misbah — a threat that looms with rival Waqar.

Jalaluddin

Despite his lackluster international career, Jalaluddin holds several coaching badges both from the PCB as well as the ECB. AFP

The man who claimed the first-ever ODI hat-trick is also in the running. The hat-trick aside, Jalaluddin did not do anything significant in his international career, although he was a force to be reckoned with in the domestic circuit.

To his credit though, he has amassed several coaching badges, both from the PCB as well as the England and Wales Cricket Board. He was appointed the head of Pakistan women's selection committee in 2018. It remains unclear if he still holds that job.

It appears unlikely that the PCB would give Jalaluddin the nod when there are more prominent candidates in the running.

Yasir Arafat

His record as a domestic player does not shine as vividly as his country club side tournaments. Photo: BP 

Former all-rounder Yasir Arafat represented Pakistan in a handful of matches only but he has also reportedly applied for the team’s bowling coaching position.

In addition to his short international career (27 caps for Pakistan), Arafat does not appear to have any significant coaching experience.

However, what he could not do enough for country, he did for county sides over a number of years. In all, he represented six county club sides and also enjoyed stint(s) in Australia.

Would he make a decent bowling coach for Pakistan? He could be. But will he be given a chance? It is highly unlikely in Pakistan cricket, where ability to coach is gauged by own stature as a player.

Batting coach candidates

Faisal Iqbal

Faisal is the only candidate to apply for the position of batting coach but does not hold much of a reputation in the area. Photo: Twitter  

So far only Faisal Iqbal’s name has come out as a candidate for batting coach. He publicly acknowledged that he has applied for both the juniors’ and seniors’ batting coach positions.

Though still an active cricketer himself, Iqbal has served as a batting coach/consultant in T10 and T20 leagues. The most prominent position he has held is that of the Karachi Kings’ batting coach. The port city franchise has hardly impressed in the PSL and batting is one of its major weaknesses.

It would be a massive surprise of Iqbal was to land the Pakistan job. But then the PCB is full of surprises.

Mohammad Wasim

Twitter

When he scored a debut ton for Pakistan at the age of 19, many thought that Pakistan had found another gem. But the other, lesser Wasim did not quite live up to expectations.

After his Pakistan career got over, he took up Dutch nationality and even represented their national team in an ODI — a lesser known fact.

In 2018, he was appointed the head coach of the Swedish national cricket team. His stint with the Swedish side cannot be considered a success considering that they finished third in Group C of the 2018–19 ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier, and failed to advance to the next round. 

He has since found far greater success as a TV presenter and YouTube personality. 

Wasim has reportedly applied for two roles: the batting coach and PCB’s regional coach (h/t Faizan Lakhani).

He may still be a decent enough contender for the regional position but for the main batting gig, experts would still deem him underqualified.


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