The days of Waqar versus Wasim
Posted online: Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 1651 hours IST
Centurion, March 2, 2003: India had an unacknowledged helper in their emphatic win over Pakistan here on Saturday: the Pakistan team, which self-destructed in an act of epic proportions as team members collapsed on each other with a venom they should have saved for their opponents.
Intrigue and backbiting have long been a part of the Pakistani game, the factions usually divided between those from Lahore and those from Karachi. Only the charismatic, regal Imran Khan could scramble together something akin to team unity.
The team was split — almost down the line — between loyalty to Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram (and, apparently, only Inzamam was trusted by both as interlocutor). Those on Akram’s side were Azhar Mahmood, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Anwar, Mohammad Yusuf, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq. Indeed, before the tournament began the Pakistani media had widely reported that six senior players in the side had written to the Board about their unwillingness to play under Waqar for the the World Cup.
Well, perhaps the PCB had taken it literally because some of them did not get much of a look-in in the tournament. All-rounder Azhar Mahmood, for one. And young tearaway pace bowler Mohammed Sami, whose path was blocked by the skipper. There was good news for Sami: Serious doubts were being raised over Waqar’s future, despite his 400-plus one-day wickets. But the main sticking point — and most visible on the field that day — was the breakdown of communications between Akram and Waqar. To put it bluntly, they did not talk to each other. As the Indians batsmen were launching their assault on the Pakistan bowling, the two veterans — with more than 600 ODIs between them — were speaking through Inzamam. So, when Akram didn’t like a particular fielding placement for his bowling, he would shout the instructions to Inzamam standing in the slips, who in turn would pass the message to the skipper.
And, as the game slipped away and the tempers rose, Inzamam could be seen on more than one occasion standing between the two warhorses. All this would have been a treat for the Indian batsmen. But worse was to come. Shahid Afridi, unhappy with a field placing, chose to complain to Akram rather than consult his skipper. And then bowled a leg line though Waqar had packed the off-side.
The troubles were not just on the field. The Pakistan board had given strict instructions that spouses wouldn’t be allowed to accompany the players. The first person to break the rule was Saqlain Mushtaq, who checked his wife in at a hotel near where the team was staying. This was followed by Waqar and Afridi following suit, adding fuel to the already burning camp. When Pakistan’s British coach Richard Pybus was asked about the difficulties of keeping together this talented but unpredictable side all he said — with typical droll humour — was “One thing is sure, it never gets boring”.
A former Pakistan international, now an ICC official, revealed an interesting conversation with his country’s World Cuppers in South Africa. “I had asked the players about their ambitions during the tournament. Shoaib spoke about reaching the 100mph mark, Akram told me about his goal of taking 500 wickets. No one talked about winning the Cup,” he said.
comments: Well i do remmember a PCB official who worked under Tauqir Zia coming on Geo Super and actually revealing on Bolain Kya Baat Hai that the PCB then asked the ICC whether they can appoint Wasim Akram as captain for the 2003 WC but the ICC said no based on the recommendations of the Malik Qayyum 2000 report. He also spoke that there was a players revolt against Waqar Younis and 6-8 players were hurriedly called to Lahore to defuse the volatile situation before things got public, apparently these 6-8 players had blatantly refused to play under Waqar but had no choice in the end as Wasim couldnt be appointed Captain.
Sad our players put their own differences and interests above the team.