Jun 10, 2020
Younis Khan said he had been given a “great opportunity” in being offered the role of batting coach for the upcoming tour of England. Khan, who has not worked officially with the PCB since he retired in 2017, will find himself reunited with Misbah-ul-Haq, who retired alongside him after Pakistan completed a historic series victory against the West Indies. This means after almost a year without a batting coach, Pakistan’s batsmen will have Khan to turn to in England on their first tour since the Covid-19 pandemic shut all cricket down.
It was that abiding memory of setting off into the sunset with Misbah that Khan chose to draw upon, saying he felt proud Misbah had chosen him for the role ahead of a tour he believed has always been challenging for Pakistan. “Misbah and I left cricket together, and what pleases me most is we left on a winning note by winning in the West Indies for the first time,” he said via a video press conference. “He was captain and I was acting captain in a way, by constantly being in the ear of the bowlers. I would love to start off [from] where we finished in the West Indies.
“I’d love to share the dressing room with coaches who were my colleagues in cricket. I’ve played under bowling coach Waqar Younis’ captaincy, as well as under Misbah ul Haq’s captaincy and I was part of a team with Mushtaq Ahmed in the early 2000s. Those who learn from the past and move forward are successful. And we’d like to forget what happened in the past instead of resting on our achievements, and I feel proud to think Misbah chose me to be his partner in the coaching setup and be the side’s batting coach in England.”
Misbah’s stratospheric rise at the PCB from retired player to head coach and chief selector after the 2019 World Cup raised concerns he had too much on his plate, particularly in the absence of a batting coach since Grant Flower’s contract was not renewed. That, it was believed, effectively added yet another role Misbah would have to undertake, and there were no signs until now the PCB was looking to appoint someone to fulfil that position. The appointment of Khan is a bespoke one for the England tour, with no word yet on whether a more permanent appointment is imminent.
Khan, however, felt the fact that a batsman of Misbah’s calibre had worked with the side for almost 12 months made his job all the easier. “What is important is I don’t want the players to become double minded or end up giving them conflicting instructions. In the Pakistan batting lineup, Azhar Ali or Asad Shafiq aside, you see a very young team. It wouldn’t help if we confused or over-coached them, and I wouldn’t want to contradict what Misbah has taught them; I’d rather work within what Misbah’s style is and work accordingly.
“Currently, I have a great opportunity. Misbah ul Haq has worked with this side for a year. So the fact that a top batsman has worked with these guys for a year makes the job easier for me. A year or so ago, the PCB tried to give Misbah a big responsibility, and now they’ve started to bring in support staff like myself and Mushtaq Ahmed.”
This isn’t the first time the PCB has tried to avail the services of Khan, who is the highest run-scorer in Test cricket in Pakistan’s history. Last year, the PCB were in talks with the former batsman that would have seen him take up a role in the Under-19 coaching setup, only for those plans to fall through following disagreements on both finances and job profile. ESPNcricinfo understands the PCB were only willing to give him a role as a coach, while Khan wanted more say in selection. Khan’s relationship with the PCB has been fairly tempestuous over his career, with several high-profile public bust-ups, but it appears, for now, as if the board and the former batsman see eye to eye.
“Wasim Khan approached me in a very professional way,” he said. “And I told him whatever my remit was, I needed to know upfront, and I am clear about what my role is. That’s important because you need to know when to speak up and when to step aside. I left the Pakistan captaincy because I asked Ijaz Butt to appoint me captain for the 2011 World Cup. But when it looked like that wasn’t working out, I voluntarily resigned from the captaincy.
“The runs I scored and what I did in my career is over. If I can serve this team well, then that will be a fresh achievement. What’s important is to create a bond with these players. When I got into the side, I was warmly welcomed by a host of great players like Rashid Latif, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam ul Haq, and I want to serve these players and make them feel valuable just as I was made to feel valuable all those years ago. I don’t want there to be an environment where a young player feels there’s a big difference in status between me and them. I’d like to be their guide and role model. That’s the mentality with which I’m approaching this job.”
Khan was cognisant of the limited time he had to work with the players, in addition to the extra challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with social distancing and restrictions on players could meet in person potentially serving as further impediments to full preparation ahead of the England tour.
“All sports are struggling and new standard operating procedures are being created. It will be difficult for players, for example, who have got used to shining the ball using saliva and other SOPs that they are not used to. Players at times act instinctively, but as supporting staff, we have an important role. It’s a challenge for me too, because we don’t have much time between now and the England series. Touring England is a challenge for all Pakistan teams, and more so now given we all know the quality England have of late.
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“I don’t want to make excuses by saying I don’t have enough time, but these are unusual times. Even if you are to engage with players, you need to keep your distance from them and continue to follow SOPs. We couldn’t even conduct our training camp as normal, and even when we travel we will have to keep our distance from other players. I want to try and get my experience across to the players and for them to be able to benefit from it in the short time we have between now and the England tour. Where there’s a will, a lot can be achieved in a very short span of time.”
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