Hope to see ‘unfortunate’ Fawad Alam back in team: Waqar Younis

'Fawad, Babar Azam, Umar Amin and Haris Sohail strong contenders to fill Misbah/Younis vacancy'

Ebad Ahmed
Maria Shamim
Waqar Younis at Geo's studio

KARACHI: 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 Geo.tv on Wednesday, Waqar said he feels sad for Test cricketer Fawad Alam, 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 has the talent to make it into the team again, particularly after the middle-order void created by the retirement of legendary duo of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.

“Look, there are only 15 players in the squad. I feel sad for Fawad Alam. He is a talented player. But now with the middle-order vacancy created after Misbah and Younis’ retirement, he may be able to secure his spot in the team again,” Waqar said.

'I feel sad for Fawad Alam. He is a talented player'

“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 Alam 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 believes Babar Azam, Umar Amin and Haris Sohail are also good contenders to fill Misbah and Younis’ boots.

“They are all talented players but it will take a very long time to replace the legendary duo of Misbah and Younis,” 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 has no doubts about the middle-order batsman’s talent but that alone is not enough.

“Umar Akmal 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 agrees with Arthur’s uncompromising stance on players’ fitness.

'Umar Akmal needs to focus on his fitness. Talent alone is not good enough'

“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 is an urgent need to revamp the local stadiums and their pitches.

“We need to focus on improving our stadiums, especially now that international cricket is returning to Pakistan. After World XI, more teams will follow, and our grounds need to be prepared for that,” he said, adding that there was also need to improve the home pitches.

“We won the Champions Trophy and that is great. But that does not mean everything is perfect here. We must continue to improve our domestic cricket,” he stressed.