Difficult times for Pakistan cricket, says Waqar

Abu Dhabi: Pakistan cricket is going through difficult times with poor form shown by batsmen coming on top of the suspensions of three key bowlers, coach Waqar Younis said.

Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last month following revelations of spot-fixing on the tour of England.

Appeals against these suspensions by Butt and Aamer were being held in Dubai today and tomorrow. Asif withdrew his appeal after initially deciding to challenge the sanction.

The suspensions followed reports in British newspaper ‘News of the World’, claiming several Pakistani players obeyed orders from an alleged book-maker during the Lord’s Test against England in August.

Waqar said Pakistan badly missed the trio in their neutral venue series against South Africa here, losing the Twenty20 series 2-0 and trailing 1-0 in the five-match one-day series.

“I must say that Pakistan cricket is going through a serious tough time,” Waqar said after his team’s eight-wicket defeat against South Africa here yesterday.

“We lost a few players after the England tour and its been a little tough at the moment and I think that is one big reason that we are struggling,” said Waqar, who took over as coach in March this year.

“I sincerely hope that the players are cleared and are available to play for Pakistan because they are key players.”

Also missing from the team is wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal, reportedly under investigation for match-fixing. Kamran was not selected for the tour after undergoing an appendicitis operation earlier this month.

“I am concerned. As I said losing four players from your top eleven is never easy,” Waqar said. “Of course its not an ideal situation with the World Cup just four months away.”

Waqar urged his batsmen to improve their performances.

“South Africa will get tougher and tougher and if we don’t put up good totals on the board it will become difficult for us to beat them,” added Waqar of team’s batting.

Pakistan will also play two Tests -- one each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi -- after the one-day matches in a series shifted to United Arab Emirates because of security fears.


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