LAHORE: Legendary fast bowler and former head coach Waqar Younis believes Pakistan Super League has brought significant improvement in Pakistan’s Twenty20 cricket and has constantly been throwing new talent to the fore.
Pakistan topped the ICC T20I rankings in November 2017 after two editions of the PSL and have been the number-one side since January 2018, an improvement Waqar thinks is primarily due to the annual PSL.
“I think if you look at the shorter version, you feel there are significant improvements and that are mainly due to the PSL,” said Waqar, who is the director for defending champions Islamabad United.
Waqar was Pakistan’s coach when the PSL’s first edition was held in 2016. He left the job soon after Pakistan’s unsuccessful World Twenty20 campaign in India.
Waqar said PSL introduces new talent for Pakistan and then it’s the PCB who has to take them to newer heights.
“Every PSL throws some good talent, there are some good players who have come to the fore from Islamabad United,” said Waqar of the franchise who won the inaugural event in 2016 and doubled their tally in 2018.
Islamabad United has groomed Shadab Khan, Rumman Raees, Faheem Ashraf, Sahibzada Farhan and Ammad Butt.
Waqar singled-out lanky paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi as one of the stars who matured in the PSL.
“I am very impressed with Shaheen Shah Afridi,” said Waqar of the paceman from Landi Kotal, whose five-wicket haul against Multan Sultan in 2018 caught the eyes of the selectors and current head coach Mickey Arthur.
“I think after the emergence of the players from the PSL, then PCB’s responsibility increases – to groom these players. This is a stepping stone and you see U19 players who are coming through,” said Waqar.
Islamabad United have talented U19 all-rounder Nasir Nawaz and National Twenty20 second highest run-scorer Rizwan Hussain this year who are the players to watch out for in PSL 4.
“These young players are the future of Pakistan. The franchisees give them a chance, of course, the franchisees want to win but they also groom these players and after that the PCB comes and groom them.”
Waqar stressed Pakistan needs to put more focus on first-class cricket.
“What looks good, feels good, sells good,” said Waqar of the PSL success.
“Our focus is more on PSL and we need to have the same focus on our first-class cricket. I keep hearing that changes are coming, sponsors are merging with the regions so, may be, after a few years we will see changes and we will start producing the kind of players for Tests as well what we have seen in the PSL.”
Waqar, who has coached in India, Bangladesh and Canada leagues – believes PSL will become one of the top leagues once it is staged fully in Pakistan.
“Currently it’s in the top-three,” said Waqar of the PSL. “Of course, IPL is at the top, there is no doubt. PSL is getting bigger and better. The need is that one day it should fully be staged in Pakistan.
“Once it is fully staged in Pakistan, it will probably become one of the biggest leagues. This time we have eight matches in Pakistan, next year, may be, we have more than half matches in Pakistan.
“The things are rolling and in the next three years we will have the full league in Pakistan,” he said.