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Wasim fears for future of Pakistan cricket

31 March 2016

Afridi and Wasim in conversation after Pakistan's World T20 exit // Getty

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Fast-bowling great says Pakistan system is 'down the drain' and run by 'certain people I don't think want Pakistan cricket to do well'

About the Writer:
 @samuelfez

Sam Ferris is a Sydney-based journalist for cricket.com.au. He started in 2011 as a Big Bash League correspondent and continues to monitor the domestic scene and national sides closely.

Legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram believes Pakistan's Super 10s exit from the ICC World T20 is a reflection of an outdated first-class system and a board that isn't fully committed to seeing Pakistan cricket prosper. 

Pakistan won only one of their four matches – a 55-run win against Bangladesh in Kolkata – and crashed out after three heavy defeats to miss the semi-final stage for the second-straight tournament.

WATCH: Afridi stars in Bangladesh rout

Wasim, who is in India commentating with Star Sports, said he was not surprised by Pakistan's poor performance which he believed had been on the radar for a number of years. 

"Whatever happened in this T20 World Cup for Pakistan it was writing on the wall," Akram told cricket.com.au in Mumbai.

"They didn't see it four years ago (when Pakistan made the semi-finals in Sri Lanka) but it was meant to happen.

"Our first-class structure is down the drain, nobody puts money in there, nobody's bothering.

"And they want to win World Cups – you can't win World Cups like this, I'm sorry.

WATCH: India spinners tie down Pakistan

"It's a tournament. A team prepares itself for three to four years; they plan, they prepare, they pick the right combination.

"But we just go by our instinct and go 'OK, there's a World Cup next month, hopefully we'll win'. That's what we do in Pakistan."

Quick Single: History repeats for Pakistan

Wasim, a proud and passionate Pakistani who played 104 Tests and captained his country 134 times in five-day and 50-over cricket, said it "hurts" watching his side fail on the global stage.

"You go to a World Cup and I'm a commentator and I'm a Pakistani and want Pakistan team to do well," he said.

WATCH: Australians end Pakistan's World T20

"Winning (the World T20) would be the icing on the cake, but at least qualify for the semis. Of course it hurts. Big time.

"Not just to me but every Pakistani. It doesn't matter if you're living in Pakistan or living abroad, it hurts."

Quick Single: Pakistan's pain at self-inflicted wounds

The issues facing Pakistan cricket start at the top, according to Wasim.

Following the early exit from the World T20, Pakistan coach and Wasim's former new-ball partner, Waqar Younis, submitted a six-page report to the Pakistan Cricket Board on his two years as coach and made a series of recommendations to move forward.

Within 24 hours the report, which criticised the attitude of captain Shahid Afridi, the fitness of the squad and suggested players be educated in the importance of maintaining dressing-room confidentiality, was out in the open.

WATCH: Was this Afridi's swansong?

When asked what he would do if he could implement change to Pakistan cricket, the Wasim said: "First of all I would put people who have passion, who want to do well for the country and who can keep a secret a secret.

"That's the start," the 49-year-old continued. "The Pakistan coach … supposedly has given a confidential report (to the PCB) on the state of Pakistan, on the state of affairs and cricketers … (but) it was out (in the public) the next day.

"If the top level have a mentality like this, leaking news like this, imagine what the players go through.

"You can't have people in cricket boards who will leak confidential reports in the matter of a day, maybe three hours.

"That shows the trust nobody has. Not everyone on the (PCB) but certain people I don't think want Pakistan cricket to do well."

WATCH: Waqar calls for changes

But Wasim stopped short of wanting to join the PCB in any official role.

"I'm fine where I am in life," he said. "Unless the mindset of the cricket board changes, one person – chairman or coach or captain – you can change them, fine, but they're not going to make a difference.

"Our mindset and cricket is 10 years behind world cricket. That's what it is."

Quick Single: Wasim shot at in Karachi

While the introduction of the Pakistan Super League was met with an incredible television audience and was considered a success by the PCB chairman Najam Sethi, Wasim said the triumph would not translate into performances on the field in the short term.

"The PSL will give you players after three, four years," he said. "People were expecting that after PSL shake-up everybody will be fine. No it won't.

WATCH: Akram turns Nostradamus on commentary

"Our coaching is also 10 years behind. Our fielding levels are 10 years behind world cricket. That is why we are where we are."

Sethi hopes to host the opening and closing matches of the PSL hosted in Pakistan next season.

Pakistan hosted Zimbabwe for a limited-overs series last May, the first international cricket played on home soil since the 2009 militant attacks on the touring Sri Lanka team in Lahore. That series aside, all 'home' matches have played on neutral turf, in the United Arab Emirates.

WATCH: Wasim Akram Mix Tape

It's with a heavy heart Wasim talks about the loss of international cricket in his home country.

"When I played, I could see my heroes playing in front of me. Now these boys, youngsters, can only see them on television," he said.

"That's a big, big tragedy for Pakistan cricket and to Pakistan. My hope is it comes to Pakistan at some stage, but let's see."

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