Waqar Younis

Waqar Younis

Player Bio

Waqar Younis, a name that resonates with cricket enthusiasts worldwide, is a cricketing legend who hails from Pakistan. Born as Waqar Younis Maitla on November 16, 1971, in Vehari, Punjab, he is renowned for his exceptional bowling skills, particularly his ability to reverse swing the ball at high speeds. Waqar's cricketing journey is a testament to his sheer talent, determination, and passion for the game. His unique bowling style, where he aimed for the stumps rather than the batsman, coupled with his prodigious late inswing, made him one of the most feared bowlers of his time. Waqar's approach to bowling was not just about speed; it was about precision, strategy, and an innate ability to read the game.

Early Life and Entry into International Cricket

From the bustling streets of Vehari in Punjab, Waqar's journey to the international cricket arena is nothing short of inspirational. As a young boy, he showcased an evident talent for fast bowling. His ability to bowl at high speeds with accuracy caught the attention of cricket scouts and pundits.

Waqar made his debut for Pakistan against India in a Test match at Karachi on November 15, 1989. This was just the beginning of what would become an illustrious career. His entry into the international scene was marked by his distinctive bowling style. Unlike many bowlers of the 1980s who preferred to pitch fast and short, Waqar's strategy was to pitch fast and full. This approach, combined with his ability to produce late inswing, was designed to target the base of the leg stump or the batsman's toes. Such a technique was not common during his time, making him a standout performer.

In his prime, Waqar was one of the fastest bowlers in the world. His surging run-up to the crease was not just a sight to behold but also symbolised his dedication and hard work. However, this intense approach took a toll on his body, leading to back injuries that affected his career. Despite these setbacks, Waqar's determination always brought him back to the game, showcasing his resilience and passion.

His method of aiming for the stumps earned him an impressive strike rate, making him one of the most effective bowlers with over 200 Test wickets until the emergence of bowlers like Dale Steyn. Waqar's aggressive approach on the field sometimes bordered on intimidation, but it was this very aggression that made him a force to be reckoned with.

Pinnacle of His Career: Achievements and Records

Waqar Younis, often referred to as the "Toe Crusher" for his lethal yorkers, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic figures in the cricketing world. His achievements and records speak volumes about his prowess on the field. Waqar's international cricket career spanned from 1989 to 2003, during which he played 87 Tests and 262 One Day Internationals (ODIs) for Pakistan. His trademark was his unparalleled ability to reverse swing a cricket ball at high speeds.

Throughout his career, Waqar took an impressive 373 wickets in Test matches and 416 wickets in ODIs. These figures not only highlight his consistency but also his ability to deliver under pressure. Among his notable records, Waqar holds the distinction of being the youngest bowler to take 400 wickets in ODI cricket. Furthermore, he boasts the best strike rate, second only to Dale Steyn, for any bowler with over 350 Test wickets. His name also features in the top ten of all time based on ICC rankings.

Partnership with Wasim Akram: The Two Ws

The cricketing world has seen many great partnerships, but few can rival the deadly combination of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, fondly referred to as the "Two Ws". Together, they formed one of the world's most feared bowling attacks. Their ability to swing the ball, both conventionally and in reverse, often left batsmen clueless. The duo's complementary styles – Waqar's toe-crushing yorkers and Wasim's deceptive deliveries – made them a nightmare for any batting line-up.

Their partnership was not just about individual brilliance; it was about understanding each other's strengths and working in tandem to dismantle the opposition. The synergy between the two was evident every time they stepped onto the field. Their combined efforts have led Pakistan to numerous victories, and their legacy as one of the most potent bowling duos remains unmatched.

Captaincy and Leadership

Waqar's leadership qualities were evident early on, and it was no surprise when he was handed the captaincy of the Pakistan national cricket team. As of 2021, he held the record for being the youngest Pakistani Test captain and the fourth youngest Test captain in history, taking on the role at just 22 years and 15 days.

His tenure as captain was marked by both highs and lows. While he showcased strategic acumen and led from the front with his performances, Waqar also had to navigate through controversies. He faced allegations of ball-tampering and had to deal with internal team dynamics. In July 2000, he became the first cricketer to be banned from playing in a match due to ball tampering, a decision that stirred significant debate in the cricketing community.

Despite the challenges, Waqar's leadership was instrumental in shaping the young talents in the team. His guidance and mentorship played a pivotal role in the development of several players who went on to become stalwarts for Pakistan.

Waqar Younis's journey from a young bowler to one of the game's greatest, his iconic partnership with Wasim Akram, and his leadership tenure as captain are testament to his dedication, skill, and passion for cricket. His legacy continues to inspire budding cricketers and fans alike.

Coaching and Post-Cricket Career

After hanging up his boots as a player, Waqar Younis transitioned seamlessly into the world of coaching, bringing with him the same passion and dedication that had defined his playing career. He took on the role of the head coach for the Pakistan national cricket team on multiple occasions. His first stint began in 2010, and he served until 2011. Later, he resumed the role in 2014 and continued until 2016. During his tenure, Waqar faced various challenges, including team performance issues and internal dynamics. One notable incident was the leak of a confidential report after the World T20, which led to his resignation in April 2016.

Waqar's coaching journey also saw him associating with various T20 leagues around the world. He served as the head coach for the Multan Sultans during the third season of the Pakistan Super League. Later, in 2017, he was appointed as a mentor for the Sylhet Sixers in the Bangladesh Premier League. His expertise was once again sought by the Pakistan Cricket Board when he was reappointed as the bowling coach of the national team after the Cricket World Cup 2019.

Waqar Younis's legacy in the world of cricket is monumental. Alongside Wasim Akram, he formed one of the most lethal fast-bowling duos in cricket history. Their ability to reverse swing the ball at high speeds revolutionised the art of fast bowling. Waqar's unique technique, often referred to as the 'banana swing', made him stand out. His deliveries, which swung in the air at high speeds before hitting the ground, were often deemed unplayable by batsmen.

XMany bowlers over the years have tried to emulate the art of reverse swing, but Waqar's techniques remain unparalleled. His influence on the game can be seen in the way modern fast bowlers approach their craft. Sri Lankan fast bowler, Lasith Malinga, credited his deadly yorkers to the teachings of Waqar and Wasim Akram.

Beyond his on-field achievements, Waqar's impact is also evident in the respect and admiration he commands from fans and peers alike. The world's fastest sprinter, Usain Bolt, once mentioned that as a child, he was a massive fan of the Pakistan cricket team, especially Waqar Younis.

From the streets of Vehari to the grand stadiums of international cricket, Waqar Younis's journey is a testament to talent, hard work, and relentless passion. His contributions as a player, captain, and coach have left an indelible mark on the game. His legacy, both as a fearsome fast bowler and a mentor, continues to inspire generations of cricketers and fans around the world.

Who is Waqar Younis?
Waqar Younis is a former Pakistani cricketer, renowned for his fast bowling and ability to reverse swing the ball.
When did Waqar Younis retire from international cricket?
Waqar Younis retired from international cricket in 2003.
How many wickets did Waqar Younis take in his career?
Waqar took 373 wickets in Test matches and 416 wickets in ODIs.
Has Waqar Younis coached the Pakistan national team?
Yes, Waqar Younis has served as the head coach of the Pakistan national cricket team on multiple occasions.
What is Waqar Younis's contribution to reverse swing bowling?
Waqar Younis, along with Wasim Akram, is credited for revolutionising the art of reverse swing bowling in cricket.