A controversy over the remarks made by Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan spinner and one of the team’s senior players, about the national coach Dav Whatmore seems to have blown over after Ajmal apologised.
Whatmore had tweeted his displeasure over Ajmal’s comments, after which the PCB had advised Ajmal to meet the coach to clear the air. “I immediately went up to Dav and apologised and explained the context and circumstances in which I made certain remarks,” Ajmal said in a PCB media release.
“Dav has worked tirelessly with the Pakistan team and it would be extremely unfair not to recognise his services. I enjoy very good relations with Dav and am hopeful of continuing this in the coming series.”
Pakistan have not won a Test series since Whatmore, a former Australia international and World Cup-winning coach with Sri Lanka, took charge in 2012. That was on the back of Pakistan whitewashing England in the UAE under Mohsin Khan but, ahead of their return to the region to host South Africa, their most recent result was a 1-1 draw with Zimbabwe.
Whatmore last week described the defeat to Zimbabwe in the second Test as “embarrassing, upsetting and disappointing” but expressed confidence in the team. However, Ajmal appeared to praise Whatmore’s predecessors, Mohsin and Waqar Younis, during a lengthy interview with Geo TV.
Asked about having a foreign coach – Whatmore was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Australia – Ajmal said: “There is no difference, just that we are paying more to him, otherwise there is no difference. Waqar handled us better. He used to stress on fitness and he used to say that if your fitness is good then you are 80% okay on the ground, but if it’s only 20% then you cannot do anything on the ground.
“Mohsin did well. He would scold in front [of the team] if anyone is not taking wickets or a batsman is not scoring, irrespective of if he is senior or junior. If a junior was not performing then he would say that if you don’t, then you will not be able to keep your place.
“Dav is a foreign coach, he doesn’t know our language much, but he is a coach and has done coaching for various countries and has helped other teams win, he is not that bad. We had our coaches, we have our language.”
Ajmal, who is ranked the fourth-best bowler in Test cricket, was inspirational when Pakistan beat England in the UAE last year and he claimed 11 wickets in Harare last month to give Whatmore his maiden Test-match win as coach. His form will be crucial against South Africa, who beat Pakistan 3-0 at the start of 2013, and he stressed that it was the players on the pitch, rather than Whatmore, who had to fix Pakistan’s poor recent record.
“I am not saying that I am not satisfied, he is a good coach and helped Sri Lanka lift the World Cup,” Ajmal said.
“I am happy in every situation, if there is trouble then it’s okay, I laugh and smile and even if there are hard times then it is inevitable, this is my lifestyle … I don’t have any problems [with] who is coming in as coach and, for me, more important is what reaction he has on my performance. He helps us get everything on what the batsmen are doing wrong. He tells us instantly what we have to do. He can’t go [on to] the field. His job is to tell us what to do.”