Pak cricket team arrives home from scandal-hit England tour

Waqar and some fellow players arrived at the Allama Iqbal airport here amid tight security late last night and were given a frosty welcome by the people present inside and outside the airport terminal with no adverse or any jubilant reaction coming from the crowd.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed, who is expected to step down from his post, did not arrive with the team as he is undergoing medical treatment for a knee problem in Dubai. "Such a long tour is always a demanding one for the players but the scandals and controversies both on and off the field added to the pressure on us. It was not an easy tour at all in cricketing terms and also because of all the controversies surrounding it. But we have learnt a lot from it," Waqar said.

Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 matches and were defeated 3-1 in Tests and 3-2 in one-day matches by England. Pakistan had arrived in England in late June to play a neutral venue series against Australia. They won both Twenty20 matches against Australia and squared the two-Test series 1-1.

The Pakistan team was hit by a series of controversies during the English tour. Three players -- Test captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir -- were alleged spot-fixing during the Lord's Test last month. The three players were also questioned by the Scotland Yard.

The matter didn't end there as fresh spot-fixing allegations hit the team during the ODI series also. The ICC launched an investigation into their third ODI against England after being tipped off about suspicious scoring patterns by a British tabloid.

In the fifth and final ODI of the series, Akhtar was caught on camera tampering with the ball, apparently running his left thumb along the ball's seam before dropping the ball on the ground and standing on it with his spiked right boot. Pakistan lost the match by a massive 121 runs.

"We had tasted success against Australia but because of the controversies in England, it was tough for us to gear up when you see a report in the newspaper every other day," Waqar said. Waqar also dismissed reports that there were differences between the coaching staff and captain Shahid Afridi over the selection of senior players for the one-day series.

"I don't know why these things happened on a long tour. There were always some differences between players but there was no major dispute in the team at all," the coach said.

Waqar pointed out that despite the pressure of the tour, the players had done well to win matches and fightback in the one-day series. But he admitted that there was a need for the board, selectors and coaches to sit down and reassess the entire team performance and discuss future planning.

"Personally I would like to see more young blood in the team for the future," Waqar said adding he would be meeting the Chairman of the board Ijaz Butt soon to chalk out the future strategy for the team. Pakistan plays a full Test series against South Africa in the UAE in Oct-Nov.

Waqar said he was hoping that by the time the next series came up, the situation would be much clear in Pakistan cricket about the future of the three suspended players.
"By that time we should know the exact position and we will be in a better position to take decisions," he stated.

He also stressed on the need for the cricket board to educate players on how to conduct themselves as national team members on the international tour and on how to avoid getting into unwanted situations and controversies. "There is definitely a need for our board to educate our players and this education needs to start from grass root level from boys in the age groups of 17 and 19," Waqar said.

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