Pakistan Test skipper Azhar Ali and white-ball captain Babar Azam on Thursday expressed their happiness over the appointments of Mushtaq Ahmed and Younis Khan in the backroom staff for the upcoming tour of England in which are scheduled to play three Tests and as many T20Is in August-September.
The presence of Mushtaq and Younis – the spin bowling and batting coaches for the tour – further strengthens the support staff, which also includes head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and fast bowling Waqar Younis, as the squad is likely to include up to 25 players for both the formats.
“I have been fortunate to play a number of Tests with Younis. In my books, he is one of the best non-England batsmen to perform consistently and score heavily in English conditions in the past two decades,” Azhar was quoted as saying in a PCB statement.
“With a great technique, mental strength and match assessment, he not only dominated the opposition on the field but off the field as well. I think this offers an excellent opportunity for the emerging and younger batsmen to learn from Younis during a pressure series than they will ever learn during a training camp or an off-season.
“On a personal note, it gives me great confidence that in Misbah-ul-Haq, Mushtaq, Waqar Younis and Younis, there will be a collective experience of 332 Tests sitting in the backroom on which I can fall for guidance and support. I don’t recall we have ever gone into a series as well equipped as this one, which will surely brighten up our chances.”
Pakistan’s last two Test series in England – in 2016 and 2018 – had ended in draws. For this much-anticipated series, which has crucial World Test Championship points attached to it, the Pakistan players are eager to make the most of the star-studded backroom staff.
“Younis Khan is a living legend and I admire him for the way he used to plan and construct his innings. I look up to his resilience, grit and determination. He has done wonders for Pakistan and we are privileged that he will be part of our dressing room again,” Babar said.
“As part of a young and learning group of batsmen, there can’t be a better feeling to have the geniuses of Misbah and Younis on my side upon which I can strengthen and define my future career.”
Opener Shan Masood, who struck his first Test century during a match-winning partnership with Younis in Pallekele in 2015 (Pakistan’s record chase), said: “I am very excited at the news of Younis being appointed as our batting coach and it is a great step to reap the services of one of Pakistan’s best.
“Personally, I have always had a student-mentor relationship with him, having played with him in domestic teams and, more importantly, in the Pakistan team. The fact that we will all be sharing a dressing room with him excites me, as there is so much experience to draw from.
“While as a player, Younis always loved helping his peers. Often, he spent more time on other players than he did on himself and seeing him in this role means we will have access to the knowledge of someone who has been so successful at the highest level.”
Wrist spinner Yasir Shah, fastest bowler to take 200 Test wickets in terms of innings, said: “Mushtaq has been one of my mentors. During his career as a spin bowling coach, he has helped a number of slow bowlers to become more effective.
“I feel my recent Test performances have not been up to my expectations but, if selected and with Mushtaq on my side, I hope to play a big part in the team’s overall objective of winning the first Test series in England since 1996.”