Waqar Younis is a former right arm fast bowler in cricket and widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. As of 2012, he holds the record for the youngest Pakistani Test captain and the third youngest Test captain in history (22 years 15 days). He played 87 Tests and 262 One Day International (ODI) matches for Pakistan during his international cricket career from 1989 to 2003.
Younis' trademark was his ability to reverse swing a cricket ball at high speed. He took 373 Test wickets and 416 One Day International wickets during his career. Together with bowling partner Wasim Akram, he formed one of the world's most feared bowling attacks. Younis has the best strike rate for any bowler with over 350 Test wickets. He worked as a bowling coach with the national side from 2006 to 2007. Waqar was appointed as the coach of the Pakistan cricket team on 3 March 2010. He resigned as Pakistan's Cricket Coach on 19 August 2011 citing personal reasons.
Younis was born in Vehari and was educated in Sadiq Public School in Bahawalpur, Pakistan Islamia Higher Secondary School in Sharjah and the Government College in Vehari. He was raised in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, where his father was a contract worker. He returned to Pakistan during his adolescent years and there, he started playing cricket.
He is married to Dr. Faryal Waqar Younis, a Pakistani Australian. They have a son Azaan Waqar and a daughter Maira Waqar and now lives in Castle Hill in Australia. Younis has also worked as a television sports commentator for the Nine Network in Australia and for Ten Sports in the United Arab Emirates.
Waqar began his cricket career in 1987/88, playing for several First-class cricket clubs. However he suffered an injury when he had cut and removed his little finger on his left hand, after he had jumped into a canal. He recovered from this accident and went on to continue his sporting career. He was eventually discovered by former Pakistan captain, Imran Khan and was selected to be part of the national side. He had played only six first class games when he got picked for the Pakistan camp out of the blue. Waqar says "I remember Imran was not feeling well at the time, and was not present at the camp. Luckily the Super Wills Cup was going on, and there was a match between United Bank and Delhi XI. Saleem Jaffar got injured, and I got the opportunity to play that game. Imran watched me on TV, and actually came to the ground to watch the end of the game. The very next day, he met me and told me that I will be going to Sharjah next month. Just meeting Imran at the time was enough of an experience for me, but for him to notify me of my selection was just out of this world."
English audiences became aware of Waqar's talent during the early 1990s, when he played for Surrey. By taking 113 wickets in 582 overs for Surrey in 1991, at a mere 14.65 apiece, and by carrying on his shoulders an otherwise moderate county attack, he announced himself as one of the finest contemporary bowlers. There he displayed excellent cricketing performances and attracted attention from the sporting public. He went on to win the English County Championship with Glamorgan in 1997. He took 7 wickets for 25 against Lancashire at Liverpool on 21 June 1997, which included a hat-trick achieved after narrowly missing a hat-trick earlier in the innings.
Waqar made his International cricket debut for Pakistan against India on 15 November 1989, in the same match that Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar also made his debut. Waqar took 4 wickets in the drawn match including the wickets of Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. He made an immediate impression with his speed and became known in the cricket media as "Wiki" or the "Burewala Express". Waqar along with Wasim Akram opened the bowling attack regularly for Pakistan, becoming a feared and potent attack. At his peak, he developed into a very quick fast bowler and also became famous for achieving a hat-trick in a One Day International match against New Zealand in 1994. During the early periods of 2000, he stayed out of the Pakistan team for a brief period allegedly due to suspension and conflicts with bowling partner and captain Akram. His return to cricket came with him being appointed the captain of Pakistan.
In March 2006, he was appointed as the bowling coach for Pakistan. He resigned from this position on 6 January 2007 in protest against the Pakistan Cricket Board decision to retain him only for the Test series against South Africa and not for the subsequent series of five One Day International matches. He was re-appointed as Pakistan's bowling and fielding coach for their tour of Australia in December 2009. In February 2010, Younis was appointed the head coach of Pakistan.
Waqar's first job as coach was to lead an inexperienced Pakistan side missing Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik to the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 as a consolation though Waqar had two top-notch bowlers in Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif at his disposal. He guided the defending champions to the semi-final of the tournament before they were knocked out by Australia courtesy of a superb 60* by Mike Hussey who whacked three sixes in the final over to seal the victory.
The World Twenty20 was followed with the 2010 Asia Cup in which Pakistan lost to Sri Lanka by a narrow-margin as Pakistan's top order collapsed and it was Shahid Afridi who scored 109 to nearly guide Pakistan to victory. In the following match Pakistan lost narrowly against India courtesy of a six by Harbhajan Singh from the third ball of the final over. The following match was a dead rubber between Pakistan and Bangladesh and another Afridi century meant Pakistan scored 385 runs and they comfortably won the match by 139 runs.
After this a tour of England followed with two Twenty20's against Australia and two Test matches. Pakistan won both Twenty20's comfortably and the first test saw Pakistan defeated by 154 runs. Pakistan rallied in the second test and for the first time in 15 years Pakistan defeated Australia in a Test match. Ironically the previous victory in 1995 was also courtesy of a superb bowling spell by Waqar Younis.
Waqar is one of several Pakistani fast bowlers, beginning with Sarfraz Nawaz, who have been successful at bowling reverse swing. In partnership with Akram, Younis opened the Pakistan bowling attack in the 1990s. Cricket critics and scholars attribute Younis and Akram to be one of the most effective fast bowling partnerships in cricket, due to their ability to swing the ball at high speed. The ability to reverse swing and his speed led to him becoming one of the most talented bowlers in modern cricket.
Waqar explained his ability to reverse swing by the manipulation of an old ball; with one side shiny, one side rough, the ball would move in the opposite direction to conventional swing. This led to Waqar having the ability to bowl inswingers and outswingers in the cricket pitch and in effect both Waqar and Akram became successful in taking wickets by this variation of swing bowling. His fastest delivery in cricket was 153 km/h or 95.1 mph, a delivery he bowled against South Africa in 1993. He was also effective in the use of bouncers or short pitch deliveries; Waqar's bowling against South Africa in Sheikhupura in Pakistan, is remembered for his effective use of the short pitched delivery.
Following Pakistan's victory during the Test match series versus England in 1992, the English media were suspicious of the reverse swing delivery. It was relatively unknown to the cricketing world during that period and this led to accusations of foul play by critics, however cricket officials found no evidence of foul play and the skill of the reverse swing delivery has been accepted in cricket.
Sri Lanka fast bowler, Lasith Malinga, who became the first bowler in World Cup history to take two hat-tricks, has said that he learnt to bowl his deadly yorkers by watching Pakistan's legendary pair of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. No doubt over the years several bowlers have learned and mastered the skill of reverse swing but there are still some techniques which haven't have been explored, e.g. banana swing. The title of Banana Swing Bowler was given to Waqar Younis because of his unique technique of swinging the ball in the air at very high speed before hitting the ground. In most of his hat tricks he has delivered banana swing balls which were unplayable.
Considered as one of the finest bowlers in cricket, Waqar Younis has been a legend to many, both nationally and internationally, throughout his cricket career. The world's fastest sprinter and runner Usain Bolt, who is from Jamaica (in the West Indies), once famously replied while being asked about who were his heroes when he was a child: "When I was really small I loved the Pakistan cricket team. Waqar Younis was one of the greatest bowlers ever, and I was a bowler so I really enjoyed watching him. I was a big Pakistan fan until I got older, when I noticed that I should actually support my home team." When asked what if there was a match between Pakistan and Windies, Bolt remarked "I would still have supported Pakistan, that’s what I’m saying – when I was little, it was all about Pakistan."
Waqar was named among the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1992 for his sporting achievements. He is also the only bowler to have taken 5 wickets in an innings in 3 consecutive One Day International matches. In terms of deliveries bowled, he has taken the fastest 50, 300, 350 and 400 wickets in One Day International matches and the fastest 150, 200, 250, 300 and 350 wickets in Test matches.
Although primarily a fast bowler, Waqar scored 1010 Test match runs during his career. As of September 2005, he was the only non-batsman to achieve a thousand runs without scoring a fifty. Waqar holds the record for the best strike rate for any bowler with over 350 Test wickets.
Waqar Younis has taken five or more wickets in an innings on 22 occasions in Test cricket. In One Day International matches, he has taken the most number of five-wicket hauls on 13 occasions.