Aaqib Javed has re-emerged as one of the frontrunners for the vacant position of Pakistan coach, just over a week after he had ruled himself out of the running.
Regardless of whether he becomes Pakistan’s next head coach, however, the news for the UAE cricket team is bad: Aaqib is almost certain to leave his post as UAE coach and move back to Pakistan, to possibly explore an opportunity with the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Aaqib was favourite to take over once Waqar Younis resigned after a poor World Twenty20. He said at the time that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had called him and asked whether he would accept the position and he had said yes.
But he withdrew his interest, in some frustration, once the board officially advertised the position. He was further unhappy as he felt that Ramiz Raja and Wasim Akram, two advisors appointed by the PCB to help them in their search, had publicly expressed a preference for a foreign coach.
Now, however, it has emerged that the PCB maintained contact with Aaqib and has convinced him to at least stay in the race as a contender; it is not clear yet whether he will formally apply through the coach selection committee or whether the PCB deals with him directly.
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Even if he does not get it, however, it is very unlikely he will stay on in the UAE, where he has been coach since April 2012. It is understood that he is keen to move back to take up a senior position at a PSL franchise.
If he does go, it will be as the most successful coach in UAE history, having taken the national side to two World Cups, as well as achieving ODI status.
The PCB have been keen on Aaqib from the beginning. He is, as coach, a local product who has worked extensively and successfully in various set-ups within Pakistan cricket: he was head coach of the National Cricket Academy, has been an U-19 World Cup winning coach and has also worked with the national side as an assistant coach.
Despite the interest, it is not a done deal. The vacancy has invited interest from a number of prominent coaching names. Though Aaqib has only one serious local contender in Mohammad Akram, from around the globe the competition is stiffer.
Those thought to be interested or who have already applied for the role, or whom the PCB is especially keen on, include the Australian Stuart Law, the former England coach Peter Moores, as well as the former South Africa and Australia coach Mickey Arthur; the last two, given their international experience will inevitably be strong contenders.
Dean Jones, the former Australian batsman-turned-commentator, who was coach of the Islamabad United side that won the inaugural PSL, is also in the running.
The PCB were keen on reaching out to Paddy Upton, who is involved with three Twenty20 franchises including the PSL’s Lahore Qalanders, but it is believed he is not keen on a full-time appointment with an international side. He could, however, be open to considering a part-time/consulting role.
The board has asked candidates to submit a vision document of sorts, for where they see the team, as well as its coaching and support structures in the short, medium and long-term, as part of their application.
The board’s deadline for the submission of these applications is April 25th, after which, according to the chairman Shaharyar Khan, they hope to finalise and appoint a coach by the first week of May.
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