Former Test batsman Ijaz Ahmed has been appointed the head coach of the Pakistan U19 cricket team on a three-year contract, the Pakistan Cricket Board announced on Monday. His first assignment is most likely to be with the ‘A’ team for the tour of Kenya for an 8-nation tournament in September.
He will also work very closely with the Pakistan U16 and Pakistan “A” sides and will assume charge following the ACC U19 Asia Cup 2019, to be played in Colombo from 5th to 14th September.
Ijaz Ahmed has been in the coaching setup since 2009, serving as the head coach for Pakistan “A” and U19 sides. An outstanding fielder in his prime, he has also worked as the fielding coach at the National Cricket Academy. Moreover, Lahore Qalandars also hired him in the first edition of the Pakistan Super League.
Newly appointed U19 head coach said, “I am thankful to the PCB for trusting me with the important responsibility of grooming and nurturing the future stars of Pakistan cricket”.
“Junior cricket is a lifeline for any cricketing nation; as it sees talented youngsters graduate to senior cricket and carry forward the legacy of some of the greatest cricketers this proud nation has produced. I am excited with this opportunity and look forward to playing my part in what are exciting times for Pakistan cricket”, he further added.
In a press release, PCB’s said that they have hired an experienced and talented coach.
“Ijaz was chosen for the assignment following a robust recruitment process in which a number of high-profile and quality former international cricketers were interviewed by Wasim Khan [PCB managing director] and Mudassar Nazar [PCB director – academies], the press release stated.
Mudassar said, “I have seen Ijaz Ahmed develop as one of the most talented coaches. He has a vision and a strategy. He is hardworking and has a reputation of being a good student of cricket who can analyze the game and spot talent. I have no doubts Ijaz will be making a significant contribution as a Pakistan U19 coach as the PCB has stepped up its endeavours to not only narrow the gap with international cricket but provide equal and fair opportunities to all the budding youngsters in the country.”
Interestingly, Ijaz was picked over 5 other candidates including Quetta Gladiators manager Azam Khan, former test cricketer and experienced coach Saqlain Mushtaq, former Pakistan fast bowler Kabir Khan, star all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and wicket-keeper Atiq-uz-Zaman. Saqlain Mushtaq as an international coach would have been a really appealing option for the PCB. Similarly, Azam Khan is famed for his nurturing of talent in Karachi.
However, in Ijaz Ahmed PCB have decided to go with someone who has experience working at the level before.