Wednesday April 17, 2024

Babar Azam poised to return as Pakistan captain

PCB also decides to appoint separate coaches for white-ball and red-ball cricket

By Sohail Imran & Syed Yahya Hussaini
March 29, 2024

LAHORE: Pakistan cricketer Babar Azam is expected to make a comeback as the national side's T20 captain after the newly-formed selection committee recommended changing the team's skipper, sources told Geo News on Friday. 

Babar, who stepped down from Pakistan's captaincy last year, would assume the charge during the upcoming five-match T20I series against New Zealand, said the sources. 

The cricket body, under Zaka Ashraf's chairmanship, appointed Shaheen Shah Afridi as white-ball captain following the team’s drubbing in the ICC World Cup 2023. Whereas, Shan Masood was given the red-ball captaincy. 

The selection committee unanimously informed PCB Chairman Mohsin Naqvi that Babar Azam should be given captaincy of the T20 cricket, said the sources, adding that the 29-year-old will participate in the Kakul training camp as the captain. 

Meanwhile, Shaheen was thinking about stepping down as T20I captain after the development. However, sources close to the pacer have advised him against it since appointing captain is the prerogative of the cricket board and whatever the PCB decides he should accept it. 

Babar stepped down as the skipper of the national side from all formats, ending his years-long stint in the leading position, in November last year, following a humiliating World Cup campaign.

The former skipper was under fire for several months after Pakistan failed to perform in the Asia Cup and continued the same momentum into the World Cup — where they crashed out before reaching the semis.

Babar was previously appointed white-ball captain in 2019 and as Test skipper in 2020, but the Green Shirts have not won any ICC or Asia Cup titles under his leadership.

Gary Kirsten, Jason Gillespie likely to take role as coaches

Meanwhile, the cricket body has decided to appoint separate coaches for white-ball and red-ball cricket, said the sources, adding that the matter regarding their appointment has entered final stages.

Sources said that South African coach Gary Kirsten is expected to be appointed for white-ball cricket and Australian coach Jason Gillespie for red-ball.

Talks with both coaches on various issues including sports staff and domestic coaches are ongoing, said the sources. They added that Gillespie may take over the responsibilities during Kirsten's other commitments.