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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Shan, Shaheen named new captains as embattled Babar resigns

PCB says they had sacked Babar Azam as limited-overs skipper but still wanted him to remain in charge of Test team

By Ag Afp & Asher Butt
November 16, 2023
Shaheen Shah Afridi (L), Babar Azam (c) and Muhammad Rizwan can be seen each other in this image. — AFP/File
Shaheen Shah Afridi (L), Babar Azam (c) and Muhammad Rizwan can be seen each other in this image. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket underwent a major shake-up on Wednesday in the aftermath of the team’s World Cup fiasco as Babar Azam quit as skipper with Shan Masood becoming the Test captain, Shaheen Shah Afridi taking the reins of the T20 side while coaches were downgraded.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials said they had sacked Babar Azam as limited-overs skipper but still wanted him to remain in charge of the Test team. “Today, I am stepping down as the captain of Pakistan in all formats,” Babar announced on X, formerly Twitter, after meeting PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf in Lahore.

“It’s a difficult decision but I feel it is the right time for this call. I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats.” Babar, 29, had been leading the side since November 2019 but after the failure to reach the World Cup semi-finals in India, his position was immediately under threat.

“I am here to support the new captain and the team with my experience and dedication,” added Babar. “I want to express my sincere thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board for entrusting me with this significant responsibility.”

Babar said his journey had been a rollercoaster ride, which culminated in a record of four wins and five losses at the 2023 World Cup. As well as suffering an eighth defeat in eight meetings at World Cups against arch-rivals India, he also oversaw a first loss to neighbours Afghanistan. “I vividly remember the moment when I received the call from the PCB to lead Pakistan in 2019. Over the past four years, I’ve experienced many highs and lows, on and off the field,” said Babar.

“But I wholeheartedly and passionately aimed to maintain Pakistan’s pride and respect in the cricket world.”

Ranked as the No 1 batsman before the World Cup, Babar failed to score big runs in India, finishing with 320 without a century in nine games. He led Pakistan in 20 Tests, winning 10, losing six and drawing the other four. In 43 ODIs, Pakistan won 26, losing 16 with one no result.

In the shortest format, Babar led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup in 2021 and runners-up finish a year later. In 71 T20Is, he enjoyed 41 wins, 23 losses with seven no results.

Later in the day, the Pakistan Cricket Board appointed Shan Masood as the Test skipper and handed the T20 International captaincy to Shaheen Shah Afridi.

The PCB also appointed former Test cricketer Mohammad Hafeez as director cricket, replacing Mickey Arthur, while former pace bowler Wahab Riaz will be the new chief selector. Wahab was appointed to the post that fell vacant after Inzamamul Haq resigned as the chief selector over allegations of conflict of interest.

The PCB also appointed former left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir as the head of the junior selection team.

The 34-year-old Shan has featured in 30 Tests, scoring 1,597 runs, including four centuries and seven half-centuries.

The left-handed top order batsman has been appointed captain till the end of the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25.

Shan’s first assignment as captain will be a three-match Test series against Australia in Australia starting December 14.

Meanwhile, left-arm pacer Shaheen’s first assignment as the T20 captain will be the five-match series in New Zealand from January 12 to 21.

The 23-year-old Shaheen has bagged 64 wickets in 52 T20Is. He has also captained Lahore Qalandars in HBL Pakistan Super League and has helped the side win the tournament twice -- in 2022 and 2023.

The board said in a statement that it had changed the portfolio of the entire coaching staff, including Director Cricket Mickey Arthur.

“The PCB has changed the portfolio of the entire coaching staff including Director Cricket Mickey Arthur. All coaches will continue to work in National Cricket Academy while PCB will announce the new coaching staff in due course for the upcoming series in Australia and New Zealand,” it said.

These developments came after PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf had a meeting with Babar Azam.

Speaking highly of the batting ace, Zaka said: “Babar Azam is truly a world-class player and we want him to continue to thrive as a player. He is one of the best batters Pakistan has ever produced. He is our asset, and we will continue to support him. His batting prowess is a testament to his dedication and skill. He is a role model for the present generation.”

“We want to see him grow as a great batter and now without his additional burden of the captaincy, he can focus more on his performances to reach even greater heights. We respect his decision and will continue to back him,” he added.