Sunday December 05, 2021

Pakistan yet to decide World Cup captain

January 31, 2019

KARACHI: Sarfraz Ahmed’s fate as Pakistan captain hangs in balance and he will have to wait until the end of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to know whether he continues at the post because as per their existing policy, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be naming captains on a ‘series-to-series basis’, a PCB spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“We never revealed the length of Sarfraz Ahmed’s tenure,” he said. “We never said whether he was going to stay [as a captain] for one or two years. The PCB appoints captain on a series to series basis, and, as such, appointment for the series post PSL will be made in due course.”

This is an astonishing revelation as PCB chairman Ehsan Mani since taking over office last year has reiterated that Sarfraz will remain captain till the 2019 World Cup. But, as per the board’s policy, there are now doubts over who will lead the national side in the five-match ODI series against Australia in March/April.

Sarfraz’s captaincy has been under-scrutiny since Pakistan’s deplorable run in the Asia Cup in September last year. His on-field tactics remained under question throughout the tournament and that coincided with a fall in his batting form. The pressure started to build when New Zealand beat Pakistan in a three-match Test series in the UAE, which was the latter’s second loss in a home series in a year. The Test series defeat in South Africa, during the course of which controversies regarding Mickey Arthur’s outburst on senior players including Sarfraz and the Pakistan captain’s statements regarding the work ethic of his fast-bowlers, further aggravated the situation for the 31-year-old. His on-field remarks directed at Andile Phehlukwayo, that were conceived as racist, during the second ODI, due to which he has been suspended for four limited-overs matches, added to questions regarding his ability to lead a national side.

Pakistan are currently led by Shoaib Malik in the remainder of the tour and there are suggestions to hand him the reins for the World Cup. During Sarfraz’s tenure as captain, Pakistan, notably, won the ICC Champions Trophy, held at the same venue as the upcoming World Cup, drew an away Test series against England, and secured the number one spot in the ICC T20I rankings.

But, his record with the bat has kept him under the radar. After he was handed Test captaincy, which made him Pakistan’s skipper across all formats, in September 2017, Sarfraz has scored 24.69 runs per dismissal which is almost 12 runs less than his overall record.