Sarfraz vows to rise to captaincy challenge

Published April 6, 2016
“In my book a senior player is just as important as a junior guy,” T20 captain Sarfraz Ahmed says. — AFP
“In my book a senior player is just as important as a junior guy,” T20 captain Sarfraz Ahmed says. — AFP

KARACHI: Newly-installed Pakistan T20 captain Sarfraz Ahmed has termed his elevation as huge challenge in the wake of disappointing results during the recent Asia Cup and the ICC World Twenty20.

The wicket-keeper/batsman, who on Tuesday was named by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as struggling all-rounder Shahid Afridi’s successor, pledged to create a cordial atmosphere amongst the players under his command.

“Leading your country is the biggest honour because out of the lot just a few get this opportunity. Having been the vice-captain for almost one year in both one-day and T20 formats, I have had the chance of monitoring the situation from game to game,” Sarfraz told Dawn in an exclusive interview shortly after being installed.

The 28-year-old, while admitting Pakistan had been going through difficult times, pledged to improve the team’s position on the ICC rankings where Pakistan have plunged to seventh spot.

“Obviously this hurts because not long ago we were the top T20 side in the world. Our aim will be rectify this downslide and to achieve this objective collective efforts to be made by all of us to raise a good, competitive Pakistan team,” he stressed.

Asked who would he address the problems within the squad, Sarfraz said that he has no qualms to solve the issues as long as there are no personal egos.

“I believe in unity and that’s would be main motto as captain. Ever since I started playing cricket, I have been taught to show respect all people, regardless of their ages,” he observed. “And having been part of Pakistan cricket, I have been through many ups and downs as a player and know how one feels if he is unwanted.

“This, certainly, is not my style of playing the game. And if you are the leader then one has to set examples for the others so that all of them contribute to a team goal. In my book a senior player is just as important as a junior guy. I have utmost respects for the senior players and always look upon them for inspiration.

“Captaincy is not new for me and there is no pressure on my mind. I had the privilege of leading Pakistan to the Under-19 World Cup title when we beat India in that thrilling final at Colombo in 2006,” he added. “I also had a taste of it when Azhar [Ali] was injured and could not play the last one-day match against Zimbabwe in October. We won that one to win the series 2-1.”

Sarfraz remained confident of camaraderie and support from his players. “Fortunately there is a considerable period before Pakistan play next T20 International [against England at Old Trafford on Sept 7] and this will help me and the team management to plan accordingly.

“But it doesn’t mean, we are going to relax because there is a very tough tour of Test and one-day tour of England coming up before the T20 fixture. As the ODI vice-captain, I have obligations on that front also. Azhar Ali as skipper has done a fair job and I have been helping him out as much I can. One never stops learning as you move ahead in life and both Azhar and me are going through this process.”

Sarfraz expressed his gratitude to current Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq and former skipper Younis Khan and added he learnt the finer points of leadership from the senior-most members of the Pakistan team.

“I consider myself extremely lucky to be sharing the same dressing-room as both of these wonderful cricketers. We all look upon them as our role-models and are proud of what they have achieved for Pakistan over the years,” Sarfraz pointed out.

“Misbah has been a great leader for Pakistan cricket and is a calming influence in the team. Younis is another who is around to guide the younger players.”

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2016

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