FANS of Sarfraz Ahmed protest at his sacking as Pakistan captain outside his residence on Sunday.—Shakil Adil/White Star
FANS of Sarfraz Ahmed protest at his sacking as Pakistan captain outside his residence on Sunday.—Shakil Adil/White Star

KARACHI: Country’s former stalwarts on Sunday lashed out at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for acting in haste in removing Sarfraz Ahmed as captain in all three formats of the game.

Most of the former captains and players termed the removal of Sarfraz on Friday as unjust. Not surprisingly the head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis were also targeted and blamed for engineering the ouster of Sarfraz.

Sarfraz has been replaced as Test captain by Azhar Ali while Babar Azam will take over in T20s. A decision on the One-Day captaincy will be finalised in due course. The wicket-keeper/batsman is also unlikely to be part of the touring Pakistan T20 or Test squad to Australia later this month.

Batting legend Javed Miandad who is an ex-Pakistan captain said since Sarfraz had gained considerable experience as a captain in the last two years, he should have been given time to regain his form instead of just sacking him.

“Azhar’s appointment as Test captain is okay but if the Board wanted to appoint Babar as white-ball captain, they should have first groomed him as I fear the burden of T20 captaincy will affect his batting,” Miandad said.

Former Test batsman, ex-head coach and chief selector Mohsin Khan said: “He [Sarfraz] took Pakistan to number one in T20 cricket and he is a fighter. This is a decision taken in haste and it could also affect the career of Babar.”

Former captain Rashid Latif minced no words in stating that PCB had erred by making Babar captain of the T20 side. “He is a selfish player and we have seen this in international cricket and now in the national T20 championship. Sarfraz is not a selfish captain and sacrificed his position many times for the team. He did not deserve this treatment,” he said.

Another ex-skipper Moin Khan said he was shocked at the way the Board had treated Sarfraz.

“He [Sarfraz] has shown himself to be a fine captain and yes he was struggling a bit for form but when a senior player is under pressure you have to encourage and back him, not dump him like this,” Moin said.

“He noted that Misbah and Waqar had never been fond of Sarfraz and with them in charge, this sacking was expected.

“Misbah and Waqar never liked Sarfraz. I am shocked that the PCB has removed Sarfraz from captaincy in T20I cricket. He has led Pakistan to 11 consecutive T20I series’ win and you can’t remove him due to few poor performances,” he said.

Moin further warned Misbah was being handed too much power. “I think making a single person too powerful won’t work for Pakistan’s cricket.”

Former Test pacer Aaqib Javed also criticised the PCB for taking a strange decision. “I don’t know from where these decisions are coming but they make no sense at all to me. Sarfraz should have been relieved as Test captain but the Board should have given him some time as captain of white-ball cricket.”

Another former captain Ramiz Raja, however, felt that the PCB had taken a brave decision to appoint Babar as T20 captain and said people defending Sarfraz should accept his poor form in recent months as skipper.

“We were struggling in Test cricket, we did not reach semifinals of the World Cup. We lost to a Sri Lankan ‘B’ team in T20 cricket and his own form is on a decline. I think the Board acted properly by investing in a young player in the white-ball formats. If Babar develops into a good leader he can also become Test captain,” he said.

Former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said Sarfraz only had himself to blame for his ouster.

“I saw it coming for Sarfraz. Nobody else is to be blamed but him. Been telling him for two years to pull up his socks,” Shoaib tweeted.

Speaking on his YouTube channel, he said: “The situation which has occurred is due to his own fault. It was not someone else’s fault. I also want to tell you that they will not even keep him in the team. I can guarantee that right now. They will not give him a chance in the team.”

The PCB, meanwhile, made it clear that ousted Sarfraz will remain in category A of the central contracts given to players as he is available for selection in all three formats of the game.

Dismissing rumours that the board had decided to relegate Sarfraz to a lower category, a PCB spokesperson said Sarfraz would retain his top category in the central contracts which run till July next year.

“There will be no change in his central contract as he is available for selection in all three formats,” the spokesperson said.

The PCB has also issued an apology for a faux pas it committed just at the time it was announced that Sarfraz had been removed as captain from all three formats.

The PCB’s digital media team had uploaded a short video on its official page, in which a few players were found celebrating as a team official waved to Sarfraz to walk off, while adding it had beforehand decided to release the video as part of its build-up to the World T20 but unfortunately at the same time the news about the change in captaincy also came.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2019