LAHORE: Former Pakistan Test captain Intikhab Alam says giving the captaincy of all three formats to fast-growing batsman Babar Azam is a premature decision of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), emphasising there should be different captains for red- and white-ball matches.
“Personally, I think the PCB has put extra burden on young Babar (26 years) and it is not easy for him to handle the pressure of international cricket in all three formats at this age. It would have been better had the PCB kept him [only] as white-ball captain and gave the Test captaincy to someone else,” Intikhab told Dawn on Friday.
The PCB last Tuesday removed Azhar Ali as Test captain and replaced him with the 26-year-old Babar who is already leading national ODI and Twenty20 teams. The decision has been taken at a time when seventh-ranked Pakistan later this month are embarking upon a demanding tour to New Zealand, second in ICC Test rankings, to play a series comprising two Tests and three T20 Internationals.
While New Zealand are above Pakistan in the Test rankings, in Twenty20s Pakistan are fourth and New Zealand sixth.
“Yes, Babar has been performing consistently as a batsman for the last couple of years and has cemented his place. This is a good omen for Pakistan cricket as our country badly needs batsmen of this quality. However, the pressure of captaincy [in three formats], can damage the performance of any individual and it happened in the past on a number of occasions with leading cricketers,” the 78-year-old Intikhab underlined.
Intikhab, however, backed PCB’s decision to remove Azhar from Test captaincy after a year during which Pakistan lost series in Australia (0-2 clean sweep) and England (0-1), and only managed to beat Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at home.
“I am not in favour of Azhar as skipper,” Intikhab, a veteran of 47 Tests, said.
“However, I am saying that it would have been better had the PCB appointed two captains, for white- and red-ball cricket.”
Babar was appointed limited-overs captain only last year, and he still needed more time to get mature with experience to be able to lead the Test side, Intikhab noted.
So far, Babar has led Pakistan in only three ODIs, all against a low-ranked team of Zimbabwe in a home series which the hosts won 2-1. The right-handed batsman has also captained Pakistan in 11 T20 Internationals, with six wins and three losses, while two games ended in no result.
However, Babar’s performance as batsman has remained quite satisfactory, which might have persuaded the PCB to give him the leadership in all formats.
“No doubt it will be a great challenge for Babar as the tour of New Zealand is tough and Pakistan have to win the Test series there to make their position strong in the ICC Test Championship,” Intikhab remarked.
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2020