PCB chief to make final call on captaincy

Published March 29, 2024
ABBOTABAD: Pakistan cricketers jog during a training session at the Pakistan Military Academy on Wednesday.—courtesy PCB
ABBOTABAD: Pakistan cricketers jog during a training session at the Pakistan Military Academy on Wednesday.—courtesy PCB

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Mohsin Naqvi may have announced the recently-formed selection committee as the sole authority to make a decision over the national side’s Twenty20 Interna­tional captaincy, but as it has emerged, the PCB chief may well be the one who makes the final call.

Mohsin, a media mogul-turned politician, who was elected as the PCB chairman earlier this year — before also going on to become the federal interior minister — had formed what is meant to be a seven-member selection committee, which currently has four members in former Test players Asad Shafiq, Wahab Riaz, Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf.

The quartet was assigned to finalise one of the remaining three members of the selection committee; the captain, with the head coach and data analyst to be appointed by Mohsin himself.

While the PCB chair had claimed that he will not interfere in the selection committee’s matters, Dawn has learnt he is set to decide from among four Pakistan mainstays, the names of whom have been given to Mohsin by the committee.

The PCB’s Board of Governors, too, doesn’t seem to be in a position powerful enough to make a decision over Pakistan’s captaincy.

According to sources, there are chances of Babar Azam’s return as Pakistan’s captain after an unceremonious exit from the role following the side’s dismal show in last year’s Asia Cup and the 50-over World Cup after he had lead the team for nearly three years.

Dawn understands that the surprising recommendation to reinstate Babar as Pakistan skipper came from Yousuf and Razzaq, both of whom are close to former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is managed by the same agent as Babar’s.

The agent in question represents a number of players in the Pakistan camp, and his involvement in giving a tough time to the PCB — then led by Zaka Ashraf — through tough negotiations over some controversial sponsorship opportunities, which led to Zaka demanding a resignation from Babar.

The right-hander was replaced by opener Shan Masood as Test captain and pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi as T20 skipper, who led Pakistan in one series — a 4-1 loss against New Zealand — before reports emerged that the lanky fast bowler may lose the position before the side’s next assignment.

The left-armer, however, is still in contention to continue as Pakistan captain, but so are wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan and all-rounder Shadab Khan — who led their respective franchise side’s Multan Sultans and Islamabad United to the HBL Pakistan Super League final recently, with Shadab lifting the trophy at the end.

Shaheen’s bowling in the New Zealand series was decent as he took nine wickets to end up as the second-highest wicket-taker after Tim Southee. But he looked under pressure in his role as the captain of PSL franchise Lahore Qalandars this year, despite the team having won two consecutive titles under Shaheen.

In the recently-concluded season, the Qalandars finished at the bottom of league stage standings, missing out on the playoffs, with Shaheen losing his cool at some instances, which fueled talks over his future as the Pakistan skipper.

Pakistan have started their preparations for their upcoming assignment — another five-match T20 series against New Zealand, this time at home — at the country’s military academy in the town of Kakul in Abbotabad.

The PCB is yet to find a head coach for the national side, and has had failed negotiations with former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and ex West Indies skipper Darren Sammy.

According to recent reports, former Australia and New Zealand international Luke Ronchi has also been approached by the PCB, but in a rapid development on Thursday, another Australian, ex pacer Jason Gillespie has emerged as a name the board is considering after he stepped down from his role as coach with South Australia Cricket Association and Adelaide Strikers.

The PCB, sources said, will finalise the name of captain and head coach and of other coaching staff in the coming week, which will automatically complete the selection committee, with a data analyst being one of the members.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2024

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