LAHORE: While terming Pakistan Cricket Board’s step of removing Shaheen Shah Afridi as captain to bring back Babar Azam a hasty decision, former PCB chief Zaka Ashraf has criticised the composition of the national selection committee announced recently.

“Shaheen should have been given some more time, at least one year, so that his performance [as skipper] could be analysed before taking any decision in this connection,” Zaka said while talking to reporters at an Iftar party in Lahore on Saturday.

During Zaka’s tenure as PCB chief, Babar stepped down as captain of all three formats, and Shaheen was named the T20 skipper following Pakistan’s disastrous show in the Asia Cup and the World Cup in November last year. However, Pakistan under Shaheen in his first series as national captain suffered a 4-1 drubbing in New Zealand in January.

“We took the decision to change Babar as captain because though he is the best batsman of the world but we observed that he as captain looked under pressure. So we replaced him [with Shaheen] so that he can fully concentrate on his batting,” Zaka said.

“We wanted to keep Babar as Test captain but he gave up the captaincy of all formats; it was his own [Babar’s] decision.

“However, now as the PCB has brought Babar back [as captain] as a Pakistani I can have best wishes for the national team,” he said.

The seven-member national selection committee announced by the Mohsin Raza Naqvi-led PCB contains seven members out of whom five members — Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, Wahab Riaz, Babar Azam and analyst Bilal Azhar — are prominent former cricketers from Lahore. Only one member, former Pakistan batter Asad Shafiq, belongs to Karachi.

To a question regarding the composition of the selection committee, Zaka said it was wrong.

“The national selection committee should have representation from all the provinces,” he said categorically and expressed surprise at the committee which has no head.

Answering a question, Zaka urged the PCB to announce the report of the inquiry which he had initiated against Saya Corporation, a players’ agent company which had signed around 44 Pakistan cricketers including Babar.

“The PCB should make the report public as it is not good that so many players are attached with only one company,” Zaka emphasised.

He said Wahab, the then chief selector and now a member of the selection committee, had no role in advising him over changing Babar as captain, saying it was the prerogative of the chairman to appoint a skipper.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2024

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