Cricketer-turned-analyst Ahmed Shehzad has said that Pakistan head coach Gary Kirsten’s alleged remarks on disunity within the squad in the aftermath of the team’s humiliating exit from World Cup 2024 were “not shocking at all”.

According to a Geo Super report based on sources, Kirsten reprimanded the team for their poor performance at the tournament where Pakistan, the 2009 champions and runners-up in 2007 and 2022, made a swift exit after losing their first two matches from winnable positions.

A stunning super-over humiliation at the hands of the United States was followed by a six-run loss to bitter rivals India in a game where they failed to chase down a paltry 120-run target.

Subsequently, after rain distributed equal points in the match between Ireland and the USA, Pakistan were indirectly knocked out of a T20 World Cup tournament’s group stages for the first time in their history.

Kirsten reportedly offered his blunt assessment of team unity in a meeting with the squad, and said that the players was separated left and right, adding that he had not seen such a situation despite having worked with several teams.

Dawn.com has reached out to the Pakistan Cricket Board for a comment.

Commenting on Kirsten’s alleged remarks, Shehzad, an outspoken critic of the cricket board and the current team leadership, said on Monday: “If Gary Kirsten’s team talk is true, it’s not shocking at all. We have been saying this throughout the World Cup. It’s time for accountability, this team is plagued with grouping and crackdown is the only option.”

“The players involved must be punished and an example should be set for [the] next generation of cricketers. PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board] chairman must take notice,” he added.

Commentary great Harsha Bhogle also offered his take on the development, saying that “when a private conversation within a dressing room is leaked, with a few embellishments […] it exposes the insecurity within.”

“It will be a learning curve for Gary Kirsten but he is a good man and Pakistan will do well to seek the benefits of his knowledge,” he said in a post on X.

“When he was with India, he was surrounded by some tough people but also players of impeccable character,” he said.

“It created a fabulous combo,” he added.

England captain Michael Vaughan deemed the remarks “strong but … very true”.

Sports presenter Fakhr-e-Alam deemed the unconfirmed remarks “deeply disturbing”, adding that “if it is true the players responsible must be taken out of the team irrespective of their stats and star status.”

Meanwhile, former India spinner Harbhajan Singh invited Kirsten to “come back to coach” team India, whom he lead to victory in the 2011 World Cup on home soil.

In his post on X yesterday, Singh said Kirsten was one of the rare gems of cricket.

“A great coach, mentor, honest and very dear friend to all in our 2011 Team. Our winning coach of [the] 2011 World Cup. Special man Gary.” Singh said.

Current Indian head coach Rahul Dravid is set to vacate the position at the end of the month once his contract expires, with Gautam Gambhir in pole position to take over.

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