LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board might not be able to bring about major changes in the national team in the wake of the side’s dismal performance in the T20 World Cup as that could lead to a confrontation with senior players, the Press Trust of India news agency reported on Wednesday.

PCB’s governing board, scheduled to meet on Saturday, will take cognizance of white-ball head coach Gary Kirsten and senior team manager Wahab Riaz’s reports submitted to chairman Mohsin Naqvi. But a source told PTI only cosmetic changes will take place and the “same set of players would likely continue to play”.

Mohsin had been quoted as saying following Pakistan’s defeat to India in the World Cup that a “major surgery” was required in the team.

“The reports by Kirsten and Riaz will help the Governing Board and chairman Naqvi decide the next course of action but all indications are there Naqvi doesn’t want a confrontation with senior players and he has also been advised against massive changes in the team,” a source told PTI.

“There are so many outside voices and pressures from within the system that all this talk about big changes is unlikely to happen. So, basically, with a few changes, the same set of players will be in the Pakistan team for coming games as well in all formats.”

On whether Babar Azam would be retained as white-ball captain following the dismal T20 World Cup showing, another source said that while there is a group, including some former Test captains which want to see Shaheen Shah Afridi replace Babar, if there are changes, the prime candidates for captaincy would be Shan Masood and Mohammad Rizwan.

“You could see cosmetic changes, like changes in the selection committee, and the same old story of reorganising domestic cricket to help do damage control. But the senior players remain strong,” he said.

Kirsten’s report is said to contain the same observations he made during his interaction with the players in the dressing room after the match against Ireland in the Group stage.

Kirsten had warned senior pros on the side following the team’s loss to the USA and India to adapt to new skill sets and improve their game awareness or get left behind. Wahab, on the other hand, outlined personality clashes in the side during the World Cup.

Pakistan next play a two-Test series against Bangladesh followed by three Tests against England. It is unlikely that senior players like Babar and Rizwan would want to take a break from these assignments.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2024

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