Pakistan cricket is undergoing a leadership shuffle as Babar Azam steps down as captain across all formats following the team’s exit from the group stages in the ODI World Cup. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has named Shan Masood as the new Test captain, marking a significant change in the team’s hierarchy.
The PCB has confirmed that Masood will continue to lead the Test side through the World Test Championship cycle of 2023-25.
In his statement, Babar Azam expressed the difficulty of the decision but deemed it the right time for the change. “I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats,” he added, showing his commitment to contributing as a player despite relinquishing captaincy duties.
The PCB has also appointed left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the T20 captain, with a five-match T20 series scheduled against New Zealand in January after the Australia tour.
Despite the challenges faced by Pakistan in the ODI World Cup, where they won four out of nine games, Babar Azam’s performance with the bat was noteworthy. He scored 320 runs in nine games at an average of 40. However, Pakistan missed the semi-finals after finishing fifth.
In a meeting with the chairman of the PCB managing committee, Zaka Ashraf, in Lahore, Babar discussed the team’s World Cup performance. The PCB expressed its desire for Babar to continue as Test captain to focus on one format, but he opted against it.
“Babar is truly a world-class player, and we want him to continue to thrive as a player,” said Zaka Ashraf. “He is one of the best batters Pakistan has ever produced.”
During Babar’s captaincy, Pakistan achieved the No.1 ranking in ODIs, but the team faced a decline in performance leading up to the World Cup. Pakistan’s struggle continued in the tournament, losing crucial matches.
Babar Azam’s decision to step down has led to mixed reactions, with some former cricketers criticizing his captaincy. However, teammate Mohammad Rizwan praised Babar’s efforts, highlighting his honesty, love, integrity, and dedication to Pakistan.
Pakistan is preparing for the upcoming tours of Australia and New Zealand. So, the PCB has planned changes to the entire coaching staff. Director of Cricket Mickey Arthur will continue his role at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore, contributing to the development of cricket talent.