After experiencing a string of consecutive losses in the 2023 Cricket World Cup, Captain Babar Azam is facing significant scrutiny and pressure. Prominent former cricketers, including Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raja, have criticized his leadership for being overly conservative and lacking creativity. According to a report from the Press Trust of India, there is a possibility that he might be replaced as the team’s captain following the World Cup.
It is worth noting that three potential candidates are being considered to assume the captaincy role, namely Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan, and Sarfaraz Ahmed. Additionally, there is a possibility that Pakistan may appoint separate captains for the different formats of the game.
An insider from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has informed PTI that unless Pakistan manages to achieve a remarkable turnaround in the World Cup and secure a spot in the semifinals, Babar Azam’s future as captain is in jeopardy. The source stated, “Babar Azam stands any chance of surviving as captain only if Pakistan can stage a miracle and win all their remaining matches to qualify for the semi-finals of this World Cup. Even then, he might be relegated to the role of captain in just the red ball format.”
Babar was given the authority to select his preferred team for the World Cup, which has intensified the pressure on him. This implies that he is accountable for the tournament’s outcomes. According to the report, members of the technical committee, such as Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez, had suggested certain changes to the World Cup squad, but Babar rejected all of them. PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf also supported Babar, stating, “It is over for Babar because he has been given unbridled power and authority as captain, and, more importantly, he has always had players of his choice in the team.” The source added, “There has never been any attempt to reduce his authority, and so he is now being held solely responsible for the Asia Cup and World Cup defeats.”
Misbah, speaking after the loss to Afghanistan, revealed that he had recommended including the mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed in the World Cup squad, but Babar did not take that advice into consideration.
“The Test and ODI sides might see Sarfaraz as the captain once again, while Shaheen may have the opportunity to lead the T20 side,” the source suggested. It should be noted that Sarfaraz is not currently part of the World Cup squad.
Furthermore, the coaching staff is also under scrutiny due to the dismal campaign. Mickey Arthur, Grant Bradburn, Mornie Merkel, Andrew Puttick, and manager Rehan ul Haq may face the possibility of being relieved of their duties if Pakistan is eliminated in the group stage of the tournament.