by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Babar Azam has stepped down as the captain of the Pakistan cricket team in all formats following their disappointing performance in the 2023 ODI World Cup, where they failed to qualify for the semi-finals with just four wins in nine matches.
In a statement announcing his decision, Babar expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to lead Pakistan since 2019 and acknowledged the highs and lows experienced during his captaincy. Despite reaching the No. 1 spot in the white-ball format, he felt that it was the right time to relinquish the captaincy. Babar emphasized his commitment to continue representing Pakistan as a player in all three formats and offered his support to the new captain and the team.
Babar scored 320 runs in nine World Cup matches, ranking as the third-highest for Pakistan, with an average of 40 and a strike rate of 82.90. While no official statement has been made regarding a replacement, Shan Masood is considered the front-runner for the Test captaincy.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) stated that Babar was given the option to continue as Test captain, while the decision to remove him as the white-ball skipper was presented as a fait accompli. The PCB expressed respect for Babar’s decision and reiterated their support for him as a player, emphasizing his status as a world-class batter.
Speculation about Babar’s future had been circulating since Pakistan’s World Cup exit, with uncertainty about a potential replacement. The situation was complicated by questions regarding the authority of the current PCB setup to make significant changes. Following a meeting at PCB headquarters, Babar resigned without providing a specific reason beyond feeling it was the right time.
It is understood that team director Mickey Arthur and head coach Grant Bradburn will not be sacked but will see reduced roles. They are not expected to be part of the traveling contingent for Pakistan’s upcoming Test series in Australia. There is no official announcement about their replacements for the tour, but Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, and Younis Khan are speculated to take on managerial roles.
Pakistan’s next tour begins on November 30, with a warm-up game against the Prime Minister’s XI at Manuka Oval from December 6 to 9. The first Test against Australia starts in Perth on December 14, followed by a series in New Zealand.