Confusion reigned supreme in Pakistan cricket once again after the drubbing the national team received at the hands of England in the ongoing one-day series that ends on Sunday.
The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Shaharyar Khan apparently is also confused over whether to change the captain of the national one-day team ahead of the series against the West Indies in the UAE or not.
In an interview to the daily “Jang” newspaper, Khan who is in London these days on a private visit, confirmed that the board was contemplating appointing a new captain in place of Azhar Ali before the West Indies series.
“Yes we are thinking about it and we will sit down and discuss it before the team is announced for the West Indies series,” Khan said.
But two days later he was quoted on a cricket website as saying that the PCB would give Azhar Ali more time to prove himself as a worthy captain.
To further confuse matters, the media has reported that the PCB officials in London have apparently conveyed to Azhar that it would be best for him to step down himself as he was a senior player and they didn’t want to announce they had removed him.
The senior batsman was a surprise choice as the Pakistan ODI captain after Misbah-ul-Haq retired from the format following last year’s World Cup.
The board surprised everyone by appointing Azhar although he had not been considered for ODI cricket since mid October by the national selectors.
Pakistan’s former captain and great, Wasim Akram, however, has pleaded for time to be given to the players to settle down.
“They are young players and things will not change overnight, we have to be patient now,” he said on Geo channel.
Interestingly, just a few days earlier Wasim had said that the board should appoint wicketkeeper, Sarfaraz Ahmed as the ODI captain as well as Azhar had failed to inspire his players in this format.
Former players also appear to be divided over the decisions that the PCB should take after the England tour to revive the ODI and T20 squads.
While former captain, Muhammad Yousuf believes that no more time should be wasted in making necessary changes, former captain, Rashid Latif appears to have a different view as he believes Pakistan cricket is not dead in ODI and T20 formats and the young players need to be given more time.
But Pakistan’s former allrounder and now Director of the national academy, Mudassar Nazar said that Pakistan was in dire straits in limited overs cricket.
“I have changed my mind after the recent results and I think we are in dire straits and we need to change the way we approach one-day cricket. I have already made changes to the NCA program because we need to have specialist players for ODI and T20 cricket,” Nazar told PTI.
Official sources in the PCB told PTI that no one was happy with the way Azhar had led the side in England.
“There is a move to ask him to step down himself and bring in Sarfaraz but there is also a worry that more time should first be given to Sarfaraz to gain some experience as T20 captain before giving him this responsibility to him and this would also give the board more time to access Azhar’s performance as captain,” one source said.
He said everything will now rely on the reports and advice of head coach Arthur and chief selector, Inzamam-ul-Haq who have been in constant touch during the ODI series.
“Both of them are in total agreement that some players will have to be sidelined after the tour as they are not fit for modern day ODIs and new players need to be introduced,” he said.
Asked about speculations that Arthur and Inzamam had even discussed the possiblity of asking test captain, Misbah to make a comeback to ODIs and were considered recalling Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal and even Shahid Afridi, the source said he could neither deny or confirm the speculations.
“What is clear is that it is a dire situation for Pakistan cricket and everyone is worried because we are at number nine in the ICC ODI rankings and if we also end up not winning against the West Indies in this format next month we would well be forced to play in the World Cup 2019 qualifiers and that would be a disaster,” the source said.