On Friday, the Pakistan cricket hierarchy sacked Sarfaraz Ahmed as their Test and T20 captain. The decision came ahead of their tour of Australia, starting next month. Talking to The Indian Express, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani said the decision was taken to help Sarfaraz regroup and regain his form. Excerpts:
Is it a case that Sarfaraz has failed to meet fitness standards?
His form is struggling. There’s a lot of pressure on him. He voluntarily stepped down as captain (of his team, Sindh) in our (national) T20 tournament. It’s much better to take that pressure off him, just let him regroup and, hopefully, he will come back very strongly. So it’s just to make sure he gets back in the right frame of mind and not under pressure for a tough tour coming ahead.
So the decision to drop Sarfaraz is basically on form?
It’s only on form, nothing else.
Is this the end of the road for him, or you expect him to bounce back?
I hope not. We would very much like to see him come back. He is a very, very good player.
Why do you think Sarfaraz’s form has gone awry of late?
Look, it happens. It’s a sport. Some very great players over the years have had their struggles sometimes. So we have to give him every opportunity. He plays domestic matches here and then comes back strongly, I hope.
Did the pressure of the World Cup and the media trolls following a failed campaign force the PCB’s hand?
No, no. Media doesn’t bother me. It’s purely for the interest of the team and Sarfaraz’s best interests.
Azhar Ali as the Test captain, isn’t it going backwards? Babar Azam is the T20 captain. Don’t you think he would have been a better choice in the long form as well?
Azhar is very experienced. He has got a very good record in Australia. He has got a very good Test record. He is doing very well in our domestic tournaments. He is the most experienced player in the side and a world-class player. His batting average is very high (43.27). He has over 5,000 (5,669) runs in Tests. He has got 15 hundreds, a couple of them in Australia. He is a seriously good player.
Is his appointment Australia tour-specific?
He is a Test cricketer rather than just (a) short-form (player).