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'Right time': Babar Azam makes shock Pakistan captaincy call across all three formats

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15th November, 2023
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Babar Azam has quit as Pakistan captain after his team failed to advance from the group stages at the Cricket World Cup.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has appointed Shan Masood as the new Test captain instead and said on Wednesday that the left-handed opener will stay as skipper through the World Test Championship cycle of 2023-25. 

It means Masood’s first assignment will be Pakistan’s tour next month to Australia where they will play three Test matches.

“Today, I am stepping down as the captain of Pakistan in all formats,” Babar, one of the world’s leading batters, said in a statement.

“It’s a difficult decision but I feel it is a right time for this call. I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats.”

Left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi was named T20 captain with Pakistan scheduled to play a five-match T20 series in New Zealand in January after the tour of Australia. 

Babar thanked the PCB for choosing him as all-format captain four years ago and said he would continue to support the new captain and “the team with my experience and dedication.”

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Babar scored 320 runs in nine World Cup games at an average of 40 in the ongoing edition as Pakistan won four of their nine games but missed the semi-finals after finishing fifth.

“Over the past four years, I’ve experienced many highs and lows on and off the field, but I wholeheartedly and passionately aimed to maintain Pakistan’s pride and respect in the cricket world,” said Babar.

Babar met with the chairman of the PCB managing committee, Zaka Ashraf, in Lahore on Wednesday to discuss the team’s performance at the World Cup.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 09: Babar Azam of Pakistan bduring the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Semi Final match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on November 09, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Babar Azam. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The PCB said in a statement that Babar had been asked to continue as Test captain “so that he could focus on one format” but he decided against this.

“Babar is truly a world-class player and we want him to continue to thrive as a player,” Ashraf said. “He is one of the best batters Pakistan has ever produced.”

During Babar’s tenure as captain, Pakistan rose to No.1 in the ODI rankings, but there was a sharp decline in the team’s performance before the World Cup in India.

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In the absence of injured fast bowler Naseem Shah, Pakistan struggled in the World Cup too, losing to India, Australia, Afghanistan, South Africa and England.

Pakistan’s below-par performance led many former Test cricketers, including Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal, to criticise Babar’s captaincy.

But Babar’s teammate Mohammad Rizwan lauded Babar’s efforts as skipper.

“Your honesty, love, integrity, thoughts, and efforts for Pakistan as the captain are the things to look up to. May you continue to shine for Pakistan,” Rizwan said on X.

The PCB said that it has planned to change the entire coaching staff for the twin tours of Australia and New Zealand.

Director of cricket Mickey Arthur will continue to work at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.

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© AAP

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