The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has sacked its veteran wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed as captain of both the Test and T20I side. Not only that, owing to his consistent ‘poor form’, Sarfaraz has also been dropped as a player from both the Test and T20I teams. While Azhar Ali has been appointed a captain for the Test matches, Babar Azam will lead the team in the T20Is.
There is no decision made as to whether Sarfaraz would continue as an ODI captain. Pakistan’s next assignment will be a three-match series against the Netherlands, but that would be in July next year. Elaborating on the decision to sack Safaraz, PCB released a statement stating, "It has been a difficult decision to drop Sarfaraz Ahmed, who has performed well as a player and a leader. But, his loss in form and confidence is visible and, in the best interest of the team, it has been decided to leave him out and provide him the opportunity to reflect and regroup himself and try to reclaim his form away from international cricket.
"Sarfaraz Ahmed's contributions are second to none and being the gutsy cricketer and fighter that we all know he is, I have no doubts he will be back in Pakistan colors at some stage. The decision on vice-captaincy will be made closer to the series, whilst captaincy for the ODIs will be finalized in due course as the national team's next assignment is scheduled from 4-9 July 2020 against the Netherlands in Amstelveen" the PCB release further added.
It was under Sarfaraz that Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in 2017, defeating a strong Indian side in the final. However, neither Sarfaraz not Pakistan has been consistent in ODIs since, with the team failing to make it to the World Cup 2019 knock-outs.
Speaking after being removed as captain, Sarfaraz thanked everyone for the support and wished the new captains good luck. "It has been an honor to lead Pakistan at the highest level. I want to thank all my colleagues, coaches, and selectors who have helped me in this journey. My good wishes are with Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, and the Pakistan cricket team, and I hope they will continue to grow stronger and stronger," Sarfaraz said.
While Ali has been made Pakistan’s captain for the World Test Championship for the 2019-20 season, Azam will lead the T20 team till the ICC T20 World Cup 2020, which will be held in Australia.
--Renin Wilben Albert