Babar Azam offered to retain Test captaincy as PCB likely to appoint new ODI skipper: sources

Green Shirts' captain has been facing criticism for team's dismal performance, early elimination from World Cup 2023

By
Sohail Imran
PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf (left) and now former skipper Babar Azam meeting at PCBs Lahore headquarters on November 15, 2023. — PCB
PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf (left) and now former skipper Babar Azam meeting at PCB's Lahore headquarters on November 15, 2023. — PCB

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket team captain Babar Azam has reportedly been offered to retain captaincy for red-ball cricket as the board is likely to appoint a new skipper for one-day internationals (ODIs), sources told Geo News.

The development comes as the 29-year-old met Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

The sources also said that the board decided to retain Babar as captain for the upcoming Test series against Australia scheduled to commence on December 14 next month.

The board has not yet decided upon who will replace Babar in the white-ball cricket, the sources added.

During the 45-minute-long meeting, the duo discussed the team's performance in the World Cup 2023.

Also, the right-hand batter was apprised that the PCB would bring in a new captain for the ODIs and T20Is.

It is not yet clear whether a single individual will be appointed for both forms of white-ball cricket or two captains will be brought in for the 50-over and 20-over formats, respectively.

Earlier, Geo News reported that Babar is not in favour of retaining captaincy for any one format and is likely to step down from the captaincy of all three formats if he is made the national side's skipper for one format.

For now, the decision rests with the skipper as to whether he continues as Test captain or not.

It is to be noted that Babar was appointed white-ball captain in 2019 and as Test skipper in 2020.

The board is expected to make relevant announcements in a few hours, sources said.

An official statement issued following the meeting said the PCB chief and Babar had a “cordial meeting” to discuss various aspects and the World Cup performance.

“Babar was asked to continue as Test captain, while he has been relieved of captaincy in white-ball cricket for him to focus on one format,” the statement added.

After consultation with his family, Babar decided to step down and PCB stands behind his decision, the PCB said.

“PCB respects his decision and continues to support him as a player.”

In the statement, Ashraf described Babar as truly a world-class player, saying the cricket board wanted him to continue to thrive as a player.

"He is one of the best batters Pakistan has ever produced. He is our asset [...] We want to see him grow as a great batter and now without his additional burden of the captaincy, he can focus more on his performances," Ashraf said.

"We will continue to support him," he added.

Separately, the PCB's top head also held another meeting with the team's management at Lahore's National Cricket Academy.

During the meeting, Ashraf expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the coaches who were told that the board will bring in new coaching staff in the coming days.

The board has made changes to the portfolio of coaching staff saying " all coaches will continue to work in the National Cricket Academy" and that the new coaching staff for the upcoming series in Australia and New Zealand will be announced soon.

The PCB's major shuffle comes as both the board and the team management along with the skipper have been under scrutiny over the Pakistan team's underwhelming performance in the World Cup 2023.

The team finished in the fifth position after losing five out of their total nine matches — including defeats against arch-rivals India and Afghanistan.