Zaka Ashraf's alleged audio leak about Babar Azam's captaincy

Audio clip allegedly involves PCB chief discussing matters pertaining to team with two unidentified inviduals

Sports Desk

PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf (left) and former skipper Babar Azam. — Online/Reuters/File
PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf (left) and former skipper Babar Azam. — Online/Reuters/File

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf has been caught in another controversy in the form of an alleged audio leak involving former Pakistan captain Babar Azam.

In the audio clip spanning two minutes and 15 seconds, a voice resembling that of Ashraf is allegedly heard talking to an unidentified woman about matters pertaining to the recent changes made in the team's leadership — Babar's change of captaincy to be precise.

This is not the first time a controversy has emerged involving Babar and the PCB chief. Previously, a conversation between the star batter and board's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Salman Naseer was leaked and subsequently aired on a private news channel in October.

The chat showed text messages exchanged between the duo where the skipper denied calling PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf when asked about the rumours that he was trying to call the board's chief with the latter answering his calls.

The latest audio leak includes a conversation involving three people including the PCB Management Committee chairman and two other unidentified individuals who can be heard discussing matters pertaining to the national side.

Most of the conversation was between the woman and Ashraf, wherein the two discussed the influence of friendship and players' agents in the team.

"We have seen how the captain prefers to play his close friends, there was no place for Shadab Khan [in the World Cup]," said the unidentified woman.

“Pakistan cricket is deteriorating because of this,” Ashraf concurred.

Another unknown individual in the audio said: “Hasan Ali also played because of the same reason [being Babar’s friend].

To which the woman replied: “No, Hasan played because Naseem [Shah] wasn’t there."

The PCB chief then went on to talk about an agent named Talha, saying that he has eight players in his control so much that he even visits their homes to build great relationships.

"There is this guy named Talha. He is a player agent. He has controlled eight players of the national team. He has signed contracts with the players [...] he is such a smart guy that he has built a lot of relationships with the players' families by going to the players' houses, and the players can't move without him. Talha Osmani, I think I don't know what his name is,” Ashraf said.

He then added that he offered Babar Test cricket captaincy, but he said he needed to take his family’s advice, in reality, however, he wanted to call Talha.

“I had told Babar that you should keep the Test captaincy, I am thinking of removing you from the white ball. He [Babar] replied, 'Well, I will discuss this at home, and then I will tell you my decision'. Babar called Talha and consulted him, and Talha advised him to leave everything,” the PCB official claimed.

Ashraf then revealed that he already had a "plan B" prepared should such a situation arrive, and when Babar confirmed he would step down across formats, he called that person and said: “Chal bhai, ab tu captain hai. (Come, now you are the captain)”.

The unidentified woman was confused so she asked who’s the captain wondering if it was Shan Masood, to which Ashraf replied, “No, it is Shaheen Afridi,” after which the woman questioned wasn’t Mohammad Rizwan the best option.

“I liked Rizwan a lot but he too was involved with Babar and Talha,” the PCB chief argued.

The woman then said: “But Shaheen is under the control of Shahid Afridi, his father-in-law and he interferes a lot," to which the unknown person sitting there said, "This much [interefence] is very common".