Babar Azam Wednesday announced stepping down as the skipper of the national side from all formats, ending his years-long stint in the leading position, following a humiliating World Cup campaign.
The now-former skipper was under fire for several months after Pakistan failed to perform in the Asia Cup and continued the same momentum into the World Cup — where they crashed out before reaching the semis.
Babar made the major announcement just moments after he met Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, where, sources told Geo News, he was offered to remain the team’s skipper in Tests, but he refused.
Recalling the first time he was appointed as captain for the white-ball format, Babar said he “vividly” remembers the moment — as it is for people who are asked to take on a huge role.
“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,” Babar said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
Babar Azam hailed the side for collective effort in becoming the top-ranked side in ODIs.
“Reaching the number 1 spot in the white-ball format was a result of the collective efforts of players, coaches, and management but I’d like to express my gratitude to passionate Pakistan cricket fans for their unwavering support during this journey.”
Meanwhile, he assured his support for the new captain. “I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats. I am here to support the new captain and the team with my experience and dedication.”
He concluded by thanking PCB for the support.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board for entrusting me with this significant responsibility.”
Separate captains for white and red-ball cricket
Remember, the PCB has not revealed the names of potential candidates who will replace the 29-year-old but Shan Masood is likely to take the place of Azam as a captain for the Australia Tour while Shaheen Shah Afridi will take the realm in T20I series against New Zealand.
Shaheen might also lead the Green Shirts in next year’s T20 World Cup, the sources said.
Babar was appointed white-ball captain in 2019 and as Test skipper in 2020, but the Green Shirts have not won any ICC or Asia Cup titles under his leadership.
Although the Pakistan team went into the World Cup ranked as the top side, they failed to prove their mettle and crashed out of the tournament in the group stage.
They created multiple unwanted records as the team lost four consecutive matches and five overall in the mega event, for the first time in Pakistan’s history.
Other than that, Babar’s performance as a batter was not according to his standards as the right-handed batter only managed to amass 320 runs in nine World Cup matches at a 40.00 average with a strike rate of 82.90.
It must be noted that the World Cup 2023 was Azam’s fifth tournament as a captain after the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cup and 2022 and 2023 Asia Cup where the failed to bag any silverware.