Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is the governing body that controls this country’s cricket system. We often ponder on the reasons behind our cricket performances being unpredictable, but we don’t acknowledge the fact that the same kind of character possesses our cricket board as well. An example would be PCB naming Azhar Ali as the new ODI Captain after Misbahul Haq’s retirement.
It may result in being a burden for the youngster as he is yet to make an impact in a particular format. Moreover, he has to not only lead an inexperienced side, but also cement his place in a struggling team which is full of youngsters who don’t get to play at home and players who are making a comeback after injuries and after remodelling their actions.
In the Bangladesh series, Pakistan got white washed in the ODI series and slumped down to their lowest ever ranking in ODI Cricket. However it was not Azhar’s fault. Our selectors did not take the series seriously and we had to pay the price for their judgement. We sent bowlers who were lacking due to their injuries or a ban on their bowling action in a middle order that did not have any experienced players on the international level either. Moreover, we had a coaching staff that kept making blunders. However, Azhar, the batsman, stood out and is proving all of us wrong with every inning as we were quite sceptical about his delivery as an ODI batsman.
Luckily, our fears did not become the reality we expected and Azhar proved us wrong.
First of all, he opted to open the innings and that was the best place for him to bat for all the logical reasons. He proved to be innovative and ready to take the bowling face on. Most importantly, he was looking to take singles and was striving to keep the strike rotating, much opposite to his presider, Misbah. The evidence of his performance appraisal is apparent through statistics that verifies increase in his strike rate from 64 in the first 14 ODIs to 75 after 19 ODIs, plus his consistency was never an issue.
Having said that, Azhar’s captaincy is not as perfect compared to his batting in the first five ODIs. Errors such as having no slips for Yasir Shah in the first and second ODI against Zimbabwe until the wicket fell because of a poor shot. Removing Muhammad Sami after just four overs in the first ODI, when he seemed to be in good rhythm and not using Haris Sohail as a bowler at all, were also bad decisions.
Nonetheless, Azhar can’t be blamed for that, it’s again PCB’s fault that Azhar doesn’t seem to have the ability to contemplate proactively thus would react to a situation in an impulse manner. PCB commonly seems short sighted and therefore they didn’t have any idea on who should replace Misbah once he retires. They appoint a bloke who has never captained a department or state side from where he played. Furthermore, the PCB didn’t ask the department or the state side to give him the captaincy role in order to groom him to become a leader in the future.
I fear that the Pakistan team may have to pay a heavy price for this.
As a Pakistani cricket fan, I hope and wish that Azhar proves us wrong each and every time he is out leading Pakistan, which he has but only as a batsman. His captaincy, however, is what we are waiting for. He should know that the trust and hope of the nation, which consists of countless cricket fans, relies on him.
For the Pakistani cricket fans, it’s about time we give our freshly elected captain some time to prove himself; we may not have to pay the price that we are dreading so much. Either way, it’s time to support the men in green, with Azhar in charge for the spot in Champions Trophy 2017. Fingers crossed, we wait to watch the young Azhar “the batsman” transform into the innovative Azhar “the captain”.
The article originally appeared on The Express Tribune Blogs