Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan has thrown his weight behind struggling T20 skipper Shahid Afridi, for now, stating that he will lead Pakistan in the World T20 starting this month in India.
Pakistan were knocked out of the race to play the Asia Cup final after being defeated by hosts Bangladesh on Wednesday. The loss led to public outrage and there were calls to make wholesale changes by axing Afridi, the team management and even the selection committee.
However, the PCB chief said that while changes may eventually be made, there won’t be any kneejerk reactions right now.
“Afridi will lead Pakistan in the World T20 even if I’m told by my advisors Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan to remove him,” said Shaharyar while addressing media at the PCB headquarters in Lahore.
“We are considering Afridi’s captaincy but we can’t act too quickly,” he added. “Afridi has served Pakistan for 15 years and has been a match-winner. Changing the captain right now will be a disgrace for a great stalwart of Pakistan. When I came in as chairman, Afridi said that he wanted to captain the team in the 2016 World T20 and then retire.”
The official, however, assured that there will be changes in the team before Pakistan play their World T20 opener, and added that there will be accountability of the coach, the team’s performance, and the selection process of the team.
He further added that nobody will be made a scapegoat for the team’s poor showings in Bangladesh, while changes will come into effect later.
Shaharyar also hinted that once the final World T20 squad is selected after few more changes, the current selection committee led by Haroon Rasheed could be dissolved.
“We can’t finish this selection committee right now because they will be required to make changes in the next three to four days,” he said. “I had reservations on one or two players when the T20I team was submitted to me. I sent it back for reconsideration but the selectors said that it was their unanimous decision to carry the same team after discussions with Afridi and Waqar Younis.”
Reflecting on the issue of Pakistan’s match against India in the World T20, Shaharyar said that there are genuine threats to the Pakistan team and they will need an official announcement from the Indian government that the players will be safe.
“There is a Pakistan-specific threat in India with Shiv Sena, Congress and other groups publicly speaking against Pakistan,” he said. “The Himachal Pardesh Chief Minister, Virbahadur Singh, has also stated they can’t guarantee security to Pakistan. The Indian government should officially announce that they would ensure full security to Pakistan but that has not been done. We want reassurances from them.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2016.