Besmirched by controversies and a series of poor results, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has finally made a wise move by appointing Sarfraz Ahmed as captain of the national Twenty20 team. The Karachi-born 29-year-old takes over the mantle from Shahid Afridi who failed to deliver while at the helm, with Pakistan crashing out of the group stage of the recently concluded World Twenty20 in India. He was appointed vice-captain after the ODI World Cup last year. For the last 18 months, the wicket-keeper has been one of the mainstays for the team in all three formats. His batting has been a breath of fresh air in what has been a largely drab period for Pakistan. Sarfraz has previous captaincy experience as he has led Pakistan to the under-19 World Cup title as well as the Quetta Gladiators in the first edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) earlier in the year, and has displayed great leadership qualities and an understanding of the game, a trait often found missing from the repertoire of some recent national captains.
While the captaincy issue may have been resolved for now, the successor to Waqar Younis is likely to be finalised in the next fortnight or so. The PCB might look for another stint with a foreign coach, following the less-than-inspiring tenure by Waqar. Since the 1999 World Cup, several foreign head coaches have worked with the national team but none of them have succeeded in making a sustained impact or bringing a change to the cricketing and coaching system in the country. Among the local candidates, Aaqib Javed is being touted as a front-runner to replace Waqar. Important as the decisions to appoint the new captain and coach are, what we must not forget is that the root cause of the national team’s poor show has been the poor cricketing infrastructure in the country and the dishevelled state of domestic cricket, and there appears to be little will on the part of the authorities to initiate long-standing reforms in this regard. As long as that remains the case, any improvement in the national team’s fortunes will remain short-lived.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2016.
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