Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq was the first player to return home after the team’s failure at the ICC Champions Trophy, with the squad opting to come back to the country in installments.
The national team’s dismal performance was evident from their bottom-placed finish as they lost all three of their group matches. The disappointing show from the batsmen triggered calls for accountability from the team and its officials as angry fans, who were hoping for a maiden title from the team, quick-fired blame their way.
Amid the scenario, the players dispersed in England and planned their arrival to Pakistan in groups.
Shafiq, the middle-order batsman, was the first player to return as he arrived at the Karachi International Airport early yesterday morning. The Karachi-based player, however, refused to speak to the media.
According to a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official, a group of several players, including team manager Naveed Akram Cheema, are scheduled to return to Lahore today.
These include wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Irfan, besides assistant coach Shahid Aslam and other officials.
However, according to the official, Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat, who gave below par performances during the tournament, have decided to extend their stay in the UK.
Captain Misbahul Haq and Mohammad Hafeez will also stay back and make a return with the others over the next couple of weeks.
‘Changes certain for West Indies tour’
The team’s bleak performance has not only left followers furious, but has also embarrassed senior PCB officials who are now planning to carry out ‘strict’ measures.
“The board will take decisions on the basis of the team management’s report, including the manager and coach,” said a senior board official.
“A committee may be formed to probe into the team’s failure so that appropriate decisions can then be made.
“The changes will come into effect for the West Indies tour. Players in the preliminary squad who didn’t make the cut for the Champions Trophy will be considered.
“Sweeping changes might not be on the cards but three to four players who caused major disappointment will definitely get the axe.”
Meanwhile, next up for Pakistan is the limited-over series in the Caribbean later this summer.
“In the chairman’s absence – who has been suspended by the court – CEO Subhan Ahmad may review the report along with other senior PCB officials including the chairman selection committee,” said the official.
The Islamabad High Court that suspended Zaka Ashraf as PCB chairman last month directed the Inter Provincial Coordination to appoint an acting chairman who would represent the PCB at the International Cricket Council meeting.
‘Future of the PCB setup uncertain’
On the other hand, the official admitted the future of the PCB body was uncertain at this point.
“There is a general feeling that the entire current setup – the chairman, team officials and the selection committee might change before this tour.
“But we are continuing to work under normal circumstances and seek a report by the team management as soon as it returns.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2013.