World Cup debacle sees Azam quit in major Pakistan shake-up
LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP)— Pakistan cricket underwent a major shake-up in the aftermath of the team’s World Cup flop on Wednesday as Babar Azam quit as skipper with Shan Masood becoming Test captain, Shaheen Shah Afridi taking the reins of the white-ball side while coaches were downgraded.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials said they had sacked Azam as limited-overs skipper but still wanted him to remain in charge of the Test team.
“Today, I am stepping down as the captain of Pakistan in all formats,” Azam announced on X, formerly Twitter, after meeting PCB chief Zakar Ashraf in Lahore.
“It’s a difficult decision but I feel it is the right time for this call. I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats.”
Azam, 29, had been leading the side since November 2019 but after the failure to reach the World Cup semi-finals in India his position was immediately under threat.
“I am here to support the new captain and the team with my experience and dedication,” added Azam.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board for entrusting me with this significant responsibility.”
Minutes later, Masood was appointed skipper of the Test team until 2025 and Shaheen for white ball cricket without mentioning his tenure although the T20 World Cup takes place in the United States and Caribbean in 2024.
Former captain Mohammad Hafeez was appointed as team director, replacing Mickey Arthur in the new set-up.
Hafeez played 55 Tests, 218 ODIs and 119 T20Is in his career.
Azam said his journey had been a rollercoaster ride which culminated in a record of four wins and five losses at the World Cup.
As well as suffering an eighth defeat in eight meetings at World Cups against arch-rivals India, he also oversaw a first loss to neighbours Afghanistan.
“I vividly remember the moment when I received the call from the PCB to lead Pakistan in 2019. Over the past four years, I’ve experienced many highs and lows, on and off the field,” said Azam.
“But I wholeheartedly and passionately aimed to maintain Pakistan’s pride and respect in the cricket world.”
Ranked as the number one batsman before the World Cup, Azam failed to score big runs in India, finishing with 320 without a century over nine games
Azam led Pakistan in 20 Tests, winning ten, losing six and drawing the other four. In 43 ODIs, Pakistan won 26, losing 16 with one no result.
In the shortest format, Azam led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup in 2021 and a runners-up finish a year later.
In 71 T20Is, he enjoyed 41 wins, 23 losses with seven no results.
Pakistan has a tough tour of Australia coming up where they play three Tests, starting in Perth from December 14.
They have lost all of their last 14 Tests in the country with their most recent victory coming back in 1995.
Shan, 34, has featured in 30 Tests for Pakistan.
Shaheen, 23, will start his tenure with a five-match Twenty20 international series in New Zealand in January next year.
He led the Lahore franchise to two Pakistan Super League titles in 2022 and this year.