Explainer – Understanding Babar Azam’s unexpected resignation as captain of the Pakistan national team – LSB

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Even by the standards that Pakistan cricket sets itself in the face of chaos, yesterday was a high-profile mark. A lengthy meeting at the PCB’s headquarters in the Gaddafi Stadium was followed by a sporadic cabinet reshuffle, beginning with Babar Azam’s reluctant resignation from captaincy of the Pakistan national team in all formats. Let’s take a look at what happened and what it means for Pakistani cricket.

First things first, why did Babar Azam resign?

Well, some degree of change always tends to follow poor ODI World Cup campaigns. When Pakistan failed to reach the semi-finals in 2019, head coach Mickey Arthur and batting coach Grant Flower were sent on. Within a year, Sarfaraz Ahmed was gone as captain of the ODI team.

Pressure has begun to mount on Babar’s leadership, and lingering concerns about his decision-making have not gone away, especially when it comes to in-game situations. When Babar was appointed Pakistan captain, it was not because of technical savvy; It was widely believed to be a weakness in his game. Instead, he was the team’s best batsman, and the only guaranteed bowler in all formats at that time.

He has overseen recent dismal performances with the Test team, including home defeats to Australia and England, Pakistan’s first-ever home whitewash. A home draw against New Zealand was followed by an impressive 2-0 away win in Sri Lanka, but those were Pakistan’s first Test victories in a year. Apart from his first series as captain in January 2021, Babar has never overseen a win in a Test match at home.

The 2023 Asian Cup was seen as a disappointment, with Pakistan finishing fourth, and in the 2023 World Cup, they lost five of nine matches, including one to Afghanistan, resulting in a first-round exit.

Would you say hesitant resignation?

There is limited evidence that Babar actually wanted to step down. After Pakistan’s final match in the World Cup, he told Michael Atherton in the post-match presentation that he wanted to lead the rebuilding process, and he confirmed this in the press conference. The PCB said it informed him yesterday that it had decided to remove him as white-ball captain, and offered him the opportunity to retain the Test captaincy. Babar apparently saw the writing on the wall after that and decided to resign in various forms.

Wait, this is an interim management committee. Can the captain really be sacked?

of course no. The PCB Chairman has the power to appoint and dismiss leaders, and while Zakka Ashraf is currently carrying out this task, he is the Chairman of the PCB Management Committee on an interim basis, a role that was extended for three months by Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister. . A court in Pakistan ruled that the committee did not have the authority to make major changes during its term and was to operate only on a caretaker basis.

So, to get rid of Babar as team captain, it was necessary for Babar to tender his resignation himself. In theory, had he refused, he would have remained Pakistan’s captain in all formats, and the PCB would have no mechanism to remove him.

Well, there would still be one way for her: simply not to choose him. But for obvious cricketing reasons, it always seemed unacceptable.

So who will replace him? Is it one person across forms?

We know that the answer to that is no. PCB seemed very, some might say suspiciously, ready to resign. Within an hour, it appointed Shan Masood, who had been recalled to the PCB headquarters in Lahore – even though the committee had ostensibly offered Babar the option of continuing as Test captain – as the new Test captain. Shaheen Afridi is the T20I captain. In a moment that perfectly sums up the business of PCB management, she also announced Shaheen as the ODI captain on social media, before that graphic was quickly deleted. She later said that the ODI captaincy would be announced “in due course”.

You mentioned that Mickey Arthur was sacked after the 2019 World Cup. What is his deal now? Is he still with Pakistan cricket?

Well, yes and no. The PCB announced that team manager Mickey Arthur, as well as head coach Grant Bradburn, had been “reassigned” to their roles. There is no information on what they have been reassigned to, but ESPNcricinfo understands this means neither will travel to Australia next month for Pakistan’s next assignment, a three-match Test series.

If coaches won’t travel with the team, why shouldn’t they be fired?

Because at this point the Council probably can’t. This would also likely fall outside the scope of what the PCB Board can do. In the absence of Arthur or Bradburn tendering their resignations, as Babar did, the PCB must keep them in office. It is known that resignations from neither of them are expected anytime soon.

So who will coach in his place in Australia?

Zakka Ashraf, among others, met Mohamed Hafeez on Tuesday, and the meeting apparently went well, because he offered him Arthur’s job. Hafeez will take over as team manager and it is understood that he will go to Australia and New Zealand with the team. The PCB is yet to announce a head coach for that round, and there is still no head selector. It is believed that Younis Khan and Wahab Riaz are the most likely candidates for these jobs.

Well, this all sounds quite chaotic. When will we get PCB management that is allowed to make actual decisions?

We thought we would have one by now when Ashraf took over the post, but with the interim government of Pakistan extending its role beyond the constitutionally mandated three months, the interim Prime Minister has also given Ashraf and the management committee another three months.

This would take us to February, when Pakistan is scheduled to hold general elections. Any Prime Minister who emerges from among these will have the power to nominate the PCB Council Chair, and once the PCB elections are held, the full PCB administration will have all the powers it has traditionally had.

What does this mean for Babar, Arthur, Bradburn, Masoud and Shaheen?

Simply put, any developments that occurred during the past 24 hours are subject to reversal. If Najim Sethi returns to the chairman’s role in February, which is a certain possibility, it could mean good news for Arthur and Bradbourne. He made clear his desire for Pakistan to appoint foreign coaches, and publicly hounded Arthur for months before reaching a deal with him to return. He will also have the power to appoint or remove any captain or coach.

So these changes will only apply to the Australian tour?

That and the next five T20Is in New Zealand, yes. Then, as is always the case in Pakistani cricket, all bets were off.

Daniel Rasool is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent in Pakistan. @danny61000

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