Azhar Ali – the only ‘culprit’?

January 31, 2017 | By

The Pakistan Cricket team got trashed in Australia and not surprisingly the call for change is on everyone’s lips. Everyone wants the captain, Azhar Ali, to be sacked and replaced with an ‘aggressive’ individual. With every passing day more and more people including former cricketers and cricket experts are joining the bandwagon.

As they say, every disaster brings an opportunity along and this dismal tour down under is no different however if chopping the head of the team – I am referring to the captain – is the solution then the Pakistan team would have been on the winning track almost two decades ago.

What the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) did after the 1999 world cup loss? They shuffled players, removed the skipper – Malik Qayyum inquiry was instrumental too then – to field a new guy, but the result in the 2003 world cup was even worse followed by an inquiry to tag Waqar Younis as a failure. The same story was re-written after the early exit from the world cup in 2007 and the then skipper, Inzamam-ul-Haq was blamed.

The story writers have been reproducing the script after every jolt and this tour of Australia is followed by the same sentiments.

Not defending Azhar Ali as the one-day captain at all but I firmly believe that he was not the only reason of the defeat in Australia.

Track back and recall the day when, out of the blue, Azhar Ali was not only picked for the ODI team, after a gap of more than two years, but was appointed skipper as well. That ‘out of the box’ decision should be questioned as vigorously as the captaincy of Azhar Ali.

Azhar Ali was kept away from the ODI team, which means he was not the ODI material but the chairman of the board put his foot down to bring him back as the head of the team.

Argument is that probably Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq and former head coach Waqar Younis recommended Azhar Ali for the all important slot, but where does the buck stop?

This is not the present case but has been a long standing story, the axe always falls on the players or captain while behind the scene ‘visionaries’ escape unhurt.

Before his appointment as skipper, in March 2015, Azhar Ali had played just 14 ODIs with his last international ODI game in January 2013 but the chairman of the board, Shaharyar Khan had his logic. He said after weighing four or five recommendations he wanted to look ahead for young players.

“We wanted to build a team based on unity, spirit, fitness and discipline rather than having people with personal agendas. So I have discussed it with every stakeholder involved in the board and considering all aspects I have decided to appoint Azhar. He has the character, leadership quality, team spirit and has proved himself”, website quoted the PCB chairman as saying.

Now it seems after two years we are back to square one. The hunt for a new captain is afoot again but the basic issues have been snubbed.

The combination of the Pakistan team has not been up to the mark, especially the bowlers have failed to deliver the goods and have gone for plenty.

In the past five months – since the England tour – the team bowled first six times and four times the bowling unit went for more than 300 runs. Twice the opposing team accumulated 350+ runs while once the bowlers leaked a mammoth 400+.

Fielding has been a headache and batting has been fragile. Even the coach sounded clueless on many occasions when he said all the planning and strategies go in vein as soon as the players enter the field.

Since the problem is not new hence a quick fix – like changing captain – might not work. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) must pay attention to the ailing domestic structure where there is no certain pattern or balance whatsoever.

All in all there is not quality materiel at the top hence seeking desired results is a far cry. Therefore instead of cosmetic surgery a dissection is the need of hour.

Muhammad Asif Khan

Mohammad Asif Khan is an author at ScoreLine and has written numerous articles published at

Mohammad Asif Khan is a journalist in Pakistan with over fifteen years of experience. In 2003, He started his career as a news sub-editor and in 2004 he started his writings for local publications. He moved to PTV Sports earlier in the year 2018.

As a reported, Mr Khan has so far traveled to USA, UAE, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan to carry out his professional duties. You can connect Mr Khan on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter

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