Babar Azam on Wednesday announced he is stepping down as captain of the Pakistan cricket team in all formats, four years after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appointed him to the slot.
According to a statement issued by the PCB, Shan Masood would replace Azam as Test cricket captain, while Shaheen Afridi would lead the team in the T20 format. There has been no decision on the captaincy of the one-day international format. The PCB also confirmed that it was changing its coaching staff ahead of upcoming tours of Australia and New Zealand, adding that an announcement of the new coaches would be made in due course.
Azam’s resignation comes after several months of poor performance by the national cricket team, including in the Asia Cup and the World Cup, which saw the team posting consecutive losses against teams considered significantly weaker by pundits. As the losses mounted, speculation had grown over his impending removal or resignation.
“I vividly remember the moment when I received the call from PCB to lead Pakistan in 2019,” wrote the 29-year-old in a statement announcing his decision. “Over the past four years, I’ve experienced many highs and lows on and off the field, but I wholeheartedly and passionately aimed to maintain Pakistan’s pride and respect in the cricket world,” he said.
“Reaching the number 1 spot in the white-ball format was a result of the collective efforts of players, coaches, and management but I’d like to express my gratitude to passionate Pakistan cricket fan for their unwavering support during this journey,” he continued.
“Today, I am stepping down as the captain of Pakistan in all formats. It’s a difficult decision but I feel it is a right time for this call,” he said, adding that he would continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all formats. “I am here to support the new captain and the team with my experience and dedication,” he emphasized. “I want to express my sincere thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board for entrusting me with this significant responsibility,” he added.
In an official statement, the PCB said chief Zaka Ashraf and Azam had held a “cordial meeting” to discuss various aspects of the team and its World Cup performance. “Babar was asked to continue as Test captain, while he has been relieved of captaincy in white-ball cricket for him to focus on one format,” it said, adding that Azam had consulted with his family and decided to step down as captain in all formats. “PCB respects his decision and continues to support him as a player,” it added.