Babar on the brink: Can he survive major shake-up after World Cup setback?

Babar on the brink: Can he survive major shake-up after World Cup setback?


Babar should take a leaf out of Williamson’s book

Follow on
Follow us on Google News

By Anees-ur-Rehman 

Under fire for Pakistan's early exit from the T20 World Cup 2024, captain Babar Azam is at the centre of a heated debate about his future leadership role. For the first time since the inaugural World Cup in 2007, the Green Shirts, under Babar's captaincy, failed to progress to the Super 8 stage. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has already announced undertaking a “major surgery” following the national team’s disappointing performance at the global event. 

Players like Iftikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Shadab Khan, Saim Ayub, and Usman Khan might lose their spots. New players from domestic cricket will get a chance. 

Captain Babar Azam will have to explain the poor performance, and big changes in the team management are expected. Senior manager and selector Wahab Riaz might lose his job. 

Babar addresses the captaincy debate 

Speaking to the media after a narrow win against Ireland, Babar Azam addressed the swirling rumours about relinquishing his captaincy and provided insights into Pakistan's performance during the tournament. 

“When I stepped down from captaincy before, it was a decision I made and announced myself. The PCB’s decision to reinstate me was theirs to make. Now, we’ll return and evaluate what happened here. If I decide to step down again, I will inform everyone. For now, I haven’t considered it, and the final decision lies with the PCB,” Babar stated. 

Babar reflects on team performance 

Reflecting on the team’s overall performance, he added, “We failed collectively, not because of any single individual. Every player has a role, and that’s why they’re here. I accept that we didn’t perform well together.” 

Return of Amir, Imad 

Amid this turbulent period, Babar acknowledged the significant contributions of Imad Wasim and Mohammad Amir, who returned from retirement for the World Cup. “Their performances were commendable. Imad’s spin bowling and Amir’s effectiveness with the new and old ball were crucial. They utilised their experience well, reading conditions and executing plans. Despite our setbacks, our bowling unit performed admirably, often restricting teams to low scores.” 

Batting mindset 

Responding to calls for a shift in batting strategy, Babar stressed the need for adaptability: “Mindset is important, but you can’t just aim to hit every ball for six or take a wicket with every delivery. Conditions were tough for all batters in this tournament. Success requires assessing the situation, taking the game deep, and building innings. Maintaining a high strike rate without wickets in hand only adds pressure.” 

As Babar Azam faces scrutiny and possible changes, he highlights the tough challenges of leadership and the need for smart strategies in competitive cricket. 

Babar should take a leaf from Williamson’s book 

Babar Azam should take a lesson from New Zealand captain Kane Williamson who resigned after his team failed to qualify for the Super 8 round in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024. 

Cricket fans are praising Williamson’s resignation as an honourable move following the team's unexpected exit from the tournament. 

The principle is simple: when you fail, you take responsibility. Williamson could have defended himself and his team but he opted for a decent way to step down honourably. 

Gary Kirsten exposes team performance 

On the other side, Pakistan head coach Gary Kirsten came down hard on the players, saying “To compete on a global level, we must enhance our fitness, skills, and unity. Only those players who show improvement in these areas will remain in the team; otherwise, they will not be part of it.” 

Kirsten said, “Since my arrival, I have observed a lack of cohesion in this team. Although it is labelled a team, it does not operate as one. No player supports another; everyone is isolated. I have worked with numerous teams but have never seen such a situation.” 

After Kirsten’s charge-sheet, will Babar Azam be able to retain his captaincy which received flak in the last two world cups? Time will tell. 

Speculation is rife that the elegant right-hander might retain his captaincy, despite anticipated changes in the squad that faced this World Cup setback.