Wasim Khan, the PCB supremo for all intents and purposes, held a press conference in Karachi yesterday. The PCB social media team, which has been supremely active in the past few months, only posted 10 minutes of it; The opening monologue of him pointing out the PCB’s achievements. The actual press conference was cut out. I wondered why.
Then they posted the complete version on Youtube. Wasim, who wears heart his on his sleeve, seemed quite unnerved by the hostile nature of it. His words said something while his face and hand gestures told an angrier story. If Wasim Khan, writes a tell-all book of his Pakistani experiences, this press conference, hosted in Karachi, is likely to get a mention. The “ethnic divide” between Lahore and Karachi might become Karachi and the rest of Pakistan.
It will boil down to one thing and one thing only. The untimely sacking of Sarfaraz Ahmed and the rather irresponsible elevation of Azhar Ali. Irrespective of whatever structural work in ongoing in the background, in terms of the National Cricket Academy, the domestic cricket and A team tours (or Shaheens as they intend to call them), the sword that will keep hanging on his and Misbah ul Haq’s head would be this impetuous call they made.
When asked repeatedly about Azhar’s performance, his retorted was he has been captain for a brief period only. No journalist were ready to point out that Azhar performances have been on the decline since 2016. When he rewarded with the captaincy, his average in the past series was 9.
What has happened subsequently, has only made it worse for all the parties involved in making that decision. In the last test on day five, Azhar Ali tried to dig in. There was no scoreboard pressure, the bowling line up was toothless, the wicket placid, a supportive crowd and the result of the game was decided. Yet Azhar struggled along for a painful 30 odd before falling. Abid Ali’s in comparison fluent hundred further put his captain under the scanner. Karachi offers Azhar an excellent chance to excel and save the group that brought him in.
When Sarfaraz was sacked, in the press conference, Misbah ul Haq stressed that the decision of captaincy rested with the Chairman. When put under pressure yesterday, Wasim Khan laid the blame on coaches’ vision. I am not sure, which one it is. But if this run continues and results don’t improve, the promise of long term backing would be as strong as Azhar Ali’s leaky defence these days.