Azhar Ali: Pakistan’s New ODI Captain.
Congratulations to Azhar Ali who has officially been appointed as Pakistan cricket’s new One Day International (ODI) Captain, by the PCB. He will also be Vice Captain to Misbah ul Haq in the Test team.
This is why being a Pakistan supporter is so much fun, the intrigue, drama and unpredictability. Never a boring moment.
Indeed Azhar Ali’s name has been trending in pole position on twitter worldwide.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this new appointment, which surely is the most stressful and challenging job in Pakistan.
Thirty year old Lahore born Azhar Ali is a well established Test No.3 batsmen and part time spinner. He is a patient and solid performer with a very good track record.
Test Match debut 2010.
In 39 Tests, 74 innings, he has scored a total of 2851 runs. At an average of 41.3, highest score 157. 7 centuries, 18 fifties.
One Day International debut 2011.
His last ODI was two years ago in January 2013. Only 14 matches played, total runs scored 452. Average of 41.1, highest score 96. No centuries, 4 fifties.
PCB Chairman felt Azhar Ali is the right man for the job due to his exceptional domestic form. He praised his level headed character, leadership qualities and team spirit. He emphasised unity, fitness and discipline. PCB has considered all the other options and selected Azhar, who had the backing of management and outgoing captain.
The PCB have certainly ticked several boxes with Azhar, a Captain who is well educated, clean cut image, easy to get on with, someone who isn’t going to rock the boat.
However Pakistan cricket fans across the world have expressed some concerns at the decision. Azhar Ali wasn’t even selected in the final 15 squad for the recent World Cup, he hasn’t played an ODI in 2 years. He has only played a total of 14 ODIs. Is it an evidence based decision to appoint an ODI Captain who is not even established in the national team?
Is it fair to put Azhar Ali under this extra pressure at this moment?
Or will he be able to quickly establish himself and win the respect of his peers?
There are also other examples of inconsistencies by the PCB and national selectors. Eg. Sarfraz Ahmed was not trusted to open the batting and keep wicket in the early World Cup games. Once that barrier was overcome, he produced the goods and took Pakistan to the Quarter finals. Now he has been promoted to Vice Captain of the ODI and Twenty20 teams. A very welcome change of fortunes.
Misbah ul Haq remains the Test Captain and Shahid Afridi the Twenty20 Captain.
However this is how Pakistan cricket rolls, it probably will never change. The PCB, selectors, coaches and players are often plagued with miscommunication and division.
In conclusion I hope a fresh start to the ODI team with Azhar Ali as Captain and Sarfraz Ahmed as Vice Captain will unite together a stronger team that will be able to be a dominant force on the International stage once again.
I wish them the best of luck.