Malik named captain to keep stability
Shoaib Malik will captain both Twenty20 internationals against England in Dubai later this month despite the return of regular captain Shahid Afridi because the board does not want to change leaders in the middle of tours.
Malik led Pakistan in the Melbourne Twenty20 against Australia last week, after Afridi was banned for two matches for tampering with the ball during the last ODI against Australia in Perth. That ban means Afridi will also miss the first game against England, on February 19, though he returns for the second game the following evening.
But because the tour is so short, the PCB has decided against changing the captaincy and keeping Malik in charge. There has been speculation since Afridi was caught on TV biting the ball repeatedly that his future as the format's captain is in doubt. Malik, Pakistan's captain in all three formats as recently as last year, is being talked about as a candidate again but Wasim Bari, the board's chief operating officer, played down such notions.
"It is not a good idea to have one captain in one match and another in the next," he told Cricinfo. "There is no point in doing it match to match so we decided, as it is a short tour, to just keep Malik as captain for both games. Afridi is our captain in the format. Had there not been a ban, there would not have been a problem."
Incidentally, Malik is reunited as captain with Yawar Saeed, who accompanies the side as manager once again. Exactly one year ago today Saeed was part responsible for a series report in which he wrote that Malik was a "loner" and "aloof" and that he should be replaced by Younis Khan as captain.
Of equal significance is the absence of Intikhab Alam, Pakistan's coach, from the squad and his future with the side. Most often the public face of Pakistan in defeat, Intikhab has come in for increasingly heavy criticism after the Australian tour. He is due to appear before a board inquiry committee later this week and Ijaz Ahmed, coach of the Under-19 side and who will alredy be in Dubai as head of the A side, will join the senior squad as a batting and fielding coach. Perhaps tellingly, Bari refused to be drawn over Intikhab's future.
"There is no word yet on Intikhab's future. There is an inquiry being held at the moment and subsequently it will be decided. Ijaz is not the coach but the batting and fielding coach for the side there," Bari said. "Daniel Vettori and New Zealand also toured without a coach and it has happened before so it is not so unusual."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo