Pakistan's team management for the upcoming contests against New Zealand underwent significant changes today, a further indication that Younis Khan's return to captaincy earlier this week came with strings attached, one of which was a change in management.
Abdur Raqib, a veteran cricket administrator, and Asad Mustafa, a long-serving PCB official, replaced Yawar Saeed and Shafqat Rana as manager and assistant manager respectively, the board announced in a press release. Raqib, long-serving head of the sports department at Habib Bank (HBL) and a former first-class cricketer who almost played for Pakistan in the 70s as a left-arm spinner, is believed to be close to Younis, who is himself employed by the bank.
Intikhab Alam retains his post as coach, though he will now be assisted once again by Aaqib Javed, who was dropped from the position for the Champions Trophy but had been with the squad since Alam took over last year.
One of the factors that led Younis to his resignation was thought to be his unhappiness with Saeed and Rana, heightened further after some public comments Rana made upon his arrival from South Africa following the Champions Trophy. It was believed to be one of the points he raised in a meeting with Ijaz Butt, chairman of the PCB, when they were discussing his resignation last week.
Saeed was in any case nearing the end of his stint; he had initially planned to leave management after the Champions Trophy, but was asked to stay on for the New Zealand tour by Butt, until the Younis issue took over.
Raqib's role will be important as there are a number of HBL cricketers in the squad, including Shahid Afridi, who, it was speculated, was one of the players unhappy with Younis's captaincy. A clear sign of just how significant Raqib may be emerged today, as he mediated a clear-the-air meeting between Afridi and Younis.
After the meeting Afridi said he and Younis had sorted out any issues between them. "There were a few misunderstandings but Younis and I talked them out, after all we both want to do our best for the country", Afridi told News One TV.