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News

Shaheen on returning captain Babar: 'I have nothing but respect for him'

Babar, meanwhile, says he "will continue consulting" Shaheen "for important decisions going forward"

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
31-Mar-2024
'We are all one. Our aim is the same, to help Pakistan become the best team in the world' - Shaheen Shah Afridi  •  AFP/Getty Images

'We are all one. Our aim is the same, to help Pakistan become the best team in the world' - Shaheen Shah Afridi  •  AFP/Getty Images

Newly deposed Pakistan captain Shaheen Shah Afridi has called it "an honour" to have led the Pakistan national team on the day it was announced he had been replaced by his predecessor Babar Azam. He called it "my duty to back Babar Azam", stating that both had the same aims.
After a public process in which PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi repeatedly declined to back Shaheen, the PCB formally confirmed that the fast bowler's one-series stint as T20I captain had come to a close, announcing Babar as T20I and ODI captain once more. With relationships within the team inevitably coming under strain, the PCB has put out a press release with Shaheen and Babar sending out statements of support for each other in a bid to put the whole saga behind them.
"I will always cherish the memories and the opportunity," Afridi said. "As a team player, it is my duty to back our captain, Babar Azam. I have played under his captaincy and have nothing but respect for him. I will try to help him on and off the field. We are all one. Our aim is the same, to help Pakistan become the best team in the world."
Babar called it "a pleasure" to play under Shaheen in that solitary New Zealand series. "He is still young and is improving as a player and as a leader every day," Babar said. "As a captain, I have always valued his input and I will keep consulting him for important decisions going forward. We must take advantage of his strategic understanding of the game."
While the decision is difficult to read as anything other than a swift loss of faith in Shaheen's leadership capabilities, the PCB attributed the captaincy U-turn to workload management. "While Shaheen Afridi has undeniably proven himself as a star fast bowler, leading Pakistan's pace attack over the years, the board recognises the importance of rotation and rest to maintain his peak performance. This decision aligns with board's commitment to safeguarding the longevity of the players, especially fast bowlers given their injury timelines in the past two years."
Saying Babar's captaincy record spoke for itself, the PCB thanked Afridi for his contributions as captain, stating he would be part of "the leadership group" moving forward.

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000