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Who will be the captain?

Who will be the captain?

Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme is listed in Guinness Book of Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, and as the “most successful” science fiction series of all time. It has been recognised for its imaginative stories and creative low-budget special effects during its original run.

Perhaps the Guinness Book of Records has no idea that we have had our own unofficial longest-running show which we call “Captain Who?” produced by the PCB. The only difference is that it is not science fiction, but a reality show (though for the rest of the world the saga of the Pakistani cricket captaincy is in the realm of science fiction).

Fourteen cricketers have captained Pakistan in the last 17 years, some of them (Wasim Akram, Rashid Latif, Younis Khan), captaining more than once in their career.  Mohammad Yousuf did lead Pakistan in two Tests in 2004, but that was as vice captain when skipper Inzamam sat out these matches in Australia.

As if four captains tried in last two years has not been enough, we now have four candidates for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup, three of whom will be first-time captains if chosen. Only one of them, Salman Butt, has captained Pakistan at the Under 19 level, but all of the candidates have captained their regional sides over the last few years.

I have already stated my reasons for thinking that Abdul Razzaq is the front runner. Still, the PCB chairman has gone for a smoke screen strategy and met with the four candidates as if he has yet to decide. The idea is to get to Razzaq through this process so that it appears a well-thought out decision during which Afridi was given another hearing as well.

Whatever has been said in that closed-door meeting is not known, but one newspaper has reported that Afridi has supported Razzaq as a choice if he is not chosen himself owing to a six-month probation. Obviously, something has been said to Afridi to prompt this statement (if the newspaper story is true) to show that Razzaq is a consensus candidate.

Meanwhile, I’d like to analyse the four candidates on merit. Let’s look at their strengths and weaknesses and then readers can weigh in on who they think should be captain.

Shahid Afridi

The captain in T20 until he was brushed off for the ‘Toothgate’ scandal, he deserves the position on merit. He has the personality traits of fearlessness, motivating power, aggressiveness, energy and enthusiasm for the job. Over the last year and a half he has curbed his hara-kiri style for more selective strokeplay, considering what was once unimaginable with him—rotating the strike.

But it is the resurgence in his bowling that has propelled him as one of the most difficult bowlers to score off. Top spinners and faster deliveries are the major weapons in his armory. His fielding, especially off his own bowling, is up there with the best. He therefore has what it takes to make the ideal captain: leadership traits and current form with both bat and ball.

His weaknesses are that he is emotional, can lose control in front of media, and still plays too flamboyantly for a captain. He would be my choice for the captaincy, bite or no bite.

Abdul Razzaq

He has previous experience of captaining in the T20 format, having led the Lahore Lions to the final a couple of years back. He has the quiet resolve that can keep his focus on the game, has been bowling and batting well, and is a good finisher (but only on his day.

But he too has weaknesses. He takes omission badly, especially when justified, which shows immaturity and lack of self analysis. He has basically one boundary scoring shot that lands between, or goes over, long off and square leg. He has difficulty scoring when pitched short outside off stump at waist to shoulder height.  He is also a loner on tours, is unfit most of the time, and his teammates will not look upon him with the same respect as a leader as they have for his cricket abilities.

Salman Butt

He has captaincy potential in a long run, but only for Test matches. That said, he has to bat more consistently to be considered if merit is a factor, and not just the PCB Chairman’s whim. Butt has guts and a cheerful demeanour both on and off the field, and he’s more mature than any player in his age group. Importantly, he’s never been embroiled in any controversy of his own making. He batted solidly in the Test matches in Australia, which is always a test for any opener. Among his teammates since his debut in 2003, he remains the most composed and presentable in front of the media.

His weaknesses include constant swishing outside the off stump, lack of footwork against spinners, and irresponsible shot selection when well set. He has also been known to bat selfishly, especially in the limited over formats during which he often lets down his team at the expense of his personal glory. Moreover, Butt is still a shaky fielder and can be seen to be a lazy runner who will rarely dive.

Misbah-ul-Haq

Misbah should never have been dropped after his performance in ODIs against Australia in 2002 in Nairobi. His resurgence in 2007 proved what Pakistan had missed in the intervening years: his cool-headed batting, especially under pressure, matches Yousuf’s temperament. An orthodox batsman with reasonable technique, Misbah explodes suddenly and takes bowlers by surprise. He’s one of the safest catchers close up.

His weaknesses are to the shorter ball, but notwithstanding his form over the last year, he has tackled all bowling with prudence.

I would have opted for him as captain once Inzamam-ul-Haq retired and Younis was not interested in the captaincy. He is a great analyst of the game and has led Faisalabad and his department with success. More importantly, he stands tall among his teammates as a go-to man, boasting the steely steadfastness of a Steve Waugh.

So, in my opinion, if Afridi is not selected as captain, the post should go to Misbah. What do you think, people?

sohaib80 Sohaib Alvi has been a cricket writer since 1979, and has edited The Cricketer International (UK) Asian Edition. He also has 25 years’ top management experience and now works as a strategic and marketing consultant.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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152 Responses to “Who will be the captain?”

  1. Rija Zaidi says:

    I firmly believe my father can be a very good choice. He is well educated (rarity in Pak team), speaks good English (our players usually speak Punjabi), understands cricket very well (our players only understand how to create division and spoil team spirit) and above all, plays good cricket (at least better than Salman Butt).

    So why not my father ????

    • Salim says:

      I agree with you. Afridi can be the captain as he can bite cricket ball like apple.

  2. vijay, chennai, India says:

    Afridi of Razaq is not the question but who ever becomes the captain will he be able to unite the players? Or simply will allow the players to form groups?

  3. Michael says:

    When picking a captain, the first criteria should be ‘do they warrant a place in the team on ability/performance alone?’. In other words, pick your team, and then choose the captain from the players you’ve picked.
    There’s no reason why you can’t have someone captaining a side who doesn’t make it into the team of another format – Johan Botha of South Africa captained the ODI team for a while and he doesn’t play Tests; Ricky Ponting retired from Twenty20 and still captains Australia in ODIs and Tests.
    So, having decided that the potential captain warrants a place in the team on ability/performance, I think it’s irrelevant to bring in other factors like how far they hit the ball, how aggressive they bat, etc because you’ve already decided they warrant a place in the team.
    Now, I don’t believe that Butt warrants a place in the Twenty20 side. I also don’t believe he has yet been consistent enough at Test level to be assured a place. So I would rule him out of contention for captaincy for either of those (though I might have him in my Test side if there are no better openers around).
    Misbah, also, I would not have in the Twenty20 side. I have noticed that his arrival at the crease often (but not always) results in a loss of momentum, as his batting of late has been quite scratchy when he gets going. Assuming he can find some form, I have no problem with him being in Test matches.
    Afridi has a good Test record but hasn’t been playing recently and has retired a number of times. He has had some good performances in the shorter formats, and certainly deserves his place there.
    Rassak has a decent record in all formats, though like any player his form has gone up and down through his career. I think he was missed on the tour of NZ and Australia and can provide some balance to the side, though his bowling has lacked a bit of penetration of late.
    So, based on this the candidates I would suggest are: Test – Misbah or Rassak, ODI/T20 – Afridi or Rassak.
    Of those candidates, I’d be looking at the ability to think strategically (rather than be an ‘inspirational’ captain – Flintoff showed in the Ashes series of 2006-07 how well that goes). I also would have serious doubts about appointing anyone who is under probation for bad behaviour – as that is certainly not the example you want to set for your side.

  4. Faheem says:

    Captaincy should go to a player who can firstly, hold his place in the team, possess leadership qualities and be blessed with experience of the game. In the present scenario, Afridi seems to be the only one to fit the bill, ball biting notwithstanding. Salman and Misbah are too junior and lack the wherewithal, Razzaq has been too much in and out of the team to command the understanding and respect of teamates. So in my opinion we have no choice but Afridi and he should be backed to the hilt.

  5. Hasan Kham says:

    Dear Sohaib, I cannot disagree that Afridi should be the captain for all the points you have mentioned. I think it is critical to perform as a captain, only than one can exert his thinking on the ground. Apart from Afridi during the past 1 year so , no one has performed on a level where he should be considered as captain. Making Salman Captain at this point will be like , having Mohsin Khan open against the greats of West Indies. We will destroy his already fragile batting. Razzak does not seems to have the metal to lead on, although he must be part of every Pakistani team.

    Afridi you a bold choice when he was made captain, and he delivered. I don’t think we should change him. Of course with Arfidi comes emotions, ball biting, pitch scrubbing and every thing. But today we are desperate , and once needs either desperation or inspiration, which is so hard to come by, hence we are more likely to succeed in our desperation.

    Good Luck to our team

    Pakistan Zaindabad.

  6. ram lakhani says:

    If you wish to throw out any Player make him captain( as if he is responsible for all doings,good or bad at one match even.

    Why not Select a Captain as 12th man!!! He will be out of team and guide from outside without Emotion.
    Imran khan to be the Best!!!

  7. Aqeel says:

    Mr. Sohaib Alvi. As usual you have produced another good analytical article. And I fully agree with you and some of your readers, and may Allah put some sense in these new generation of cricketers, and they start playing “CRICKET” again and for the sake of country and cricket itself. Having said that, I personally feel, as an old lover of cricket, that there is lots of confusion now days regarding the capabilities of modern day players, though I still believe they are “World beaters” if they decide to play as one unit. I don’t know of these players, But in my time, There was Hafeez Kardar, as captain, followed by Fazal Mahmood, Imtiaz Ahmed, Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Ahmed——— it was smooth sailing during this time, and Mr Ijaz Butt was one of the team member, as a batsman and wicketkeeper,in the absence of Imtiaz. Now I dont know Why he cannot manage,havivg the experience of playing with such great cricket players and team managers. {Now Take it as a joke. my suggestion is, In the present cirumstances, which is going around for last so many years, causing all the confusion,and bad name, that IJAZ BUTT,Chairman PCP, be made “NON-PLAYING Captain, or as “Captain-Wicketkeeper”and tour with the team. and improve the standard, I am sure some infighting will end, and problem of finding a Captain for the team will also be solved for sometime, his age permitting, All he has to do is keep the wickets,control the team, as far as catches and stumping is concerned, they are not done most of the time anyway, so it does not matter if he misses some! I am sure with him accepting the “captaincy” he will do another great service to Pakistan Cricket.) What think thou!!!!!!

  8. rahul, india says:

    hi guys,
    i have been reading all the comments here and i must say i feel sorry for the state of affairs in this moment. pakistan cricket lovers deserve better from their national team. it is a shame that there is a problem of selecting the captain in a country rich in talent like pakistan. over the years, pakistan has played the most exciting cricket. but it is very inconsistent. i think everything should be started from scrap and new face should be given a chance. the above mentioned players have never played to their potential.
    i have read people’s comments that shahid afridi should be elected as the captain. have they forgotten how many times the team needed him and he did not perform? the other players dont even deserve the place in the team. there are many players out there who are better performers and should get their due.

    thanks for reading……
    cricket lover

  9. Wasit says:

    Pakistan needs a thorough and not piecemeal clean out of the sports mess. Let us look for a totally new face for the position of a captain and not at the same players that have brought such shame on Pakistan.

  10. Saad Usmani says:

    Shahid Afridi is the best choice for captincy. A very well written & analyzed article as mentioned in the article “Shahid Afridi” has the personality traits of fearlessness, motivating power, aggressiveness, energy and enthusiasm for the job. He deserves the captincy of PAKISTAN Team. My vote is for Shahid Afridi…..

  11. obaid says:

    AA:

    It seems we are trying to achieve all at once. Truth of the matter is that cricket controlling body consists of outdated management, most of them well below average cricketers of their time. The management goes in circles and has not been able to perform well. Players are blamed for all the failures. There is too much interference from political corridor as well. Players find little time to concentrate on their practice and performance. We definitely need a revival in international cricket, as well as in domestic cricket.
    Best thing would be to prepare good practicing and match facilities for domestic players and incentives for well performing players. This way we can produce good players in the long run. Hopefully, India will lose to Afghanistan in its first match and Pakistan to Bangladesh, and finally meet in the final…of another 20-20.

  12. Nagesh Pai says:

    Afridi. He is sensational and extremely talented. I guess somebody needs to sit with him and give the same support as Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni got in India…..I am sure if PCB shows confidence on him and mentor him he can be one of the greatest Captain and Player Pakistan ever had….He is fearless, innovative, enthusiastic and aggressive and all the time plays for winning only…..I wish he is chosen as the captain….I am a big fan of him; though I am an Indian and hate him when he smothers the Indian bowlers :) ; but I guess he has it in him to take the team along with him….Also it is high time that Pakistan drop all the seniors from their team and bring in the new faces; in all the formats. Afridi can be a good captain in all the formats of Cricket…..

  13. Murtaza says:

    Fawad Alam is the future of Pakistan Cricket. PCB needs to be gutsy and make Fawad captain in all forms of the game.

  14. Junaid says:

    Razzaq for 20/20 & Salman for One days and Test.

    • Rafay says:

      How can salman butt control younis, yousaf and malik. We know there going to be back soon. Paki players have huge egos and you need men with better experience to captain them.
      Shahid Afridi is are seasoned veteran. Hes played 293 matches. With the greats like the two Ws. Opened along with Saeed Anwar. He is the most experienced player on the squad with a fearless and competitive mind. He knows that he cant win a match alone. Unlike Salman Butt whos a lazy runner and selfish. Hence Salman Butt isnt even an option. Personally.

      • Michael says:

        Yousuf won’t be back. Why would he want to come back after the way he’s been treated? He’s so close to retirement anyway that with a year out of the game he’ll just call time.
        Younus also won’t come back. He clearly didn’t want to play for Pakistan after his leadership was sabotaged, as he saw what a toxic environment it is.

  15. Adnan says:

    Afridi is the only choice. He did a mistake by biting a ball but he apologized to the nation. There are some people in this world who killed millions of innocent people (directly or indirectly) and then argue it was justifiable. I wish everyone live peacefully in this world.

  16. Shehzad says:

    1. Butt is a dud…….. I don’t know why he is even in the team in any form of cricket and specially T20 and now we are considering him to lead the team…. boy he must have some good connections. Probably only reason he in the team is his last name same as chairman Ijaz Butt.

    2. Afridi is good but he bites the ball, who knows next time he will bite the umpire… what then?

    3. Mishbah…. would have been a good candidate if he was performing… in current situation he doesn’t even deserve a spot in the team…. so captaincy.

    4. Razzaq seems like the best option for now. He is a talented cricketer, one of the senior most player in the team, consistent performer, and carried himself well. Will little help from others he can represent the team well.

    But then Pakistan had never selected the expected ones to lead the team anyways. This current situation and ban on players was only to a show to take the lime light away from chairman of the board. Let see if logic prevails.

  17. farhan says:

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm to me i think that afridi is the best option .

  18. Adeel Chaudary says:

    There should be no debate Afridi should be made captain. The reason is that he has performed well in all departments including fielding, batting and bowling for last couple of years. We need a captain who can perform in all departments of the game and I think Afridi is a right man for this job.

  19. Mahendra Singh says:

    Misbah seems to be good choice. He is gutsy, captain has to be cool and so is he. he could build a good Pakistani team for future.

  20. Rajat says:

    I think Pakistan should opt for a rotation policy here.. new captain for every match.. every player is aware that he will be captain twice in a year.. so there will be no in fighting in the team.. and this will give the team much needed team spirit :)

    • Rajat, you have just posted one of the finest view i have ever gone through so far. Yes this option can be adopted as well. That there should be rotation policy, may be for two matches may be for one matches as well. but PCB is not a very thoughtful department. They still stick with the old school of thoughts.

      Talking about Afiridi, Salman Butt, Razzaq and Misbah ul Haq, i think Misbah Has played his part, now its time for him to just play at his best on his batting because his career is about to end.

      Razzaq, has been too much in and out by the PCB and PCB also treated him badly. The All rounder of his calibre cannot be treated, as Razzaq had been treated. Despite of bad run in past career, he is still managing to belt the innings which carrys all the class and also been able to finish the game in style in favor of Pakistan. SO he is hot candidate for Captancy.

      Now talking about Salman Butt, he is doing good with the bat in recent past, but considerign bad performance in past, we cannot help him out in T20 games. His batting does not has the spark, which T20 requirs from the batsman. More over he is still very slugish while running between wicket and shows that he is a bit selfish for his own wicket. so cannot be opted for the Captan.

      Now for the Afiridi, for T20 and ODI, Afiridi has better chance than salman Butt and Misbah. Because, his All round performance in Fielding, Bowling and Batting is much improved from last 3 years. He has been scoring crusual runs, taking wickets have good time in field taking important catches and run out, what else we need. Yes for the Test arena, Afiridi touch short, as he has kept himself out from test circle for a very long time…..

      in Short, we should opt Afridi or Razzaq for T20 and ODI matches. and for the Test Matches we should have Salman butt as captan

  21. Mo says:

    AFRIDI for sure!

    just think about it, whenever he comes out to bowl or bat or does something on the field, there is an uncomfortable feeling in the opposition……. NOW imagine the whole team’s attitude working with him

    as someone said. he has a “mojo” effect, which NO ONE can deny

    There are a number of examples of his individual excellence that lifted the spirits of the team as a whole. I hope everyone remembers the catch he took running towards the boundary against NZ in the T20 semifinal … for me that was one of the turning points of the game.

    I have nothing negative to say about the other three. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes to CHOOSE THE BEST OPTION ……. I do not see why AFIRDI cannot lead the team.

  22. Fahad says:

    Why are Misbah and Butt even being debated !? They can not even hold their spot in the team. Why does presentablity in front of the media even be a factor. Just get a media liason officer instead. Razzaq would also not make it to the team at all times. His batting is inconsistent and he is not a frontline bowler. Afridi is the only option. He makes it to the team purely as a bowler (after Gul he has been Pakistan’s best bowler in T20s). And his batting can win you matches (even if only occassionally) as well.

  23. Fahad says:

    You need someone who can make it to the team even if he weren’t the captain. That immediately rules Misbah out, who has been extremely inconsistent over the past couple of years. Same with Salman Butt. I would go for Afridi.

  24. Saeed Nizamani says:

    For God’s sake please pick someone else…Pakistan is full of talent :(

  25. Qasim says:

    As Afridi has not been banned for six months/1 year as he should have been and is actually available for selection, given the current set of players, he is a natural selection as captain for T20I and ODIs. I guess its a “mojo” thing than anything else. There is a buzz about him whereas all the rest are lethargic and the “trickle down effect” they would have on the team would be Yousufesque.

    There is a tendency to forget that Afridi is primarily a bowler who is doing pretty well at the a.m. formats atleast and his batting is a bonus on top of that not to mention one of the better fielders too. We can cuss and curse him all we want for throwing his wicket away but in our heart of hearts, we all want him to hit that ball out of the park.

    Somebody has summed up Misbah ul Haq very well. His technique has many flaws. The way he dries up runs makes you want to wish he was bowling and not batting. He should not be in the side in the first place and definitely should not be made captain. He wouldn’t command the respect of the players as well.

    Salman Butt was a big prospect a few years ago but he still hasn’t ironed out his running, fielding and the outside off waft. No place in T20I atleast.

    Abdur Razzak is a good player and a distant second choice behind Afridi.

    I’ll bet the PCB think tank would be busy thinking up ways to trump all that has happened in Pakistan Cricket (mind you they are very capable of doing it) and end up making Kamran Akmal the captain in all three formats.

  26. Fatima Nasir says:

    In my point of view, you are completely right to vote Misbah, he deserves it! He is calm, cool headed and plays sensibly.
    Afridi is pretty good but he gets nervous pretty easy. I think he’ll perform better without captaincy hanging above his head like a sword to worry him. Make him vice captain, Misbah the captain, and see where it goes!

  27. Sajjad M. Afzal says:

    Its better that we get a person who has courage, good team leader and a good motivator…. so Shahid Afridi will be a good choice.

  28. Shehzad Valliani says:

    A senior player of Afridi’s calibre should not have made the foolish mistake of biting the ball during the last ODI in Australia. This indicates the lack of maturity and temperament on part of Afridi. On the contrary, Misbah seems to have the perseverance / maturity to steer Pakistan’s team out of this crisis and should be entrusted with this task.

  29. Wajahat Ali Gilgit says:

    It’s high time to impart team captaincy to a player, who is coolheaded yet his approach is offensive. Therefore my vote goes for Razzaq, who is such a down-to-earth person, a fine player in all aspects of the game, who I believe is far away from grouping and politics and his style of game and his attitude makes him acceptable to all players/ groups within the team. He speaks and acts to the point, no showoff and he has capability to win matches individually as well escort a match wining team. Knowing all this, what PCB is waiting for!

  30. A. Samad says:

    Well….. Agree to most of the above points highlighted by Mr. Alvi but I do not think that Razzaq is not batsman & the potential batsman as well as captaincy candidate. ONE person can lead the team in all formats is difficult to find in current scenario, but still the primary candidate should Razzaq and secondary Misbah. Razzak is a match winner in all 3 cricketing formats.

    Afridi is as good as his LAST game, very unpredictable and at times vulnerable. Though, we have great regard for him as an allrounder. He has not been playing test matches therefore can not lead the team in the most difficult format.

    Butt can not play T20 well enough to be a captain, secondly it would like one BUTT is favoring another BUTT & so on…

    Whoever becomes the skipper, board should now choose youngster to train as another potential candidate as future captain. WHO knows what’s gonna happen in Pakistan cricket in the near future.

    All the best to our team and fans!
    Cheers.


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