Babar Azam steps down from Pakistan captaincy in all forms following Cricket World Cup debacle

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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has sacked Babar Azam as their white-ball captain following their elimination from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.

Azam announced on Wednesday he had stepped down from the role across formats, but the PCB later confirmed the player had been relieved of the white-ball captaincy. While Pakistan’s national board wanted him to stay on as Test captain, Azam decided to step down after a thorough discussion with his family.

The former captain informed his decision to PCB after meeting them in person in Lahore on Wednesday.

“Today I am stepping down as the captain of Pakistan in all formats. It’s a difficult decision but I feel it is the right time for this call,” Babar wrote on the social media platform X/Twitter.

“I will continue to represent Pakistan as a player in all three formats. I am here to support the new captain and the team with my experience and dedication. I want to express my sincere thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board for entrusting me with this significant responsibility.”

Pakistan have named batter Shan Masood as their new Test captain, while fast bowler Shaheen Afridi will lead the T20I side. The PCB is yet to announce their new ODI skipper.

Azam took over Pakistan’s Test captaincy in 2021, while he first led in the ODIs in 2020 and in T20Is in 2019.

“It is a difficult decision, but I feel it is the right time. I vividly remember the moment I received the call to lead Pakistan. Over the past four years, I’ve experienced many highs and lows, on and off the field, but I wholeheartedly and passionately aimed to maintain Pakistan’s pride and respect in the cricket world,” added Azam, who also assured that he would continue to represent his country as a player in all three formats.

The PCB has removed the entire coaching staff of the men’s team, including team director Mickey Arthur. Pakistan’s former captain and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has been appointed as director.

The national board has also changed the portfolio of the Pakistan coaching staff. All coaches will continue to work in the National Cricket Academy while the PCB will announce the new coaching staff in due course for the upcoming series in Australia and New Zealand, which begins in December, the PCB announced on X.

Azam-led Pakistan finished fifth in the World Cup 2023 group stage, winning four and losing five of their nine games and failing to qualify for the semi-finals. Among their biggest defeats at this World Cup is a seven-wicket loss to India, where Pakistan were bowled out for a mere 199 and an eight-wicket thrashing at the hands of Afghanistan, who chased down the target of 283 with utmost ease.

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