With his performance already on a low — with the bat specifically – Sarfraz is quickly falling out of favor with the fans, players and experts. He might still have a number of fans defending him as under him Pakistan went on to lift the ICC Champions Trophy but it has been a good six months since then.
Australia traveled to UAE with an inexperienced Test side and knowing they have lost 12 of their last 15 Test matches in Asia. This, without a doubt, was reason enough for Pakistan to be fired up but that wasn’t to be as the match came down to the last over when it shouldn’t have.
Seeing Australians celebrate in the dugout after ensuring only a draw was perhaps a clear indication that Pakistan should definitely have won the game. This, however, should not undermine Usman Khawaja’s efforts who played one of the best 4th-innings batting efforts in Australia’s Test history. Following his departure, Tim Paine also made a remarkable effort to sustain all the pressure which followed next to close the game.
Pakistan’s Accidental Success Under Sarfraz
It may seem rather strange to term all the success under Sarfraz as accidental but, that is probably the only way to explain things.
Unexpected breakthroughs from the likes of Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Abbas etc, all played a huge role in solidifying Sarfraz’s stance as a captain. However, with time, it has become apparent that he is unfit to lead from the front. Missed stumpings, shocking reviews, bad field placements and no clear game plan from Sarfraz all contributed towards Australia snatching the win away from the Greens.
If you are going to argue on basis of stats and numbers then, of course, Sarfraz is a better than Imran Khan. But in reality, is that so? Far from it. You have to take significant wins into account; outperforming the likes of Zimbabwe and Scotland and registering a series win against them is not as significant as leading your team to a World Cup and actually winning it.
Misbah-ul-Haq — considered to be a great Pakistani captain in Test cricket — only managed a 46% win-rate in the longest format of the game. However, what this stat doesn’t show is how Pakistan managed to reach the no. 1 position in ICC Test match rankings for the first time. However, some might argue that victory was on the back of a long home season in the UAE and a comparatively easier away season before that.
So it is clear to see why relying only on statistics to form an opinion is not the most ideal approach.
Here’s Why Sarfraz Shouldn’t Lead Pakistan to 2019 World Cup
ICC World Cups are perhaps the most prestigious events in the world of cricket and if you glance over all the winning teams in recent years, you will notice that having a strong leader is absolutely crucial.
To give you a slight comparison, here is a list of all the World Cup winning captains:
|1975 and 1979||West Indies||Clive Lloyd|
|1996||Sri Lanka||Arjuna Ranatunga|
|2003 & 2007||Australia||Ricky Ponting|
Remaining neutral, it is evident that Sarfraz cannot possibly be compared to the names mentioned above because the difference in quality is immense. So why exactly is Pakistan not looking at other options?
Here’s a comparison of Sarfraz’s performances before and after he became the captain of the national team in limited overs cricket:
|As a Player||52||1498||105||34.83||6/2|
|As a Captain||18||318||61*||26.50||2/1|
This may not raise alarm bells for others but when you look at his performances in Test matches, you may be a little more cautious. In 2018, Sarfraz averages 12.33 with the highest of 20 runs in Test matches. Prior to that, since September of 2017 till becoming Test captain, Sarfraz averaged 19.30 with just 1 half century to his name. His performances continue to drop which is why Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should start considering other options.
Poor performances with bat and behind the stumps coupled with a genuine lack of ability and authority, these are enough reasons why Sarfraz should not be the one leading the Pakistani side in the upcoming World Cup.
Who, If Not Sarfraz?
This is probably a million dollar question which PCB need to get right. So who is the ideal candidate? Well, the ideal candidate would, of course, be someone who is young and has fulfilled the duties of being a captain at the domestic level for a significant time period. However, there is no one who is capable of doing that.
Babar Azam, is the best shout but since he is the main batsman in the Pakistani line-up, it is better if PCB does not put extra pressure on him in the most crucial of tournaments.
So, who else? Well, despite showing interest in retirement after the World Cup, Pakistan should consider entrusting the responsibility of leading the side to Shoaib Malik.
Malik may not the be most popular of choices but he’s certainly the most capable out of the bunch. He has tons of experience as a player and as a captain and on top of that, he thrives under pressure. His recent performances are a concrete proof that he is still able and fit to perform for Pakistan. However, his previous stint as a captain turned out to be controversial as many senior players fell out with him. If those issues can be managed, then he is probably the right choice.