ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Sethi on Monday offered conditional support to the national cricket squad's all-format captain Babar Azam, urging fans to back the skipper in the "interest of the national team."
Azam, widely regarded as one of the best batters in modern-day cricket, has increasingly come under fire over his captaincy after Pakistan's disappointing last two home seasons. Over the 2022-23 home season, Pakistan lost 3-0 against England in Tests and 4-3 in T20Is, drew 0-0 in a Test series and lost 2-1 in an ODI series against New Zealand.
However, in the shortest format of the game, Pakistan fared well under Azam's leadership. It won a tri-nation series last year in New Zealand and reached the final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 in England.
After taking over last year from his predecessor Ramiz Raja, Sethi has made sweeping changes to the cricket board's management. Local media has been rife with speculation that the PCB boss intends to strip Azam from captaincy in at least one format.
"For months media and cricketing circles have been discussing pros and cons of retaining Babar Azam as captain in all formats of the game," Sethi wrote on Twitter.
"Since this decision is ultimately Chairman's, I have sought views of Selection Committees headed by Shahid Afridi and now Haroon Rashid," he added. "Both Committees thought matter merited discussion but both later came to the conclusion that the status quo should be retained."
Sethi said his final decision in this regard would be subject to the "success or failure of status quo," adding that the selectors, head coach and director cricket operations would also help him come to a decision on whether Azam should continue as Pakistan's all-format skipper or not.
"I expect they will be in the best position to advise me. Therefore we should support Babar and not make matter controversial in interests of national team," he concluded.