‘Keep the coaches, change entire team’: Wasim Akram wants all players of Babar Azam-led Pakistan squad dropped

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By Mahtab Ahmad

Legendary cricketer Wasim Akram launched a scathing attack on Pakistan cricketers after the team’s shocking group-stage exit from the T20 World Cup. Pakistan’s hopes of advancing to the Super Eight stage of the tournament came to an end after USA and Ireland shared points due to a washout in Lauderhill. The abandonment took USA’s points to five, beyond Pakistan’s reach. The loss to the USA in their opening match was the death note for Pakistan.

Former cricketers Wasim Akram of Pakistan, right, and Navjot Singh Sidhu of India(PTI)
Former cricketers Wasim Akram of Pakistan, right, and Navjot Singh Sidhu of India(PTI)

They needed to beat India to remain the masters of their own fate, but a botched-up purchase caused them to crash into another defeat against the neighbours.

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Akram said that instead of sacking the coaches and support staff, PCB should change the entire team to achieve better results.

“Pakistani players think that if they don’t perform well, the coaches will be sacked, and nothing will happen to them,” former captain Wasim Akram said during a broadcast after the defeat to India, according to AFP. “It is time to keep the coaches and change the entire team.”

Notably, PCB had sacked the entire support staff headed by Mickey Arthur and Grant Bradburn after Pakistan failed to advance to the semi-finals of last year’s ODI World Cup. Babar Azam had also lost his captaincy in all three formats but he was surprisingly reinstated as the T20I captain, replacing Shaheen Shah Afridi at the start of this year.

Throughout the T20 World Cup, the team was dogged by allegations of internal discord and that some players were in the squad because of favouritism and not merit.

Fans and analysts also criticised the team’s management for not picking the right players for the World Cup.

Former player Kamran Akmal said Shadab Khan was chosen to play because he is close to captain Babar Azam, and that meant leaving out leg-spinner Usama Mir, the top wicket-taker in this year’s Pakistan Super League.

“When you select players based on friendship, you’ll get these results,” Akmal told AFP. “Mir should have been in the squad… That was a big injustice.”

Reports of discord over the swap also marred Pakistan’s warm-up for the World Cup. They lost to Ireland, lost 2-0 to England and drew 2-2 against a depleted New Zealand.

“Some poor administrative and selection decisions in the run-up to World Cup resulted in the team’s inability to progress,” said the English-language newspaper The News.

‘I am disgusted’

The 2024 edition marked a dramatic fall for Pakistan from the last World Cup two years ago, when they reached the final.

“I am disgusted and will not watch the World Cup any more,” said Mohammad Asim, a Pakistani fan.

“The team selection was biased and based on friendship,” said the 19-year-old university student.

And Salim, a taxi driver, said the team was “finished” after losing to a new side like the USA.

Pakistan are due to host next year’s Champions Trophy, and there are calls for a major shake-up in the team and the management.

PCB mulling salary cuts

According to a PTI report, the PCB are mulling reviewing the central contracts of all top Pakistan cricketers which may include pay cuts.

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