PCB chief needs to be mindful of the impact his statements can have on the team captain
PCB management committee chairman, Najam Sethi, was on an interview spree this week, making appearances on TV as well as YouTube channels. He gave his views on a variety of topics, ranging from the impasse over the venue of 2023 Asia Cup to the addition of new teams in Pakistan Super League (PSL).
However, the hot button issue which grabbed the headlines was his conditional backing of Pakistan’s all-format captain, Babar Azam.
When Sethi took charge of PCB in December 2022, he appointed an interim selection committee for the New Zealand series. The committee was headed by Shahid Afridi, which also included Abdul Razzaq and Rao Iftikhar Anjum, while Haroon Rashid was the Convener.
Sethi dropped a bombshell on Sunday, when he revealed that a member of the aforementioned committee had initially suggested replacing Babar as captain. Refuting this statement, Afridi said that it wasn't him who Sethi was referring to in his interview.
To clear the air, the PCB chief took to Twitter, and revealed that he had discussed Babar’s captaincy with the interim as well as the current selection committee, headed by Haroon Rashid, as he believed the matter merited discussion.
In one of the interviews, the PCB chief also said that Babar’s future as captain depends on the results in future and decision of potential team’s consultant, Mickey Arthur. Arthur is likely to have a major role in deciding the leadership of the team going forward, as he was also consulted before Babar was assured captaincy for the upcoming New Zealand series.
“I asked Mickey, do you want one captain or two captains for New Zealand series. After consulting with him, we decided on having one captain for the white-ball format. I told him, when you will come, you can sit with Babar and then decide from there onwards,” Sethi said.
There is no doubt that Babar’s authority over the matters of the national team has significantly reduced since Sethi took charge of PCB.
During the New Zealand series earlier this year, Shan Masood was appointed vice-captain of ODI team, without consultation with either Babar or then interim chief selector, Afridi.
According to media reports, Babar also wanted to play the recently-concluded T20I series against Afghanistan, but was forcibly given rest along with Mohammad Rizwan.
The constant uncertainty around captaincy and unnecessary statements from PCB chief didn’t sit well with Babar Azam fans. They came out in support of their skipper and started running trends like #StayInYourLimitsNajamSethi and #BabarAzamIsOurRedLine on Twitter.
Sethi needs to realize that putting unnecessary pressure on a team captain can have a detrimental effect on his performance and the team's results. If he is making statements on a daily basis about Babar's captaincy, it could create a sense of instability and uncertainty within the team.
As the captain, Babar has a crucial role to play in leading the team on the field. However, if he feels that his position is constantly under scrutiny, it may affect his confidence and ability to perform at his best.
It is important for the PCB chairman to support the team captain. This includes allowing them to make decisions on team selection without undue interference or criticism. Announcing a vice-captain without consultation with the captain doesn’t help matters either.
PCB management committee can certainly hold Babar accountable for the team’s performance. However, this should be done in a constructive and supportive manner, rather than through daily statements that create unnecessary pressure.
Sethi needs to be mindful of the impact his statements can have on the team captain and the overall team dynamics.