Pakistan’s cricket team, now buoyed with new superstars under Babar Azam’s leadership, has been enjoying a boost in confidence, although this newfound prominence has brought its own challenges. The heightened fame has increased players’ influence, even allowing them to dictate terms to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) concerning central contracts, especially with the World Cup on the horizon.
However, the recent record loss to India by 228 runs in the 2023 Asia Cup and subsequent defeat against Sri Lanka have exposed the team’s weaknesses, raising criticisms about Azam’s fielding and bowling decisions. Post-Asia Cup, rumours of a heated argument between Shaheen Afridi and Babar Azam have surfaced, although insiders claim it was merely a discussion regarding the match. This incident has spotlighted concerns about leaks from the dressing room, with investigations pointing towards Imam-ul-Haq’s involvement. The board fears these internal issues could undermine the upcoming ICC World Cup.
Moreover, disputes over the central contract appear to have impacted the players’ performances. For the betterment of cricket, it is essential to focus on the game itself, ensuring that well-performing players are appropriately rewarded.
Najam Sethi’s proposal for a hybrid model for the Asia Cup has also been problematic, leading to player exhaustion and low crowd turnout, which affects revenue and brings about additional tax complications with the Sri Lankan government. In light of these issues, skipping this year’s Asia Cup might have been a better choice. Moving forward, it is vital to foster a positive environment and resolve team issues to avoid a repeat of the Asia Cup’s setbacks during the World Cup.