Karachi: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has made it clear that ousted captain Sarfaraz Ahmed will remain in category A of the central contracts given to players as he is available for selection in all three formats of the game.
Dismissing rumors that the board had decided to relegate Sarfaraz to a lower category, a PCB spokesperson said Sarfaraz would retain his top category in the central contracts which run till July next year.
"There will be no change in his central contract as he is available for selection in all three formats," the spokesperson said.
Babar Azam, Pakistan's new T20 captain, and leg-spinner, Yasir Shah are the two other players in category A of the contracts.
The board has also issued an apology for a faux pas it committed just at the time it was announced that Sarfaraz had been removed as captain from all three formats.
The board's digital media team had uploaded a short video on its official page, in which a few players were found celebrating as a team official waved to Sarfaraz to walk off.
The board said it had beforehand decided to release the video as part of its build-up to the World T20 but unfortunately at the same time the news about the change in captaincy also came.
The release of the video and change in captaincy upset many cricket followers especially the supporters of Sarfaraz, who took it as an insult to the former skipper.
Former Pakistan captain weigh in on Sarfaraz's removal from captaincy
Most of the former captains and players termed the removal of Sarfaraz as unjust. Not surprisingly the head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis were also targeted and blamed for engineering the ouster of Sarfaraz.
Sarafarz has been replaced as Test captain by Azhar Ali while Babar Azam will take over in T20s. A decision on the one-day captaincy will be finalised in due course.
The wicketkeeper-batsman is also unlikely to be part of the touring Pakistan T20 or Test squad to Australia later this month.
Batting great Javed Miandad said since Sarfaraz had gained considerable experience as a captain in the last two years, he should have been given time to regain his form instead of just sacking him.
"Azhar's appointment as Test captain is okay but if the Board wanted to appoint Babar as white-ball captain, they should have first groomed him as I fear the burden of T20 captaincy will affect his batting," Miandad said.
Former Test batsman and ex-head coach and chief selector Mohsin Khan said, "He (Sarfaraz) took Pakistan to number one in T20 cricket and he is a fighter. This is a decision taken in haste and it could also affect the career of Babar."
Former captain Rashid Latif minced no words in stating that the Board had erred by making Babar captain of the T20 side.
"He is a selfish player and we have seen this in international cricket and now in the national T20 championship. Sarfaraz is not a selfish captain and sacrificed his position many times for the team. He did not deserve this treatment," he said.
Former skipper Moin Khan said he was shocked at the way the Board had treated Sarfaraz.
"He (Sarfaraz) has shown himself to be a fine captain and yes he was struggling a bit for form but when a senior player is under pressure you have to encourage and back him, not dump him like this," Moin said.
He noted that Misbah and Waqar had never been fond of Sarfaraz and with them in charge, this sacking was expected.
Former Test pacer Aaqib Javed also criticised the Board for taking a strange decision.
"I don't know from where these decisions are coming but they make no sense at all to me. Sarfaraz should have been relieved as Test captain but the Board should have given him some time as captain of white-ball cricket."
Another former captain Ramiz Raja, however, felt that the Board had taken a brave decision to appoint Babar Azam as T20 captain and said people defending Sarfaraz should accept his poor form in recent months as skipper.
"We were struggling in Test cricket, we did not reach semifinals of the World Cup. We lost to a Sri Lankan 'B' team in T20 cricket and his own form is on a decline. I think the Board acted properly by investing in a young player in the white-ball formats. If Babar develops into a good leader he can also become Test captain," he said.
Former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said Sarfaraz only had himself to blame for his ouster.
"I have been saying for a while now that he needs to be a brave captain and player. He has not been physically fit and he lacked leadership qualities," Akhtar said.
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