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PCB Eyes Azhar Mahmood for Assistant Coach Position

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is in the process of reshaping its coaching staff, and former all-rounder Azhar Mahmood has emerged as a strong contender for the role of assistant coach. Mahmood, who is currently serving as the bowling coach for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Islamabad United, has previously held the same role for the national side.

The PCB had recently advertised the role of assistant coach, who will provide support to both the red-ball and white-ball coaches. The advertisement specified that applicants must possess a minimum of Level 2 coaching accreditation and three years of experience with an international team, franchise, or a domestic side. The deadline for applications is 5pm on April 20.

In addition to the assistant coach role, the PCB has also finalized former South African batter Gary Kirsten and ex-Australian pacer Jason Gillespie for the roles of white-ball and red-ball head coaches, respectively. The official announcement will be made after all formalities have been completed.

This comes after a significant reshuffle in the coaching staff that took place in November 2023. The previous coaching staff, which included Mickey Arthur, Grant Bradburn, and Andrew Puttick, were transferred to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore. In April 2023, Arthur was named Director of the Pakistan men’s cricket team, Bradburn was appointed as head coach, and former South Africa cricketer Puttick took on the role of batting coach.

The PCB is gearing up for a significant change in leadership with the potential appointment of renowned figures Gary Kirsten from South Africa and Jason Gillespie from Australia as coaches for the men’s national cricket team. Kirsten is slated to take charge of the white-ball cricket, including One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), while Gillespie is expected to guide the team in red-ball cricket.

The upcoming series against New Zealand is anticipated to witness the implementation of decisions regarding local coaches, with Kirsten’s potential appointment as head coach reportedly in the final stages of negotiation, pending his availability after the Indian Premier League (IPL) commitments. Discussions are also underway regarding the integration of foreign head coaches into the team, particularly for the tours to Ireland and England, further bolstering the coaching setup.

The PCB is exploring opportunities to leverage the coaching expertise of former cricketers such as Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, and Wahab Riaz for the upcoming home series against New Zealand. The contracts of seasoned players Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul are also under review, highlighting the board’s focus on strategic planning and talent development within the national setup.

As the team gears up for a challenging series against New Zealand, Ireland, and England, followed by the ICC T20 World Cup, significant preparations are underway, including a recent two-week fitness camp at the Kakul Academy aimed at enhancing players’ physical fitness.

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