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Shahid Afridi Critiques Babar Azam’s Captaincy Following Pakistan’s T20 World Cup Setback

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has voiced strong opinions about the national cricket team's dismal performance in the T20 World Cup, held jointly by the USA and West Indies. Afridi's critique centered on the leadership qualities of current captain Babar Azam, urging for significant changes both in the team and at the grassroots level.

In a recent media briefing, Afridi highlighted the crucial role of effective leadership, pointing to Indian captain Rohit Sharma's successful tenure. Sharma's aggressive and confident style has been instrumental in India's latest victory over South Africa, securing their second T20 World Cup title. Afridi contrasted this with Babar Azam's leadership, implying that the team's poor performance was a reflection of its captain's approach.

"The role of a leader is always very important. The body language of the leader becomes the body language of the team. The leader has to set an example. Take Rohit Sharma as an example. Now, look at his game and his style of playing; the lower-order batsmen who come in are all confident because the captain likes to play aggressive and attacking cricket. So, I always believe that the role of the captain is very important," Afridi commented.

Afridi, while expressing his unwavering support for Pakistan cricket, emphasized the necessity for reforms at the grassroots level. He believes that the foundation of the country's cricket system needs strengthening to produce more skilled and confident players.

"I am always available for Pakistan cricket, but at the grassroots level, there is no need for me with the Pakistan team. Whatever is needed is at the grassroots level," Afridi stated.

Reflecting on the team's overall performance, Afridi noted, "If the performance had been good, you wouldn't be asking this question. Let's see what the chairman has said about making major changes to the team. I am also waiting to see what these changes will be, and you are too. A positive decision needs to be made, and the changes shouldn't just be superficial. The real issue lies at the grassroots level of our cricket, which many cricketers often talk about. Our product is weak at the grassroots level, and if we invest there, good players will emerge. The real changes needed are at the grassroots level."

Afridi stressed the need for proper training and development for young cricketers. He acknowledged that there is talent but it requires grooming. With the evolution of cricket, developing skills has become essential. He highlighted the necessity of having coaches who can instill the right mindset at the grassroots level. Afridi questioned why players begin learning crucial aspects only upon joining the Pakistan team, suggesting that these lessons should start at the Under-19 level. This includes understanding coaching, diet, and training. He concluded by stating that the Pakistan team is meant for showcasing performance.

Addressing governance issues within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Afridi called for structural changes in the selection and administrative processes. He criticized the current system where the Prime Minister holds significant influence over cricket decisions and argued for a more independent and professional structure.

Afridi expressed that there needs to be a dedicated board for making selections. He emphasized that the Prime Minister should not be the chief executive of this board. Instead, the board should be independent, with a chairman who maintains strong relationships with other boards and arranges tours.

He further stated that the selection committee should operate without interference, including in decisions about the captaincy. According to Afridi, the committee should be robust enough to make decisions without external influence.

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