LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani on Tuesday confirmed Sarfraz Ahmed will continue as captain of the team till the ICC World Cup 2019, which will be held in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.
Mani, who made the announcement during a joint press conference with Sarfraz at the PCB headquarters, threw his unequivocal support behind the skipper saying he will captain Pakistan in the upcoming series against Australia and till the World Cup, until any further notice.
“I am happy to confirm that Sarfraz will remain Pakistan captain till the World Cup. I’ve been saying this from day one: Sarfraz is our captain and he will remain our captain until any further decision,” the PCB chairman said.
“I was keen to speak with [Sarfraz] on the team’s recent performances as part of the normal review and appraisal process, and, more importantly, about his own future plans as we all know he has undergone some tough times as a professional cricketer in the past few weeks.
“Sarfraz has reiterated his commitment to the Pakistan cricket team as well as his availability and enthusiasm to captain the team at the World Cup,” Mani said.
Recounting Sarfraz’s achievements as captain, the PCB chief said his valuable contributions to Pakistan cricket could not be undermined or overlooked.
“Sarfraz has been an integral part of the Pakistan cricket team’s World Cup preparations and has proved to be a good strategist, leader and performer.
“He led Pakistan to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 title as well as to the top of the ICC Twenty20 International rankings. His achievements and contributions as a captain and as a valuable all-round cricketer cannot be undermined or overlooked because of the team’s recent Test results.
“I am confident he will continue the good work with Mickey Arthur and Inzamam-ul-Haq so that the team is in the best possible shape and form to produce strong performances at the World Cup,” Mani said.
Sarfraz, who was banned for four international matches by the International Cricket Council for breaching its anti-racism code during the South Africa tour, thanked the board for placing its confidence in his leadership abilities.
“I feel humbled and honoured to be placed in the same bracket as some of the most iconic and legendary cricketers who have previously captained Pakistan at World Cups. It is the dream of any international cricketer to play in a World Cup, but to be appointed captain in the biggest cricket spectacle on the planet is something that is extremely special.
“The reality is that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me as a person and professional. But I am delighted that the PCB has reassured its confidence and faith in me. It has boosted my confidence tremendously.
“I am convinced we are in a good shape for the World Cup. We have top quality talent and match-winners with a committed support staff in the dressing room. Everyone is geared up and keenly looking forward to returning to the country where we won the last major ICC tournament.
“In the lead up to the World Cup, Pakistan will play five ODIs each against Australia and England, which will also allow us the opportunity to further fine-tune our preparations. I am sure we’ll give a good account of ourselves at the World Cup,” Sarfraz said.
Sarfraz, 31, was sent back home from the ongoing tour of South Africa after the ICC ban. Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik is captaining the team on the tour, which will conclude on Wednesday with the third and final T20I at Centurion.
In a recent press conference in Karachi, Sarfraz had said that the incident involving him and South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo was exaggerated and blown out of proportion. He had reiterated that he had admitted his mistake of using a racial slur and apologised to everyone who was hurt by his unintentional comments.