Should Hafeez become captain of Pakistan?
Pakistan's ODI form has become a renewed area of concern for the team management. The World Cup is around the corner and the team's performance in the recently concluded Asia Cup indicates that instead of progressing, the team is alarmingly regressing into mediocrity.
To fix its woes, Pakistan has to first re-assess the competency and compatibility of the current captain- Sarfraz Ahmed. Sarfraz is continuing to struggle with his batting form and it's not outlandish to suggest that he would have been dropped from the team had he not been captain.
Understandably, the team management doesn't want to make knee-jerk moves that could disrupt the team's preparation for next year's World Cup. Supporters of Sarfraz as captain have suggested that he is the best option that Pakistan have and that he should be persisted with. They point to the fact that Sarfraz has been a successful captain in ICC tournaments and suggest that he deserves credit for the team's success in the Champions Trophy in 2017.
But that argument is a flawed one. To continue with a captain who's clearly lost the confidence of the team as a result of his uninspiring performance as a leader and an unremarkable record as batsman is akin to driving blindfolded in a sand storm. The fact is that Pakistan has a viable and a better option than Sarfraz in Mohammad Hafeez. They should move to make that change as soon as possible.
Here are three invaluable attributes that make Hafeez an ideal candidate for captain of Pakistan.
One of Hafeez's biggest strengths is his temperament. He is mature, calm, level-headed, intelligent and unemotional. In fact, his teammates have affectionately named him "The Professor". Over the years he has been the consummate team player and has displayed a calm demeanor under duress on several occasions when his team has needed him to get them out of trouble or to help them achieve a difficult target.
His mature leadership style is perfectly suited to provide stability and confidence to an under-performing team.
Hafeez has earned his teammates' respect. His attitude on the playing field is exemplary. He works hard and contributes to the team with his batting, bowling and fielding. Despite his seniority, he never shies away from hard work and that is a sign of a great leader. When he was unceremoniously dropped from the national team, he threw no tantrums in the media, nor did he make disparaging remarks about the team management.
He simply went back to domestic cricket and let his bat do the talking there. Upon his return to the Test side, in his first innings, he scored a blemish-less 126 against Australia at Dubai and his fighting spirit and doggedness served as an inspiration to his teammates. For that, the respect for him has only magnified.
A key attribute that distinguishes Hafeez from many others is his resilience. He has this never-say-die attitude that has served him well throughout his career. He has the ability to instill that kind of attitude, by example, in this Pakistan team that's often surrendered meekly under pressure. Moreover, he has the intelligence and the ability to think on his feet to help guide his team out of difficult situations.
Hafeez as captain of Pakistan will be a refreshing change. Pakistan is a talented and an exciting team. Their performance over the last year doesn't do justice to that reputation. A shake-up in its leadership is needed. Mohammad Hafeez is the right person for that job.