The announcement that Shoaib Malik has been named the new Pakistan captian to replace Inzimam after the team’s disastrous World Cup performance, was not a surprise since this had been rumored for a few days.
However, the choice is an interesting one. He is young (25 years old) and will be leading much more senior players (e.g., Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf). He has relatively little Test experience (18 Tests). He has courted controversy with his bowling action (but had surgery to ‘take care’ of the problem). On the other hand, at his best Shoaib is an absolute treat. His four sixes in an over against Kallis has to be one of the most enthralling cricket performances ever.
The report in The News points out this and more:
KARACHI: Pakistan on Thursday named young all-rounder Shoaib Malik as their new captain in a bid to rebuild a team that is seemingly falling apart following a disastrous World Cup campaign in the Caribbean last month.
Malik, 25, succeeds veteran Inzamam-ul-Haq who stepped down as captain following a shock World Cup defeat to Ireland in Kingston and has been appointed skipper after seasoned batsman Younis Khan turned down a captaincy offer made by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). He was preferred over a few more experienced men in the team like premier batsman Mohammad Yousuf and all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and has been given the reins of the national team till the end of this year for both Tests and one-dayers.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œShoaib Malik is the best man to lead Pakistan,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf said after making the expected announcement in Lahore. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHe is the future of Pakistan cricket and we hope that he would put our team back on track,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? he added. The Sialkot-born Malik has played 18 Tests and 137 one-dayers since making his international debut in a One-day International (ODI) against the West Indies in Sharjah in 1999. Ashraf pointed out that Malik was a unanimous choice to captain Pakistan adding that the youngster was intelligent and has a sharp cricketing mind. The PCB chief did not say it but it was apparent that the Board opted for Malik over the more seasoned Yousuf as it wanted to have a younger man at the helm of the national team having learnt from the sorry episode of InzamamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s captaincy in the World Cup.
Yousuf had offered to lead Pakistan after Younis declined captaincy but the PCB snubbed him and a few other senior players by selecting Malik as InzamamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s successor, making him one of the youngest men ever to captain Pakistan. MalikÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s first assignment as skipper would be a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi next month. According to Ashraf, MalikÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s track record as a captain would be assessed by the Board at the end of the year after which his future would be decided. In the remaining part of 2007, Pakistan have a few important assignments like the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September followed by a tough home series against South Africa and an away tour of India.
Malik became a strong contender for captaincy soon after it became clear that Younis was not interested in taking the hot seat. A largely prolific batsman and a useful off-spinner, Malik has established himself as an integral part of PakistanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ODI squad but is yet to prove himself as an equally important member of the Test team. He has scored 3524 ODI runs at an average of 33.56 with the help of five hundreds and 21 fifties besides taking 104 wickets. His Test career that began with a match against Bangladesh in Multan in 2001 is shorter and in 18 Tests he has scored 941 runs and has taken 13 wickets. Malik is regarded as one of the best fielders in the Pakistan team and was highly rated by his coach Bob Woolmer.
His international career, however, has been far from smooth because of a suspect bowling action. He was twice reported for an illegal action and had to undergo elbow surgery to get rid of the problem in 2006.
The task in front of him now is not an easy one. He has to not just lead a team that is in tatters but also has to rebuild a team that is devastated. His challenge is a long-term one and we at ATP wish him the best of luck. We also pray that the nation have the patience to give him time and the support that he will need to do his job – a job that cannot be easy; and a job that cannot be rushed.