As had been widely expected, Sarfraz Ahmed will become Pakistan’s 32nd Test captain. At a reception held at the prime minister’s residence in honour of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy victory, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan announced he had offered the role to Sarfraz, who accepted it.
Sarfraz will now lead Pakistan in all three formats. He took over the T20I captaincy after the 2016 World T20, when Shahid Afridi stepped down following Pakistan’s early exit, and became ODI captain when Azhar Ali resigned in February this year. Tuesday’s announcement ends speculation over the identity of Misbah-ul-Haq‘s successor as Test captain. Misbah, who retired at the end of Pakistan’s tour of West Indies in May, was Pakistan’s longest serving and most successful Test captain, leading them to 26 wins in 56 matches. And even though Sarfraz is unarguably Pakistan cricket’s most prized asset at the moment, Misbah’s will be a tough act to follow.
This is also the first time in five years that Pakistan have had one man at the helm across formats; Misbah was the last man to lead all three sides, and he stepped down from the T20 leadership following the 2012 World Twenty20. Sarfraz’s appointment had been expected ever since chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq expressed a desire to see one captain across all formats. And it became all but inevitable after the 30-year-old wicketkeeper batsman led Pakistan all the way to a stunning, against-the-odds triumph at the ICC Champions Trophy in June.
Sarfraz is also one of a handful of Pakistan players whose place in the starting XI is assured in all three formats. Even before he took over as Pakistan’s limited-overs captain, he had plenty of leadership experience, having led the Under-19 side to a memorable World Cup win in 2006. He has also been Quetta Gladiators’ captain in the Pakistan Super League since the tournament’s inception, and has led them to successive runners-up finishes.
“It’s an honour to captain Pakistan in all three formats,” Sarfraz said at the reception. “Like we have done with ODI and T20 cricket recently, I would like us to improve our Test performances as well. I wish to thank Shahryar Khan for placing his trust in me, and we would like to ask everyone to put their trust in the Pakistan cricket team.”
Sarfraz’s first Test assignment will be a ‘home’ series in the UAE against Sri Lanka, which starts on October 19 and will comprise three Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000