Game-changer Sarfraz, gladiator Sarfraz, hard-hitter Sarfraz – a player apportioned with several towering titles even before being handed the non-too-rosy responsibility of Pakistan’s T20 captaincy.
But who is he really? The truth is, Sarfraz Ahmed is all of these and more. It was only four years ago that he was participating in a UAE domestic T20 tournament and requesting the local press to give him good coverage and herein lies – partially – the secret to his success.
Unlike a number of his predecessors, he has maintained very good relations with the media. During the numerous times that his former Head Coach Waqar Younis was castigated for not playing him up the order, he maintained a discrete silence and in front of the cameras at least, steered clear of the controversies.
A big talking point amongst the un-relentless media, is how he will handle senior players such as his most recent former captain Shahid Afridi, Mohammed Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. Whilst at practice he is seen to be deferential to them, as their leader he will have to become much more dominant.
Speaking at the press chat following the captaincy announcement, he described Shahid Afridi as “The biggest superstar I know,” and said he would try to lead his teammates “with understanding.”
A look at the stats of the 102 T20 matches he has played shows a strike rate of 126.49 and an average of 28.06 – however, to be fair to him, at times he has been used as merely a pinch-hitter when he is worthy of more, or sometimes sent too lower down the order.
Legendary Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara’s arrival in the Quetta Gladiators camp during the Pakistan Super League, gave all the players and media an understandable adrenaline rush, but it was Safraz Ahmed whom the former focused on. Long after the rest of the team had left nets, Sangakkara stayed behind with Sarfraz and gave him invaluable wicket-keeping tips. It is to Sarfraz’s credit that a player of Sangakkara’s stature appreciated his commitment to his craft.
Perhaps the best advice for him comes from ARY Sports Chief Shahid Hashmi who feels that for Sarfraz to succeed in a position riddled with obstacles, he will have to “become more intelligent.”
Having captained at club and U19 levels earlier in his career, Sarfraz Ahmed is astute enough to be aware of the possible pitfalls of leadership, especially when it is a position sought after by many. In the end, his silence may just be his biggest strength.