Babar Azam’s performance at the recently concluded Cricket World Cup earned him several accolades. It only took him eight innings to enter the record books by scoring most runs (474) by a Pakistani batsman in a World Cup.
His tenure of one ton and three half centuries at the World Cup not only asserted his authority in absolute fashion, but it also forced former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad to say that the 24-year-old is a worthy candidate to lead the team from front. Reacting to it though, the batsman has said that captaining his national side has never really crossed his mind, as his only focus is on his performance.
“It's up to the Pakistan Cricket Board to decide whoever captains the team and in whichever format,” the 24-year-old told The Cricket Paper.
“The Board will decide who the captain or captains are and the players of course abide by their choice. I've never really thought about captaining Pakistan and have in all honesty only thought about playing for my country.
“I am not someone who craves being captain and I’m more interested in scoring runs for Pakistan. Whoever the Board chooses is the right choice and in fact, I think Sarfaraz Ahmed is fine and is doing a good job at the moment.”
Despite being level on points with the eventual finalists New Zealand, Pakistan’s elimination from the World Cup came on the back of an inferior run-rate. Speaking about it, the 24-year-old highlighted the fixtures which cost his team a place in the semi-final.
“Two matches really cost us and hit us hard. Firstly there was the heavy loss to West Indies which seriously damaged our Net Run-Rate. And then, the next setback was the defeat to Australia where we were on course to win, but quick wickets hit us hard and we ended up losing a match we should have won.”
Speaking about the new world champions, England, Babar added that the key for the Three Lions was their opening pair of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow. To add to it, Joe Root’s presence’s further controlled England’s batting order, and the rest of the job was undertaken by the bowlers.
“A team’s openers are crucial in any form of cricket and Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow most of the time gave England excellent starts at the World Cup.
“They were very consistent throughout the tournament and when a team’s openers give you a good start, then the rest of the batting order can work with that and feed off that good start. In England’s case, after the good starts by Roy and Bairstow, there was Joe Root who could come in and control the innings with the rest of the batting unit batting around him.
“When they had runs on the board their bowling attack, which I felt was the best in the tournament, did what was required of them. I know Jofra Archer received a lot of plaudits for his performances at the World Cup, but Chris Woakes was the bowler who I felt was crucial for them. He more often than not took key early wickets and put the opposition batsmen under pressure.”
Meanwhile, comparisons with the Indian captain, Virat Kohli has always been in and around Azam’s career. But he says he is hardly fazed by it just because they are ‘different types of players’.
“I don't think there is or should be any comparison as we are different types of players. I just focus on my batting and working on my strengths and weaknesses and have no desire to be compared with any other cricketer.
“I'm sure I speak for most cricketers when I say comparisons are only for fans and the media and we cricketers don't really crave any comparisons or want to be compared to any current or former players as that just creates endless pressure. As great as he is, I don't want to be compared to Virat or any other cricketer. I just want to win matches for my country as that is my only aim."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Paul Ellis