babar azam as captain

Written by Amjad Riaz 6:43 pm Opinion, Published Content

Babar Azam as Captain: Out or Not Out?

The PCB’s announcement of the squad for the T20I series yesterday has people surprised by the absence of the Pakistan team’s captain, Babar Azam. In this opinion piece, Amjad Riaz makes the case for why Babar should be able to keep his captaincy—do you think the same?
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About the Author(s)
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Mr Amjad Riaz is a lawyer with a keen interest in sports.

Outcries of removing Babar Azam as the captain of the Pakistan team are getting louder with each passing day. Every press conference since the England test series had a point to prove: Babar Azam is not the suitable man to lead the team. This is not the first time we are witnessing such a campaign. Almost every captain has had to face such nonsense.

We have a national psyche of wanting overnight results. We do not believe in the process. The same is the case in cricket. Our ad-hoc policies and changes have more often than not cost us in the long run. Despite being a cricket nation blessed with loads of talent at our disposal, we have not lived up to our potential due to short-term policies. From Inzamam to Babar, since Waqar Younis resigned post-2003 World cup, we have changed as many as eleven captains. In the meanwhile, India, roughly, has had three, Australia four, and England four.

One of the major reasons Pakistan cricket saw a new low every next day over the last two decades is the frequent and untimely change of captains. Captains need to be given a long run at the helm of affairs. We have ample case studies to prove the point. Take the example of India. They were struggling in the 90s and changing captains frequently. Ever since they decided to give their captains a long run, the Indian team has done wonders in its performance. The mighty Aussies of the late 90s and early 2000s under Ponting, and Proteas under Graeme Smith are other examples of teams that have done exceptionally well under a settled leader.

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Coming to the current issue of the agenda being run to depose Babar as the captain. It is unfathomable even to contemplate a captain other than Babar at this stage. He has proved himself worthy of this position both as a captain and as a player. Before digging deep into his captaincy record, let’s debunk the myth that the captaincy would or is impacting Babar as a batsman. Babar has an average of 49 across formats as a captain with 12 centuries, the most by any Pakistani captain, in this period.

His batting average as captain in the ODIs is a staggering 81 and a 53 in Tests; he has also scored match-winning knocks in all three formats as a captain and has won matches singlehandedly. What else must Babar Azam prove that his position as the captain has not and will not impact his batting prowess?

However, Babar Azam has not proven himself to be an impressive captain, but he is still much better than what is being portrayed. His white ball captaincy has been up to the mark. Pakistan has played two finals and one semi-final during his captaincy in the last two years.

The winning percentage of the team under Babar in the T20Is was 65.57, second only to the 78 under Sarfaraz Ahmed, with Babar having led in 66 matches, while Sarfraz led in 37. The team’s performance in the ODIs is also quite good, having a winning percentage of 64 in this format. So, to say that Babar Azam has led the team very well in the shorter formats won’t be wrong.

Test cricket has been the format where Babar’s team couldn’t produce the desired results. There must be flaws in his captaincy, no doubt. Sometimes he is not as proactive as he should be. However, to say that Babar’s captaincy is the only reason behind the recent losses would be a bit harsh. If we were to closely analyze the tests that Pakistan lost in, that was mainly due to the inexperience of the team.

Rather than taking abrupt decisions, we need to build a team around him and have faith in the process. Deposing Babar won’t do any good to Pakistan cricket. It would, in fact, be a step in the backward direction of sports. He commands respect, and the team is well-gelled under his leadership. Removing him would disintegrate the whole unit, and all the progress that has been made since his appointment would be lost.

Babar Azam should be given assurance that his position as a captain is not under threat and that he would have the full backing of the board to lead the team with authority and conviction.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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