Captaincy isn’t anyone’s cup of tea. It comes with an enormous amount of pressure and often the skipper of the team has to bear the brunt for one loss, or a bad decision. It does not matter if you are a superstar of the team, or considered a demi-God, as captaincy does not care for the reputation of the players.
Sachin Tendulkar would still feel the pain of not being able to master the art of leadership, although there was criticism along the way that he didn’t have a great team, the record though is still fresh in the minds of people of him not being a successful leader for India.
Few top cricketers though have aced in the captaincy as well, apart from being successful batters. The likes of Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, and more recently Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli have consistently scored a truckload of runs and have been gun leaders for their respective sides too. Well, it can’t be said in which category Babar Azam falls into.
Thrusted into the leadership in all the three formats of the game last year, Azam has had a mixed start to this role. While he came in with a strong reputation with regards to captaincy, he quickly found out how the role was more difficult than what he would have assumed. The limited-overs series against England was a rude shock to the 26-year-old of what it takes to be a tougher leader.
Welcome to the world of captaincy Mr. Babar Azam
After brushing aside the likes of South Africa and Zimbabwe, the right-hand batter would have thought it is indeed lovely to be a leader. But his world turned upside down when a second-string England team defeated Pakistan in both the ODI and T20I series, leaving him gasping for breath. There was never an iota of a doubt regarding his batting, but it was about the captaincy which few former Pakistan players, experts, and fans felt was not up to the mark.
Babar Azam was lambasted by the critics for opting to field first in the second T20I against England after winning the first game while batting first. If that was not enough, he was also targeted for including certain players in the team, who didn’t quite match the reputation of few players.
Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Akhtar had this to say when quizzed on Azam being the leader of the side. “My approach is completely different, I would have made Babar a great batsman and put pressure on him to play a certain type of innings so that the entire Pakistan team plays around him,” Akhtar told PTV Sports.
Azam also failed to lift the spirits of the team up after the team was shot out for just 141 in the first ODI against England. Although the skipper scored a classy 158 in the third and final ODI, the series was lost with him ending up scoring 177 across the three ODI games. But was Babar Azam destined to be a leader? Let’s take a closer look at that fact
A decent record at the Under-19 level while captaining
|1||Anamul Haque||29 years||RHB||Bangladesh Under-19s||6||6||0||365||128||60.83||2||1|
|2||Babar Azam||27 years||RHB||Pakistan Under-19s||6||6||1||287||106||57.40||1||2|
|3||Javed Ahmadi||30 years||RHB||Afghanistan Under-19s||6||6||0||285||134||47.50||1||1|
|4||Quinton de Kock||29 years||LHB||South Africa Under-19s||6||6||0||284||126||47.33||1||2|
|5||Chad Bowes||29 years||RHB||South Africa Under-19s||6||6||0||283||115||47.17||1||0|
|6||W Bosisto||28 years||RHB||Australia Under-19s||6||6||5||276||87||276.00||0||2|
|7||Liton Das||27 years||RHB||Bangladesh Under-19s||6||6||1||262||102||52.40||1||2|
|8||Unmukt Chand||28 years||RHB||India Under-19s||6||6||1||246||111||49.20||1||1|
|9||BT Foakes||—||England Under-19s||6||6||0||234||92||39.00||0||2|
|10||Robert O Donnell||—||New Zealand Under-19s||6||6||0||232||69||38.67||0||2|
The above graphic depicts Azam’s record as the captain during the Under-19 World Cup in 2012. One thing is crystal clear that the right-hand batter was not bothered about the additional burden of captaincy. He scored 287 runs and was one of the shining lights of the team. Although Pakistan didn’t qualify for the finals, Azam’s stock as a batter rose rapidly. And from here he was always earmarked to be the leader of the team.
Is Babar Azam better as a non-captain?
While the Fab four comprise of Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, and Steve Smith, Babar’s name too always has made the rounds due to his stupendous success across formats. Started with a bang in ODI and T20 cricket, the 26-year-old surprisingly took time to find his footing in the Test format. Known to be aesthetically pleasing and rock-solid in technique, Azam failed to get going in red-ball cricket, before the 2019 year changed things for him.
He has so far scored 3985 runs at a healthy average of 56.92 in the ODIs and, 2169 runs in 33 Tests at an average of 42.52. But with the additional burden of leading the side, Azam may find it difficult to continue hitting at this phenomenal rate. Root too struggled to get going in the initial few years as the Test captain of the England team before he cemented it with double-hundreds against Sri Lanka and India respectively.
Pakistan are also generally considered a weaker batting side and the pressure for Babar Azam to deliver the goods is immense. While he has so far done a good job in batting and there is no dip in his form, for now, the 26-year-old may want to continue in the role of leadership.
Babar Azam’s record as captain and non-captain respectively
|Format||Innings||Runs||Avg||SR||100/50||HS||Contribution in team runs|
|Format||Innings||Runs||Avg||SR||100/50||HS||Contribution in team runs|
Series against West Indies: An Acid test for Babar Azam as the leader
Babar Azam is now in West Indies as his side will face hosts in a four-match T20I series. Already the experts and the critics feel this series will decide his fate as the leader for Pakistan in all three formats. With wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan breathing down his neck, the 26-year-old has to deliver the results that too in quick time. And the first task is against the mighty West Indies in the shortest format.
Also, the right-hand batter has made a bold claim of captaincy not affecting him much while batting. “I think it’s important to understand what is the captaincy. It’s all about on-field encouraging the players. When the bowlers get hit, you have to back them. Back the batsmen when the scores aren’t coming.
“From the time I’ve become captain, the margin of error is more and the expectations have also increased. I try to perform in every match. Since the time I’ve become captain, my performances have improved as well. I take it as a challenge. Hopefully, I can carry on and I can improve even more,” Babar Azam told in a virtual press conference.A
As captain or player, Babar Azam will score runs for the team. His captaincy moves may not now be up to the mark yet, but there is no doubting his sizzling drive through the covers for four.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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