At the age of 22 he has managed to equal the record of reaching 1,000 runs as quickly as Sir Vivian Richards, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Quinton de Kock. With three centuries on the trot against West Indies in the UAE, he has already smashed many a records to be counted amongst an elite group of players.
Babar Azam, one of Pakistan’s most prolific youngsters, who came through the age ranks to set up a name for himself, has potentially promised to become the country’s beacon of hope in the future. With an impeccable technique and a methodical approach, the right-handed batsman has shown Pakistan he is one of their best prospects in the batting department.
His flair with the bat even forced Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur to compare him to one of India’s greatest finds — Virat Kohli. A look at both batsmen’s careers, the first 23 matches, provides enough proof to back Arthur’s claim.
Virat, after 23 outings, had an average of 52.93 courtesy two tons, six half-tons and a highest score of 107. He was named man-of-the-match twice in that period. Babar, meanwhile, has maintained an average of 53.09 courtesy four centuries and six half-centuries with a top score of 123. With three man of the match and one man of the series award in the bag, he can boast a better early-career record than Kohli.
However, one factor that needs to be kept in mind while comparing both batsmen is the cricket structure of their respective countries. While Pakistan Cricket Board is becoming famous for taking decision based not on potentialities but probabilities, the Indian board seems to have pushed its best cricketers forward.
But, it should not go without saying that, both boards have their systems corrupted due to the involvement of politics but the rise of the Indian team in all formats and Pakistan’s downward spiral in ODIs and T20Is shows that BCCI is doing something better than us.
And this is what we should fear when considering the case of Babar.
If we take the case studies of the once-promising Umar Akmal and Ahmad Shahzad into account, lack of man-management brought them to the verge of completely being thrown out of the national squads.
Reports after reports questioned their discipline and work ethic but no one ever questioned their talent. So why did all of their potential go to waste?
The simple answer would be that the PCB did not know how to channel their energies into making them world-class players. Instead, they were left to rot in a system which does not take special care of individuals and instead forces identical regimes for all players. This does not take any blame off the players who did not try to improve, but its PCB’s duty to show them the way when they are lost, isn’t it?
Nevertheless, Babar is developing into one of the greatest batsmen of all time, his stats so far suggest that, and the PCB together with the team management and the coaches need to pay special attention to this youngster; we would hate to rue that another world-beater in the making lost his way when all seemed to go right for him.