ISLAMABAD: Former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody believes Pakistan’s talented batsman Babar Azam was a special talent, who would be going to be in top five Test batsmen of the decade.
“Babar has emerged over the last year or so into something that is going to be so special. We talked about how Virat Kohli is so good on the eye as a batsman. If you think Virat Kohli is good to watch, have a look at Babar Azam bat. My gosh, he is something special,” Moody said in The Pitch Side Experts Podcast as quoted by cricketpakistan.com.pk.
“I think in the next five to ten years, he will definitely be in your top five [batsmen of the decade] without a question.”
However, while selecting the top five Test batsmen of the last decade, Moody said that it would be too early to put Babar in the same category as Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson.
“Even though he [Babar] has played 26 matches but in half of those matches he was not considered even part of the main batting line-up for Pakistan. He was the after-thought down the order,” he said.
“I think at the moment, it is very hard to justify him at that position given his statistics. Away from home he is only averaging 37 and at home he is averaging 67. But we have to consider that he has hardly played away from home and a lot of those games away were during the early part of his career.”
Azam has recently broken into the top five in ICC Test batsmen rankings, after a prolific last season, in which he scored four centuries in his previous five Tests.
Adding to the growing legion of fans for Babar is former Pakistani coach Mickey Arthur.
“I saw Babar Azam grow as a cricketer. That was so important. People had said that Babar Azam cannot play. I ensured that Babar Azam plays every game for Pakistan. He is that good a player. We had to give him the roots to grow and wings to fly. We had to give him the time and we are seeing the results now,” Sportstar quoted the South African as saying.
Arthur, who was appointed as head coach of the Pakistan team in May 2016, said he love developing younger players. “Giving them opportunity was crucial because over a period of time, that gives you sustainable success. I have always been a coach, who has tried to identify the areas that we needed to improve. I have tried to identify the brand of cricket we play and then structure the team with people who can fit into that brand of cricket.
“Then, give them an opportunity and allow them to get an extended run. That is important because that gives the players confidence and allows your team culture to grow. Once you have that, you can win a title like the Champions Trophy 2017. We [Pakistan] started the tournament ranked eighth and we ended up winning it. It happened because of the confidence we showed in the young players,” he said.
Pakistan beat India by 180 runs in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Arthur said the one key aspect to coaching Pakistan was understanding the religious aspect around it, which was very prominent. “It’s understanding the respect level that the young Pakistan players have for the senior players. It’s there in India too. There is a real respect,” he said.
Speaking about the 2020 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Arthur, who is currently the head coach of the Sri Lankan team, said we should certainly try our hardest to play T20 World Cup this year. “There are two points: Firstly, it gives a lot of cricket boards their revenue. Secondly, people can’t forget that next year, there is another T20 World Cup in India. So, where does this one fit in the calendar? I think it is so important for the cricket world that we play the T20 World Cup this year,” he said.