Cricket is one of the most famous sports in cricket. Especially in Pakistan, the game holds great popularity as the Pakistan team is great. Pakistan has one of the best bowling attacks in the world. The team has been famous for having the services of top-notch bowlers in the side since the start of its cricketing era. From the players who bowl astonishing deliveries comprising of the inswingers and outswingers to players who bowl great yorkers.
Pakistan has been enjoying the services of fine fast bowlers. However, Pakistan struggled in the batting department. Yes, legends of the batting department played cricket amazingly well in the Test format. But the batsmen did just come in phases. In recent times, all the young cricketers were not showing their peak. Until Babar Azam came to the circuit for Pakistan in all formats of the game including Test cricket.
There is no shadow of a doubt that Babar is one of the best batsmen in the world. He has all the quality shots in his cricketing textbook. From playing spectacular cover drives, phenomenal straight drives, and astonishing leg-side flicks to beautiful pull shots, Babar has been demonstrating great potential in Test cricket. In limited-overs cricket, some experts are holding the debate that Babar Azam is the best batsman in ODI and T20I cricket combined.
Babar Azam in Test Cricket: Less Centuries
Babar has proved that by scoring a tremendous amount of runs all over the world. He has performed and shown extreme potential on the field. All the great cricket experts admire him. In ODI cricket, Babar Azam has scored 17 centuries with a batting average of 59.79 in the format. If we talk about the T20I cricket, Babar has scored 30 fifties with a batting average of 41.31 in the format.
He is averaging 48.19 in Test cricket, but he is yet to show his best side in Test cricket. Babar Azam has performed greatly in limited-overs cricket after scoring many centuries in the format. However, Babar has played 81 innings and scored only 8 centuries in the Test format. Well, a player like Babar Azam is among the top-tier batsmen. He scored centuries on many occasions.
When Babar Azam was set on the crease in Test cricket, he often lost his wicket by getting close to the hundred. He looks flawless when he bats well in Test cricket. Babar needs to keep up the momentum while he is building the innings. He needs to learn the art of carrying on the innings which looks extremely delightful when he is playing that one. All the players who are great at the format of Test cricket have a great number of hundreds in the format. From Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, and Rahul Dravid to Younus Khan, all players have been putting on amazing hundreds on the board.
The Sample Size is Small for Judge Babar Azam in Test Cricket
The highest score of Babar Azam is 196 in Test cricket. Yes, the sample size is really small but Babar needs to score double hundreds to show he is one of the best players in the business. All the players mentioned above have achieved the feat of scoring big hundreds. The big hundreds demonstrate the potential of a great batsman.
Not only do the big hudreds add achievements to the individual bag, but they help the teams in covering the journey of putting great totals on the board in the innings. Scoring a triple hundred is a huge task in Test cricket. However, demanding the batsman to score a double hundred is not such a huge task. Babar Azam is yet to score big hundreds in the Test format. The performances will surely elevate him as a cricketer.
Getting Out On The Start Of the Next Day
On many instances, Babar lost his wicket at the start of the next day while on the previous evening, he was set on the crease. Babar Azam builds the innings amazingly well in Test cricket. However, Babar Azam often fails to carry the momentum from the last day to the next day in Test cricket.
In the initial overs of the next day in Test cricket, Babar failed to carry the innings on many occasions. This provided a huge dent to the plans of the batting side because a team expects the batsman to carry the innings on the next day. Especially when the batsman is as much great as Babar Azam in Test cricket, he needs to carry the innings until the end.
If Babar Azam improves this flaw and carries the innings well on the next day, he could totally score big hundreds. There is no need to deny the fact that it is a difficult task to play the innings early in the morning. It is the best chance for the bowler to expose the batsman because the energy levels and stamina are high the next day.
Babar needs to work on his ability to carry the innings at the start of the next day in Test cricket and this skill could really upgrade his level in the format. Babar Azam has all the skillset to become the best batsman of the Test format. However, only some kind of right execution awaits the captain of the Pakistan team, Babar Azam, in Test cricket.
Babar Azam in Test Cricket: Is Captaincy a Problem?
Babar Azam might be carrying the burden of captaincy in Test cricket. Even great batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis were not captains. The management should make sure that Babar is not carrying any kind of burden regarding his captaincy department.
Captaincy is a huge job in the Test format. The captain needs to carry his team in the longest format of cricket. Not only the individual performance could be compromised in the process, but the team could also suffer. Pakistan Cricket Team should make some clear observations and look for the future of Babar Azam as the captain of Test cricket. Furthermore, it is time for Babar Azam to decide it too. Sometimes a great player needs to take big decisions in cricket.
All the players in the past looked to the burden the captaincy was given to them which is why they gave the captaincy. The decision helped the captain to prioritize their tasks and perform well for the country. Similarly, Babar Azam could also opt for the same path.
He could truly cover the journey of becoming a great batsman by taking this huge step. He is one of the best cricketers in the world. The decision could truly upgrade his rank as a cricketer. Pakistan Cricket Board needs to help Babar Azam in the process. Things start falling into place when you take up the big decisions. You could expect the same decision from Pakistan’s best batsman. He is a phenomenal cricketer for sure. Taking up this amazing responsibility will put him in the category of an elite cricketer.
Babar Azam in Test Cricket: Modern Era Standards
Cricket is evolving. The game has evolved to become a fast-paced game. Batsmen are scoring with higher strike rates in Test cricket too. If you look at the game of England according to the modern era standards, they are putting up some of the pieces of the limited-overs cricket to Test cricket. England has been performing spectacularly well following this approach.
Since Brendon McCullum joined the roster of the English side, England has been showing tremendous potential on the field. If we look at the display of Australia in Test cricket, the likes of David Warner and Steven Smith are demonstrating amazing skillsets on the field. They are following the approach of playing fast-paced cricket that is counting for the Australian side.
In the powerplay overs, the Australian side plays a spectacular kind of cricket to keep up the flow in the innings. The players play aggressive shows and show great command on the field to demonstrate how modern-era cricket is evolving.
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Babar Can Try To Change Gears in Test Cricket and Introduce New Approach
As players like Steven Smith and Virat Kohli who are his direct competitors are following this approach, Babar should also try to change the gears in Test cricket. He can opt to play with the higher strike rate to build up the innings better.
However, the approach could be a contradiction to Babar Azam’s weakness of not carrying the innings on the next day. This is an important thing in Test cricket. Babar should try to follow this approach but not at the risk of losing wickets in the process.
The introduction of the new approach will come with risks. England brought this approach in Test cricket and risked their conventional playing style. Yes, the results came for the English side but the risk is present at the same place. But the risk could give spectacular results. Just like in the case of Ben Stokes when he whitewashed Pakistan on their home soil following the same approach.
The Step-by-Step Process
Babar Azam can go step by step in this regard. There is no need to hurry in the process. If Babar Azam finds his groove in the process he is learning, he could go on to become one of the finest batsmen. The modern era of cricket is changing as time is progressing. The players are adjusting their game to become better players. If you are one of the finest batsmen present in the circuit, you would also do the same.
Babar is a player with a tremendous amount of potential. He bats well. He leads well. Babar performs tremendously well. Making a little change in his game would pave the way and journey for him in reaching the wonderful places in Test cricket. There is no doubt that conventional cricket can’t be always followed in the 21st century. Yes, the boomers might make the opinion that Test cricket will remain the same. But successful sides like England have proved how things are changing. How the change is healthy for modern-era cricket.
The partnerships are tremendously important in Test cricket. If Kumar Sangakkara was performing at the elite level in Test cricket, there was Mahela Jaywardane who was providing him the support. If Younus Khan was demonstrating tremendous potential on the crease, Mohammad Yousuf and Misbah ul Haq were present beside their side.
Sachin Tendulkar needed Rahul Dravid in the process of unleashing the best version of himself. Similarly, Babar needs to find a partner who can do the same job for him in Test cricket. He can trust Abdullah Shafique. He is the guy who is a proper textbook cricketer. The way he builds the innings is admirable. For Babar, the support of Abdullah Shafique will work. The long partnerships with Abdullah and trusting him in Test cricket could truly work for Babar Azam.
What if Abdullah not fires? In case, Saud Shakeel is there. As the leader of the Pakistan batting side, Babar Azam can test his compatibility with all kinds of batsmen. If there is enough support from the other end, Babar Azam can truly adjust his gameplay and become a wonderful cricketer. Building long partnerships really helps in the process. If the partnerships are long, they really help the batsman to build up long platforms.
Babar Azam can trust Abdullah which will help him in building and playing the innings that are long. He is a phenomenal cricketer. According to the experts, Babar Azam is already one of the greatest batsmen. If Babar Azam rectifies his mistakes and things start falling in place for him, Pakistan should be ready for the treat.
Babar Azam in Test Cricket: Performance in SENA
There is one credit that should be given to Babar Azam in Test cricket. The way he carried the performance in the longest format of the game in the SENA period is commendable. While we are discussing the points Babar Azam needs to improve in Test cricket to unlock the fine version of himself, the other side of the story reminds us of his performances in SENA countries. The performance of Babar in the SENA countries has been admirable.
If we talk about the stint of Babar Azam in Australia. When Pakistan toured Australia for the Test series, they faced the challenge of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood delivering the thunderbolts to trouble the batsmen. Despite the challenge which the Australian bowling side was causing, Babar Azam scored a hundred in Brisbane. That was a remarkable performance. Especially, when the team was going through a tough phase, Babar performed on the biggest stage and showed that he is a big thing in cricket.
Similarly, when Pakistan toured South Africa, they awaited the huge challenge of the tough bowling attack and challenging conditions. In South Africa bowlers like Dale Steyn do allow easy runs on the board for the other side. When Babar Azam was batting in South Africa, he was a rookie. He just came to the renowned circuit of Test cricket. There is pressure.
Huge pressure. But the way he hit the shots in the gaps against the legendary bowler. He smashed Dale Steyn all around the park. He stood up on the occasion. The cricket experts were appreciating the class of Babar Azam. They were welcoming the batting star into the circuit. On South African soil, Babar Azam was just announcing his arrival in Test cricket.
Then Pakistan toured England for the Test series. The first innings Babar Azam played in that series was just astonishing. He was hitting the shots in the gaps. He was demonstrating spectacular command on the crease. Babar is a star. He proved it. James Anderson was bowling against the star of Pakistan. When Anderson bowls in his condition, he is a favorite bowler in those conditions. He swings the ball both ways to trouble the batsmen.
The bowling star James Anderson was upfront. He was ready for the challenge. But Babar faced Anderson extremely well in the innings. In the Test series vs England, he made an impact and became one of the successful performers for Pakistan in that series. But again one thing. The hundred? It did not come. Babar Azam did not score a hundred however scored runs that make an impact. But the innings which was long? Long enough to win his side a game in England? No, it did not come.
Babar Azam has not yet played in the New Zealand conditions. New Zealand has one of the best bowling attacks in the world as far as the Test cricket is concerned. Whenever Pakistan will tour New Zealand for the Test matches, a huge challenge awaits Pakistan.
The Comparison of Babar in Test Cricket To Other Test Batsmen
There is a comparison of Babar Azam with the best Test batsmen in the world. Did you ever think about where Babar stands in comparison to those cricketers?
The players like Cheteshwar Pujara are tremendously composed on the crease and build the innings greatly in the Test format. We have talked about the modern-era standards in the article, but Pujara has been following the pattern of conventional cricket.
Smith-Williamson-Kohli vs Babar in Test Cricket
He has been successful in following this approach in cricket. On the other hand, if we talk about the batting display of Steven Smith, he has a unique way of playing the format of Test cricket. Smith is not aggressive. He does not like to hit consistent boundaries in the format of Test cricket to get over the opposition. However, he is not a cricketer who follows a slow pattern. He maintains balance. He is a definition of a proper Test cricket batsman. There is a reason why Smith is covering the journey of becoming one of the greatest Test batsmen of all time.
The New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson is classy and whenever we talk about the proper textbook cricketers, Williamson is up there. Virat Kohli needs no introduction. Yes, he did go through some rough patches in his career but that does not deny his legacy in the format of Test cricket. Virat Kohli has every shot in his cricketing textbook for an ideal batsman surely.
From cover drives, and straight drives to leg-side flicks, Kohli is a player who shows a spectacular display on the field. Babar Azam can observe his game and take some important notes from his gameplay. Obviously, every cricketer is unique in the world. However, Babar can mix up ingredients and cover the path of becoming one of the best Test cricketers of all time. There is no expert who could deny that Babar is one of the fine batsmen in the modern era currently.