In the midst of Pakistan’s disappointing run at the ongoing World Cup 2023, seasoned cricketer Mohammad Hafeez has raised concerns about the ‘greatness’ label attributed to team captain Babar Azam. The debate comes as the Men in Green faced a series of setbacks in the tournament, calling into question both Azam’s leadership and his perceived stature in the game.
Hafeez, in a recent appearance on a television program, acknowledged Azam’s prowess with the bat, hailing him as a “very, very good” player. However, he underscored that labeling Azam as a ‘great’ player might be premature and could inadvertently impose undue pressure on the young skipper.
The former Pakistan all-rounder emphasized that those proclaiming Azam’s greatness might not have witnessed the true greats of the game, both from Pakistan and around the world.
Expressing his reservations, Hafeez stated, “When he’s called a great Pakistan player, then I have doubts over it. Those who say that probably haven’t seen greats of the game – from Pakistan and around the world. Yes, he is a very, very good player. He is not great yet. We are putting a tag on him before he’s reached those stages. That’s pressure on him.”
Beyond questioning Azam’s individual performance, Hafeez also critiqued his leadership skills, citing a lack of technical growth within the Pakistani squad since Azam assumed captaincy. The veteran cricketer highlighted the need for Azam to elevate his game, especially in the context of the ongoing World Cup.
Drawing a comparison with Indian skipper Rohit Sharma, Hafeez praised Sharma for leading his team assertively and recommended a similar approach for Azam.
He emphasized, “If you’re talking about Babar’s captaincy, I’ve said it before: the maturity and technical growth that should have come in the last three years hasn’t been seen. He needs to step up his game. He needs to perform and stay in an aggressive zone: other captains have, Rohit Sharma is successful because he is leading from the front.”
The Pakistan team’s journey in the World Cup has been a rollercoaster ride, starting with wins against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka before suffering three consecutive defeats, including losses to arch-rivals India, Australia, and Afghanistan. These losses have severely dented Pakistan’s chances of progressing to the semi-finals.
However, it’s noteworthy that despite the team’s struggles, Babar Azam has shown individual brilliance, amassing three half-centuries in the tournament, including notable performances against South Africa and the table-topping Indian team.
The debate over Babar Azam’s ‘greatness’ in cricket continues as Pakistan grapples with challenges both on and off the field, with opinions divided on whether the talented batsman has truly earned the prestigious title in the world of cricket.