Misbah ul Haq: Babar Azam has all the ingredients to become Pakistan cricket great

Former captain and coach tells 'The National' that the current skipper can become a record-breaker in all three formats of the game

Former Pakistan captain and head coach Misbah ul Haq at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.  Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Misbah ul Haq believes Pakistan captain Babar Azam has all the attributes to become a record-breaking cricketer for his country.

Babar is Pakistan's T20, ODI and Test captain and has established himself as a world-class batter in all three formats.

In the recent one-day series against New Zealand he became the fastest player to reach 5,000 ODI runs, in 97 innings, surpassing South African Hashim Amla’s record of 101.

Misbah remains Pakistan's most successful Test captain with 26 wins from 56 matches and he expects Azam – currently on eight victories in 18 matches – to better that record and break a few more along the way in all formats of the game.

“Baber can break all the records as a captain and as a cricketer,” Misbah told The National when he attended the Workers Challenge Cup organised by the Ministry of Human Resources at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi last week.

“It has been such a long time [since] we have had a player who is quite outstanding in all three formats. He is one of the all-time best batters in Pakistan after Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam ul Haq, Saeed Anwar and Zaheer Abbas.

“The technique and elegance in his batting, and the runs he has scored make him one of the best in the world.

“He’s got excellent work ethic. He’s a hard worker, analysing the game and handling the pressure. He takes his practising and perfecting his skills to a new level. He’s got all the ingredients to become a Pakistani cricketing great.”

Babar's record across the format is already very impressive. He has scored 3,696 runs in 47 Tests at an average of 48.63, 5,089 in ODIs at 59.17 and 3,485 in T20Is at 41.48.

And Misbah believes he has the potential to go on and make a similar impact to another batting great still making his mark in world cricket.

Pakistan's Babar Azam plays a shot against New Zealand during the fourth ODI in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 5, 2023. AP

“Babar has a touch of class and grace in his batting,” added Misbah, who was appointed as both head coach and chief selector of Pakistan in 2019. “He will be one of the top run-getters for Pakistan when he finally ends his career.

“He has that kind of potential. If he players for the next eight to 10 years he can do what Virat Kohli has done for India.”

After leaving his role as chief selector with the national team in 2020 and then head coach in 2021, Misbah, 48, is now ready to return to coaching in some form.

“I wouldn’t look for a full-time coaching job but I’m happy to do short term work, perhaps, in franchise cricket, which is something I would be interested in coaching or in a consultancy capacity,” he said.

“Franchise cricket is a lot different as you have some fun and enjoy, and working with different players from different countries. It’s something that I wouldn't mind doing, if the opportunity comes my way.

Misbah ul Haq poses for photos at Zayed Cricket Stadium.  Khushnum Bhandari / The National

“It’s difficult for the local coaches in the system in Pakistan. I have experienced that for two years. I enjoyed those two years, though the pressure is immense and [it is] difficult to work with the national team.”

Looking at the current Pakistan team, Misbah has faith that they can go all the way in the 50-over World Cup being held in India from October 5 to November 19.

“Pakistan has one of the strongest teams going into the World Cup,” he said. “We have a good balanced team and we've got a very good chance.

“We have a good top order in batting and an equally good bowling attack. It depends on how we use the resources.”

Looking outside Pakistan, Misbah’s vote goes to England as a leading contender for the title. “They are a very good team in any conditions,” he added. “They are the world champions in two formats – 50 overs and T20. For me, they will be the team to watch.”

Updated: May 09, 2023, 1:48 PM