Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Babar Azam should keep captaincy and batting separate: Sri Lankan great

Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene (L) and Babar Azam. — AFP/File
Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene (L) and Babar Azam. — AFP/File

  • Jayawardene says Babar Azam's form slight “concern” for Pakistan heading into T20 World Cup.
  • Says "try and not put pressure when you have quality player like Babar Azam". 
  • Says "you want your best player to be confident and relaxed" for World Cup.

Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain and star batter, is going through a rough patch in terms of his form recently, which has become a matter of "slight concern” for Pakistan heading into the T20 World Cup, according to Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene.

Babar managed just 68 runs in six outings in the Asia Cup 2022.

"It was a rare blip for one of the most consistent T20I batters of his generation, and it’s a streak that cost him the No 1 spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I batters’ rankings," read a press release issued for Mahela Jayawardena's ICC review.

What's Jayawardene's advice for Babar Azam

Former Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, a player who juggled both batting and captaincy in his heyday, had sound advice for Babar on tackling the dual role as the captain and as the best batter.

He stressed the need to ensure that the Pakistan skipper wasn’t surrounded by “undue pressure” heading into the ICC T20 World Cup.

"When you have a quality player like that, try and not put pressure on him," Jayawardene said.

"Leading into the World Cup, you want your best player to be confident and relaxed" going into the tournament, he added.

Jayawardene said that being the captain and being the best batsman for one's side is not an easy task.

However, he said that all is fine "as long as they are not putting undue pressure on him."

He, in fact, advised Babar to separate captaincy and batting.

"Going into a World Cup, forget about his captaincy and all that — be the batter that he can be, and then be the captain that he needs to be out there on the field,” he said.

He said that the two responsibilities have to be managed separately, and that is the key to being a good player and then being a captain of the team.

Babar himself is of a similar view as the ICC quoted him as saying:

"To come out of a bad patch, it's best not to overthink and keep things simple. The main thing is to keep believing in yourself. I know I've done well in the past and will do well in the future."