Friday, March 17, 2023
During the first Eliminator of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United on Thursday, Zalmi skipper Babar Azam clapped for a ball-picker who caught the ball after Alex Hales fired it outside the boundary.
As can be seen in a short video clip going viral on Twitter, Babar approached the boundary after the ball was hit that side. In the time that Babar got there, a young ball-picker had caught the ball. Babar, despite the heated situation of the match, took a minute to laud the young boy, before returning to the pitch.
The ball-picker beamed with delight at receiving acknowledgement from the national side captain can be seen visibly delighted as he walked away.
The moving scene was widely adored by social media users who appreciated Babar’s gesture as one of true mentorship, while one user called it “the best moment of PSL 8”.
However, Twitterati was quick to point out that the scene seemed all the more touching since Babar himself had started his cricketing journey as a ball-picker during South Africa’s 2007 tour of Pakistan.
To many tweeps, that scene was tantamount to coming full circle.
One user commented: “Best moment of the PSL 8. Babar Azam clap for ball-picker boy who takes a splendid catch outside boundary. 10 years ago Babar was ball-picker when South Africa toured Pakistan. tell me better story & motivation story than this.”
Another tweeted: “Just see the happiness on the face of the young boy when Babar Azam applauded him. Whenever I see Babar near these ball pickers, I remember his childhood when he was himself a ball picker. Does he also remember his childhood when he see them?”
Speaking to PCB media in 2021, Babar recounted the start of his career saying: “My cricket journey started back in 2007. I had a passion for the game but I really wanted to see international stars playing in front of me. At the time, the South African team was here so I asked someone to help me become a ball picker. I used to go daily from Gulberg to Gaddafi Stadium.”
He further said: “I used to enjoy picking up balls. I remember watching Inzamam-ul-Haq’s farewell innings where he got out before breaking the record of great Javed Miandad. I witnessed it live the way he went back to the dressing room and took his anger out. This journey has been long and tough but I feel blessed to be making my Test captaincy debut against the same team.”