Every cricketing nation has very different types of cricket fans. Australians come for BBQ in tests while English people spend rest of their retirement in cricket stadiums watching cricket and reading magazines. South Africans jump in a pool and watch cricket at the same time. Kiwis come to the stadiums with a picnic basket. Everyone has their own way to enjoy cricket. Asians are completely from rest of the world. For Asians, cricket is what brings people together. It’s more like a festival, loud crowd, banners, different chants and music. Suddenly, you don’t know if there’s world outside the stadium, you forget everything and enjoy the moment. The same way Asians criticize a lot. It’s more like a habit now. Without any logic, criticism comes out.
Babar Azam has been definitely a great find for the Pakistani cricket. For years Pakistani thrived a batsman who could score centuries with consistency. Players were criticized for not setting high totals and that really hit few players a lot and had a negative impact on their performance. Many players came in and went back but no one was much consistent. Now that Babar Azam has scored back to back centuries against Sri Lanka, he’s been criticized for playing with a low strike-rate and playing selfish. Strike-rate has not been that low for Babar so far in his career. When he scored his first ODI hundred against West Indies last year, Pakistan were 3 down before reaching hundred in the first innings. What do you expect from him? Hit 36 every single over? Keep on hitting and just give away his wicket a few balls later? Babar really did nothing too boring and completed his maiden ODI century with a strike-rate of 91.60. In the next match, Pakistan were 50 for 2 and Babar later scored his second consecutive ODI century with a strike-rate of 97.61. In the third ODI of that series Babar scored his third consecutive century with a strike-rate of 110. He then toured Australia where he scored 84 with a strike-rate 84. In the very next match, Babar scored his very first ODI century on the Australian soil. In that innings he played with a strike-rate of 91.94.
In all these strike-rates above, how can you justify that Babar is a selfish batsman? What makes you think 3 or 4 low innings can show the real character of a player? He’s mature enough to realize it’s not 1985 and there’s no way he deliberately wanted to play slow and get himself a hundred at the end. The pitches in this series have been more spin friendly than they used to be a few years ago. Pakistani batsmen usually struggle in these conditions in the short formats, we’ve always seen that. Under Misbah’s era it was normal to have 5 players back in the pavilion below the score of hundred. What do you really expect from a batsman when his team is 75 for 5 wickets? Give away his wicket as well? Just close his eyes and hope for a boundary? Play a shot and edge it like the other 5? If it wasn’t for Babar, Pakistan could never post 200+ in the second ODI against Sri Lanka.
If being selfish takes you from 79 for 5 in the 20th over, then Babar really did much better than many others would. At least he has contributed for the team with the 2 two centuries in the last two matches. Babar has scored 7 centuries in his ODI career so far and out of when ever he has reached the milestone of scoring a hundred, Pakistan has won 6 times out of it.Being selfish isn’t a crime either. Sometimes you have to be selfish when half of the batting line-up is sent back to the pavilion below 100. He’s been a very decent player so far in his career. Judging off two slow innings is wrong and sometimes criticism hits the players more hard than we think. You can either waste your time trying to prove him a selfish and a low strike-rate batsman or you can enjoy Pakistani cricket.