Saturday May 30, 2020
Pakistan’s former batting coach Grant Flower believes the risks and rewards of captaincy are immense, and while it can propel some to greatness, it can also derail others – something he fears could be the case for Babar Azam if he is not careful of the politics so rife in Pakistan cricket.
Flower, who was with the national team from 2014 till last year, worked closely with Azam and is well aware of how gifted the Lahore-born is.
"The first time I saw him play and first time I worked with him, when I threw balls at him at the academy in Lahore, he picked up length so much quicker than the rest of the players and I think that's the hallmark of a great batsman,” the Zimbabwean is quoted as saying by Stats Perform News.
Azam, easily the most valuable player in Pakistan cricket, was recently made the captain of both the limited overs teams. Flower stopped short of saying that Azam was not built to lead but he did point out the dangerous territory his former pupil will now be treading.
"He's got a good cricketing brain but there's a lot of politics in Pakistan cricket and a lot of pressure from the public,” said Flower, who is now the batting coach of Sri Lankan team under former Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur.
"If you start losing, it's one thing being the best batsman but that will put pressure on your batting skills and it can all come tumbling down pretty quickly. We've seen with great players in the past the pressures that captaincy can bring, but some players get better and if he gets better than the world is his oyster. Time will tell,”
However, analysing purely on the basis of ability, he tipped Azam to have a long career that would see break many records.
"If you look at some of the best players in the world like Steve Smith, Virat Kohli et cetera, they pick up length really quickly and play the ball late, have a great eye and hand-eye coordination. He has that and I think he is going to break a lot of records,” he said.
"Even in T20 cricket he plays normal cricket shots and that is also the sign of a great player. As long as he stays humble, which I'm sure he will as he's a good bloke, there is no reason why he can't be one of the best and he already pretty much is."