Babar is right up there with the best in the world: Yousuf

The former batsman was hopeful that Azam's career would go from strength to strength

Babar is right up there with the best in the world: Yousuf PHOTO: AFP/File

Pakistan’s former batsman Mohammad Yousuf has praised the performance of batsman Babar Azam and claimed that the latter was on his way to becoming one of the best in the world.

Yousuf hoped that Babar would eventually make his mark on the longer format of the game, which he claimed was the most important version of the game.

“His [Babar’s] performance is right up there with the best in the world. He is at number three in ODIs and number one in T20Is. I would just advice and request him to give importance to the longer format the way major players such as Kohli, Smith, Williamson and Root do,” Yousuf said. “You can only make your name through the longer format. At this time Smith is on top because of his performances in the longer format. The media of the entire world is praising him for his performances because Test cricket is the hardest form of cricket. Your skills, your fitness, your mental level and everything else is tested in it.”

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Yousuf stated that the best players in the world performed in both Test cricket as well as the Twenty20 (T20) format.

“Babar Azam plays very well in the limited-overs cricket. He will definitely improve in the Test format as well. He has played some good innings recently in South Africa and then he went on to score a century against New Zealand in Tests,” he said.

The 45-year-old claimed that Babar was the best player in Pakistan and also expressed hope that opener Sharjeel Khan would eventually make his way back into the national side.

“Babar will have to improve his performance in Test cricket. Right now, he is the best player in Pakistan cricket. There is no one better than him. I hope Sharjeel gets a chance to play again. Anyone can make a mistake. We gave a chance to Amir. We should also give him a chance. He was a player who could prove good in all formats of the game,” he said.

Yousuf criticised the appointment of the head coach-cum-chief selector Misbahul Haq and claimed that he did not have the skills necessary to hold the position.

“They have made a mockery of merit in this case. If you look at the limited-overs cricket he has played, he didn’t have the skills for it. He had a one dimensional game. He would either defend or if a spinner came on, he would hit,” he said. “He talks about honesty, but you can see his hypocrisy in the fact that he kept [batsman] Azhar Ali out of the One-day International (ODI), even though he was a better player than Misbah. He was also in the committee that removed the coaches. He pushed the most to remove the entire coaching staff.”

The former right-handed batsman also claimed that Pakistan’s current bowling coach Waqar Younis would have been the ideal choice for the dual role of head coach-cum-chief selector of the national side.

“The players who have the skills can go on to coach a team. This is the first time I have seen that an individual can become coach and selector without the skills necessary,” he said. “If they had brought Waqar [bhai] in as coach, selector and bowling coach I would have still thought that merit exists. Waqar [bhai] is a big player and makes his way on merit.”

The 45-year-old was baffled by the decision of Younis to work as a bowling coach under the leadership of Misbah.

“It is baffling that Waqar [bhai] is working under Misbah. I would have agreed with the decision if the person involved had skills. If you are working under someone who has no skills it hurts your own credibility as well,” he said.

Yousuf stated that honesty and merit were the most important factors for progress but lamented the lack of the two concepts in the structure of Pakistan cricket.

“All of us want Pakistan cricket to progress. The most important aspect for progress is honesty and merit, which has not been shown thus far. But we still pray for Pakistan that they perform well,” he concluded.