Is Babar Azam Wearing Too Many Crowns?

Is Babar Azam Wearing Too Many Crowns?
Everything seems to be in Babar Azam’s bag right now. He is probably the greatest batsman the country has ever produced and he has rightly been given the reins to Karachi Kings for the Pakistan Super League (PSL), starting early next year.

The baton has been serenely handed to Azam, almost like a ceremonious change of guard. This completes the captain-ship ring for him: Pakistan Test, One Day International, T-20 captain, Central Punjab captain, and now Karachi Kings captain for the PSL.

Azam is one of the finest batsmen Pakistan has ever produced. He has the right balance of talent, composure, and technique. He has already been compared with greats like Hanif Mohammad and Javed Miandad. Some have even predicted that he will surpass the greats with the amount of talent he possesses.

In the past few years, Babar Azam has led the national team in all three formats despite the presence of more senior players in the team, especially Sarfaraz Ahmed as skipper in shorter formats. However, the unsuccessful test record of Ahmed paved the way for Azam. It seemed like an easy decision for the management considering Azam’s superfluous record as a player, and the policy of making a ‘future’ captain. Azam ticked all the boxes and took the reins from his seniors confidently.

With no leadership experience, Azam had many eyes on him. And after a few false starts, the series against South Africa gave him the boost he needed to be trusted as an unchallenged skipper and a reliable captain. During the series, Azam looked settled and any questions about him being able to withstand the pressure of being the captain in all three formats faded away - at least for a considerable amount of time.

Azam’s biggest challenge yet, has been leading in the T20 world cup. And here he delivered satisfying results. Under his leadership, the team defeated India. Understanding a bit of  ‘King’s Science’, there was little doubt left for Azam’s ascent in the Super League.

Since the inauguration of PSL, Karachi Kings has made the hastiest moves, spearheaded by its owner Salman Iqbal. It was quite a surprise, given the form and flare of the great batsman and particularly the superficiality and science of Karachi King’s owner, that Azam was not offered the captain-ship sooner.

It had, to some extent, to do with the sound leadership of his fellow cricketer Imad Wasim. Wasim made a difference with his acute decisions after the continuous failures of Karachi Kings despite being the most sought out team. Under Wasim, Karachi Kings managed to win the title in 2020. Even before the postponement due to Covid-19, under Wasim, the team was on the winning track and looked poised to win.

But after the demise of Dean Jones, Karachi King’s coach, and Herschelle Gibbs’ failed stint as coach, Karachi Kings was back to its normal faltering ways in the last year’s PSL. With the predictable ouster of Gibbs as a coach, Wasim has been asked to hand over the charge to his “brother” in a ceremonious manner.

Now, Babar Azam, who is the team’s major run-getter and has been playing since the second PSL, is responsible for being the best player and the captain. Although he is composed in any role, this will be a major test for Azam because unlike the settled Pakistan national team, the Karachi Kings have been through much hither and thither. Additionally, he is not technically as sound a captain, as he is a batsman.

Hence, there is the risk attached for his fifth uplift and the ring in the thumb. This could shake the balance that Azam is holding at the moment. This captaincy might be the start of doffing the many hats Babar Azam is wearing.

The writer can be reached at