Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar recently got under fire after he criticised skipper Babar Azam over his lack of communication skills. He had stated that Babar can never become a “brand” in Pakistan as he cannot speak proper English in front of the media. Shoaib received a lot backlash from the fans and some former players for his statement as they insisted that a player should be judged only on his cricketing skills and not on the basis of his language. As the eighth edition of the Pakistan Super League in going on, Akhtar once again took an indirect dig on Babar after wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan played a match-winning knock for Islamabad United in a match against Karachi Kings.
Chasing 202 against Karachi, Azam Khan played an unbeaten knock of 72 off 41 balls as the United registered a six-wicket win in their previous PSL match. After the match, Shoaib praised Azam on Suno News for his knock and said, “I found Azam Khan as a responsible guy who can build the innings, not just slog. He spoke smartly in the interview as well, and it felt nice to hear him speak like that as he talked about his performance. When I was playing 20 years ago, I didn’t care how I spoke. But in today’s era, being in media is a part of your job. I can only indicate and pin-point for you, ‘this is a problem, please go and correct it. It’s for your own benefit’. He (Azam) looked like a captaincy material with the way he spoke.”
Akhtar further took a dig at Babar’s ‘ICC Player of the Year’ award, which he had won earlier this year, and said, “When Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shahid Afridi, and Abdul Razzaq used to play, they would say, ‘the whole ground and its crowd is mine. I control the atmosphere in this place’. And Azam was controlling that. That’s how you become a star. It’s not just about winning ICC Player of the Year awards, no no. The things Azam did… crowd backed him, he took their ownership. He was like, ‘I’m here to run the show.”
Earlier, Akhtar had also backed spinner Shahab Khan to replace Babar Azam as the captain of the national side in the future.
“Shadab is a very smart kid when it comes to cricket skills. He wants to improve, which is a very good thing. He is ready to accept his mistakes and rectify them. In past two years, he has worked very hard on his bowling and his fitness has improved as well. He wants to look good and speak well. In times to come, he is not a bad option for captaincy for Pakistan in white-ball cricket,” Akhtar was quoted as saying by Cricket Pakistan.
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