Matter of time before Babar Azam becomes No.1 ranked Test batter, says Ricky Ponting
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has said that Babar Azam will soon become the number one ranked Test batter in the world as he has all the desired qualities.
Pakistan will next face Australia in a three-match Test series, which will begin on March 4 in Rawalpindi. In January, Babar Azam was named the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year, beating out Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, South African batter Janneman Malan, and Ireland opener Paul Stirling.
“He (Babar Azam) has been great in T20I cricket in the past as well, hasn’t he? His white-ball cricket has been nothing short of breathtakingly good for the last four-five years. He’s the same as Shaheen. I don’t get to see a lot of these guys outside of when they tour Australia, but when I saw Babar in the second innings in Brisbane in the first Test against Australia, some of the shots that I saw him play on a fast bouncy Brisbane pitch – both on the front and back foot – against Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins – it was like, I have heard a lot about him and I have seen a fair bit of his while-ball stuff, but this guy is the real deal,” said Ponting on ICC’s Review Show.
“I think I said then that for this guy, the sky is the limit. It’s only a matter of time I felt before he was going to be either the No.1-ranked Test batter in the world or certainly challenging for it. He’s probably challenging for that position right now and probably. If he had played a few more Test matches through the last couple of years he’d be knocking the door down for that,” he added.
Azam finished 2021 with 405 runs, averaging 67.50 runs per game. His 158, despite coming in a losing cause, was a masterclass in ODI innings construction. After taking 72 balls to reach fifty, he accelerated in the second half of the innings, culminating with a career-best score of 139 runs in only 139 balls.
“He’s a beautiful player, simple as that. The thing I always look for with these younger type of batters. If they can play well off the back foot in Australia. And particularly through the off-side with a straight bat – which is probably an area. That Joe Root hasn’t quite got on top of just yet. And why he hasn’t made those big scores in Australia,” said Ponting.
“Babar did that and hit on the front foot back down the ground as well. These are just things that I look for as markers and indicators in touring batters. When they come to Australia and Babar he ticked both those boxes,” he added.