ISLAMABAD: Batting legend Javed Miandad says that before handing over the Twenty20 reins to Babar Azam, it would have been better for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to groom the young batsman before handing him an important responsibility.

“Currently, Babar is the world’s top-ranked Twenty20 batsman. I fear his own [batting] performance may go down as the youngster lacks experience to lead the national side at his [T20] level,” Miandad told APP.

Right-handed Babar, 25, on Friday was named the national T20 captain until next year’s ICC T20 World Cup in Australia while Azhar Ali was appointed the captain for Pakistan’s World Test Championship matches in the 2019-20 season.

Babar, the mainstay of Pakistan batting these days, had led the country in the 2012 ICC U-19 World Cup. He was also vice-captain in the recently-concluded series against Sri Lanka and is leading Central Punjab in the ongoing National T20 Cup.

“Sarfraz should have been continued as captain for the [upcoming] series in Australia while Babar should have been assigned as his deputy [for the tour],” Miandad reckoned.

Pakistan’s demanding tour to Australia starts early next month.

The team play three T20 Internationals against Australia on Nov 3, 5 and 8 at Sydney, Canberra and Perth, respectively. The tourists then face the Aussies in two Tests in Brisbane (Nov 21-25) and Adelaide (Nov 29-Dec 3).

Miandad cited the example of Mike Brearley saying the former England skipper, who took over the captaincy in 1977, was not selected for the side until the age of 34 in 1976.

“His [Brearley] record in Test cricket as a batsman was modest [averaging 22.88 in 66 innings, without a century], but he was an outstanding captain. He was also a fine slip catcher, usually at first slip,” Miandad recalled.

“Though Sarfraz’s performance had gone down as a batsman but he was an excellent wicket-keeper and the PCB should have given him some time to recover,” insisted Miandad.

Miandad, who scored 8,832 runs in 124 Tests, said the PCB should rope in prominent former cricketers like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Mohammad and Sadiq Mohammad to improve the game.

“I think the PCB has overburdened Misbah-ul-Haq by assigning him the dual responsibility of head coach of all formats and chief selector. [Whereas] the Board needs to be a bit realistic and think out of the box by appointing a specialised batting coach for the shorter format,” Miandad said and reckoned Faisal Iqbal was the best choice as batting coach.

Miandad also urged the PCB to develop a variety of pitches at different stadiums around the country, to prepare the players for next year’s ICC T20 World Cup.

“Pitches should provide equal opportunities to batsmen as well as bowlers and should allow all disciplines in the game to flourish,” Miandad said.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019