Mahela Jayawardene chooses Babar Azam as one to dethrone Joe Root from top spot in ICC Test rankings

174
Mahela Jayawardene chooses Babar Azam as one to dethrone Joe Root from top spot in ICC Test rankings
Mahela Jayawardene chooses Babar Azam as one to dethrone Joe Root from top spot in ICC Test rankings

Mahela Jayawardene chooses Babar Azam as one to dethrone Joe Root from top spot in ICC Test rankings

ICC Test Rankings: Legendary Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene believes that Pakistan’s Babar Azam can dethrone England’s Joe Root as the best batsman in Test cricket.

Since June of this year, Root has ruled at the top of the Test batter rankings, and he has been in excellent form recently. His performance has improved since Brendon McCullum became the new Test head coach. He won the ICC Men’s Test Player of the Year title in 2021 and has scored more runs in Tests than anybody else this decade. Also he has played nine matches and totaled 927 runs, with a best score of 176, for an average of 61.80. He has one fifty and five hundreds.

Jayawardene feels that Azam is the player most likely to succeed him as the leader going forward.

“Tough one! I would say Babar Azam has an opportunity. He has been consistent in all three formats and it shows in his rankings. He is a naturally gifted player, plays in all conditions, he has got the game to adapt as well. It depends on the amount of cricket, who is playing when and how much but the Babar might be the guy,” said Jayawardene on ICC Review.

Babar presently holds the top two slots in white-ball cricket and the third spot in tests, making him the only batter to be ranked in the top three in every cricket format.

Mahela Jayawardene chooses Babar Azam as one to dethrone Joe Root from top spot in ICC Test rankings
Mahela Jayawardene chooses Babar Azam as one to dethrone Joe Root from top spot in ICC Test rankings

Babar has scored 661 runs in five Test matches this year. With a top score of 196 and an average of 73.44. He has two century and four half-centuries to his credit.

“T20Is and ODIs, it is tough one to hold on to because there are a lot of good players who have to be consistent. As long as he can be that, because he has a very good role to play in that Pakistan setup – they have batters to bat around him, so he can play his own game – he should be able to hold on to that and at the same time, push himself to get better. He batted really well in Sri Lanka. I think Prabath (Jayasuriya) was his nemesis – he got him three times out of the four innings. That was a very good battle to watch. Babar got a really good hundred in the first Test match,” said Jayawardene.

“He is always going to push himself to get better. Seen in a couple of his interviews recently that it is his goal as well to be No.1 across the table. There’s no harm in challenging yourself to get there. Being the captain as well, he has taken responsibility and performed, which is great to see. (It is) Not an easy thing to do. I would put my money on him at least for a little while to hold to all three. But there are some good quality players around who will keep pushing him,” he added.

The Pakistani captain’s use of his time when he is at the crease impresses the Sri Lankan.

“(I) think it is just the technique, the time that he has. And the composure that he has out there in the middle. He is not rattled at any time, whether he plays T20Is, ODIs or Tests, he adjusts quite brilliantly. Joe (Root) in Test cricket is the same. He knows what he needs to do, he can the tempo when he wants to, bats to what the conditions offer. Babar has that same quality, so that’s why he’s been so consistent in all three formats,” he said.

In December, when England visits Pakistan for a three-match Test series, the two stars will square off. Babar will have to wait until a series against England later in the year to make his case. While Root gets a series against South Africa to firmly establish his top status.