Pakistan's head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has backed Babar Azam to succeed as the national team's ODI and T20 captain despite former batting coach Grant Flower expressing concerns over his ability to handle the pressure that comes with the job. Misbah said the 25-year-old Azam has shown he is capable of dealing with the expectations. "Making Babar captain of the T20 team last year was a tester really. We wanted to see how he will respond to the challenge and how it will affect his batting," Misbah said in an interview.
"But all of us agreed that he handled the pressure well and if anything the responsibility of being captain only made him show more responsibility as a batsman," he added.
Azam was given leadership of Pakistan's ODI team earlier this month. Flower, who worked with the Pakistan team as batting coach from 2014 till after last year's World Cup, expressed concerns about Azam's capability to captain in two formats and be the team's best batsman as well. "He's got a good cricketing brain but there's a lot of politics in Pakistan cricket and a lot of pressure from the public," Flower was quoted as saying by Stats Perform News.
"If you start losing, it's one thing being the best batsman but that will put pressure on your batting skills and it can all come tumbling down pretty quickly.
"We've seen with great players in the past the pressures that captaincy can bring, but some players get better and if he gets better than the world is his oyster. Time will tell," he added.
However, former Pakistan captain Misbah said Azam's batting has already scaled a different level during the tour of Australia last year. "That is why we decided to also give him the responsibility of leading the ODI team. I think he is ready for the challenge and he should thrive as the team's top batsman as well."
Misbah didn't agree with Flower's assertion of politics in Pakistan cricket and pressure from the public. "The way I look at it, being a top batsman he is best suited to lead the team by example and this would make it easier for him to also take strong decisions and for the team to follow him," Misbah said.