Babar Azam Used to Empty Stands

Pakistan limited-overs captain Babar Azam on Monday said no one understands better than them how it is to play in front of empty stands having gone through a similar experience while playing almost all their ‘home’ matches in the three cricket centres in the United Arab Emirates in the last 10 years.

Test cricket returned to Pakistan last year in December, almost 11 years since the Lahore terror attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team’s coach and security convoy killed six policemen and two civilians, while leaving the reserve umpire and seven Sri Lanka players wounded.

Before that, there have been 12 T20 internationals and six ODIs split between Karachi and Lahore but mostly the team had to adopt Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi as their ‘home’.

Now with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing life to a standstill, there is talk of resuming cricket behind closed doors.

Babar Azam.

“No one knows better than us what it is to play without crowd. We have played 10 years in Dubai without almost any crowd. So we can understand how it is to play without crowd. So it will be difficult for fans and for us too. We will miss it,” Azam told local media via video conferencing which was shared by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Asked about the chances of the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia being held behind closed doors, and how that will be, Babar said: “The rules will be the same for everyone. It will be difficult, without shining the ball, not celebrating and not going close to each other.

“But these are social distancing norms and it won’t be just for us. It will be the same for all. It will take time to adjust. You will not get the same fun as you get to perform in front of packed crowd.”

Babar, who was made captain of the ODI side recently and has been the T20 skipper, said he wants the T20 World Cup to happen as it will be his first as a player and leader.

“As far as (T20) World Cup is concerned, it will be my first World Cup as player and captain so I would want the World Cup to take place.”

Asked about his captaincy role and whether it will affect his batting, the number one ranked T20 batsman said: “I am ready for the challenge. See PCB felt that I am capable of taking the responsibility and they gave me. I am ready for it.

“I love taking challenges. During batting I think of batting only. So after that, I think of captaincy and how to get the best out of your players. I don’t mix and match,” the 25-year old added.