Just days after taking over as the skipper and already being involved in a controversy, Babar Azam has declared Pakistan as the greatest cricket playing nation. The new skipper has attributed his remarks to the team's ability to win the 2009 T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy despite not playing much at home. Azam has also credited the team for managing to top the ICC Test Rankings. The Asian team did not play at home since 2009 until recently as several teams had refused to tour Pakistan citing security concerns.
Speaking about the possibilities of playing behind closed doors and the COVID impact on cricket in an interview with ESPN cricinfo, Azam expressed that it will be a challenge for the world to match Pakistan's 'behind-closed-door achievement.' He highlighted the need to embrace changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it is ironic that Pakistan played home cricket in front of almost empty stadiums and now the world is heading in that direction. He also remarked that players will need to get extra motivation to perform without any crowd and that he fears for growth and development of cricket.
Azam had recently been announced as the skipper of Pakistan in ODIs as the PCB announced its contract list. Babar Azam was appointed as Pakistan's T20I captain in October 2019 and lost his debut series away from home against Australia. Azam then led his side to the home T20I series against Bangladesh, which the hosts won 2-0 and the 25-year-old won the 'Player of the Series' award. Azam has been in sublime form over the past 15 months and was named in the ICC ODI XI for the second time in his career in 2019.
Soon after being announced as the skipper, former Pakistan player Tanvir Ahmed had suggested that Azam needs to improve his English and communication skills as the captain. The Pakistan captain, who ranks number one on ICC's Men's T20 batting rankings, hit back at the former player for his remarks and stated that his job is to play cricket rather than anything else.