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  1. #1
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    "Babar Azam has what it takes to become one of the greats" : Nasser Hussain

    Known for his forthright views and his deep insight into the game, former England captain and current television pundit Nasser Hussain had a ringside view of Pakistanís tour of England earlier this year.

    In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net Hussain spoke about Pakistan's decision to tour England during the Coronavirus Pandemic, his views on what Azhar Ali needs to do to preserve his position as Pakistan Test captain, what Babar Azam should be aiming for to becoming a great of the game, how impressed he is with Shaheen Shah Afridi and the importance of England's proposed tour of Pakistan.





    PakPassion.net: How impressed were you that Pakistan toured England at such a difficult time?

    Nasser Hussain:
    I was hugely impressed that they came over to England when the virus had really taken-off here and when some of the press reports coming out of the UK would have made shocking reading in Pakistan. Firstly, the West Indies and then Pakistan to come to England and spend so long in a bio-secure bubble away from their families for so long was incredible and the sacrifices they made were truly exceptional.


    PakPassion.net: Where do you think Pakistan fell short in England?

    Nasser Hussain:
    The standard of cricket produced by Pakistan was exceptional. However, where they fell short was in the second innings at Old Trafford and even in that game Pakistan were bossing it and they just needed to finish off with one substantial score from one of their batsmen such as Babar Azam in the second innings. Had they done that they would have had a substantial lead which would have left England with too many to chase. But even from the position they were in when Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler got together, Pakistan were in a strong position and should have won and probably gone on to win the series.


    PakPassion.net: What did you make of Azhar Aliís batting during the Test series?

    Nasser Hussain:
    He played a good knock at the end of the series, but he needed to get his head down and should have got more runs earlier in the series when they were much needed. He had the experience of playing previously in England but was struggling with his technique and LBWs, but it was nice to see him make the required changes and solve that problem.


    PakPassion.net: There are some rumours that Azhar Ali should be replaced as Pakistan Test skipper. Do you think that would be justified?

    Nasser Hussain:
    Itís part and parcel of being a Pakistan captain and it goes with the territory. If you have a couple of quiet series, the pressure mounts on you. He has captained the side very well, heís a good diplomat of the game and heís a good guy who you want to do well. He is a good captain, but itís essential that two disciplines as a skipper have to go well, either you have to win series, or you have to get a lot of runs. At the beginning of the England tour he was doing neither so the pressure mounted. What he has to do now is to get his head down and get runs; if he can get runs then I think his captaincy is fine and he should stay in the job.


    PakPassion.net: How highly do you rate Babar Azam?

    Nasser Hussain:
    Babar has what it takes to become one of the greats. In white-ball cricket heís up there with the best of them. Heís up near the top of the rankings in T20Is, and in fifty over cricket he is exceptional too. He did OK in the Test series against England bearing in mind England is not an easy place to come and play Test cricket. He just needs that consistency in Test cricket to be up there with the likes of Virat Kohli. Babarís done that for 6 to 9 months so far, he just needs to be consistent for a longer period of time.

    He does have a slight technical problem in the area just outside off stump, a little bit like Kohli had when he first came to England and he was found out. Babarís a wonderful player and batting isnít just about the amount of runs you get, itís about the way you get them and when Babarís batting well heís so pleasing on the eye, heís an aesthetically pleasing player. Heís an outstanding player, make no mistake and heís just got to make sure that if he wants to be a great of the game and heís pushing that, and for that you have to be consistent all over the world and get runs in all conditions.


    PakPassion.net: What were your impressions of Shaheen Shah Afridi?

    Nasser Hussain:
    Heís inexperienced and is learning his way in international cricket. I was impressed with Shaheen and I like his attitude and the way he runs in all day. If there is one asset that he can pick from Wasim Akram then itís to swing that new ball from outside off stump. He swings it from straight and swings it down the leg side, but if he could swing it from outside the off stump that would make him a tougher proposition for batsmen.

    He was a handful for left-handers because of his line and he was swinging it from their off stump. If he could swing it in from just outside the right-handers off stump that would be very effective. I think thereís a technical area lacking there, whether it be going a little bit round arm or his use of the crease. But his pace was up in England and I was very impressed with him.


    PakPassion.net: In contrast with Shaheen Shah Afridi, did Naseem Shah fall short of expectations?

    Nasser Hussain:
    I must admit that I was less impressed with Naseem Shah, but that may be due to the way he was used. He had to be used like England use Jofra Archer Ė short, sharp bursts. Look at the game at Old Trafford, Naseem went a long time without bowling when he should have been the go-to bowler for short, sharp spells. Chris Woakes came into bat at Old Trafford at a time when he had been struggling for runs and had been having a hard time against the short ball. I thought Naseem was being saved to have a go at Woakes but he was never really used for that. He has the asset of pace, is skiddy and has an aggressive nature. Heís learning and if given time to grow, he will be a very fine asset for Pakistan. Iíd like him to get closer to the stumps when he bowls as he was bowling from a bit too wide of the crease. Both Naseem and Shaheen need to be constantly worked with regarding their technique so they need some good bowling coaches working with them all of the time.


    PakPassion.net: Do you think Mohammad Amir has made the right decision regarding his retirement from Test cricket?

    Nasser Hussain:
    Just like Pakistani fans I was disappointed by his decision to retire from Tests because I felt there was so much more that he could give. I know his statistics were going in the wrong direction, it wasnít going right for him and he had injuries and then like any other cricketer he had to decide what he was willing to put his body through and what was the best route for him.

    As a cricketer, retirement from certain forms of the game is the only thing you are really in control of. Other people are in control of when you get axed and when you get left out, so Iím never overly critical of when people retire either from the game completely or from certain formats, because only you know what you are going through physically and the sacrifices you have had to make. But having missed 5 years, you would think that he would want to make up for lost time and play as much cricket as possible and then if you are left out you can say, well I made myself available.

    Iíve been a massive fan of Mohammad Amir and he has bowled some wonderful spells such as that one in the Champions Trophy final. When heís bowling well and swinging it thereís no greater sight in white-ball cricket, but heís not quite done it in Test cricket on a consistent level. His decision was disappointing, but only Amir knows his body and his mind really. But if you are going to retire from a format then you have to make sure you come back strong in the formats that you are playing and you give it absolutely everything in white-ball cricket. So, if he is going to focus on white-ball cricket, letís hope his statistics and his performances go up.


    PakPassion.net: An England tour of Pakistan in the New Year would be great news for Pakistan and world cricket wouldnít it?

    Nasser Hussain:
    Absolutely. The hurdles to this tour are not insurmountable, but with Covid-19 active in both countries, everyone will have to put that into the equation now. Letís hope the infection rate falls in England and they get the go-ahead to proceed and then vice-versa, letís hope the Covid-19 rates stay low in Pakistan.

    But most importantly security issues have to be looked into, however much Pakistan want England to come over. The security and safety of the players is of paramount importance. If these two boxes are ticked, then I think in the present climate you have to put it to the players and the players have to be given the final say. They are grown adults and they have to make the decision on whether they will go and are willing to take any risks. However, once those decisions are made, I think ECBís decision to start talks about the tour will be a good one and I for one am hoping that the visit goes ahead and because it will be great for Pakistan and for world cricket. The simple fact is that Pakistan needs cricket back at home and I really hope the tour by England goes ahead.


    PakPassion.net: Would you be prepared to go to Pakistan if England agree to the tour?

    Nasser Hussain:
    If those two boxes are ticked, I would have no problems going out to Pakistan and commenting there as Iíve not done that in Pakistan. I have been there as a player, but Iíve not been to Pakistan as a commentator so thatís a box that I would like to tick. Itís a lovely country, Iíve always enjoyed touring Pakistan and for obvious reasons I have some very fond memories of Pakistan.


    PakPassion.net: How tough is the bio-secure environment for the players and everyone else involved?

    Nasser Hussain:
    For the commentators it was tough-ish, but it wasnít dreadful as we were just pleased to be having cricket back. We could pop in, do a week and then see our families for a few days, then go in again, get tested and start again for the next match. But for the players it was a lot harder, they were in there for months on end and itís like anything else, if you are doing well, playing well, itís not so much of an issue. But if you are struggling, not playing or not getting any runs or wickets, you open the curtains and you are there on the edge of the cricket field, then you do worry about the mental health of the players. It is something that has to be looked into because it is not something that is a one-off, as you could be going from one bio-secure environment to another one and it could become an issue. In the present climate, this definitely needs looking at.


    PakPassion.net: The accusations by Azeem Rafiq have been an eye-opener for many. Has racism been something you experienced in cricket?

    Nasser Hussain:
    I encountered very little racism at Essex. Growing up as a young boy in Ilford having been born in India and having a surname of Hussain and a first name of Nasser I did encounter some name-calling due to ignorance.

    I was lucky enough to play at a club like Essex where we had a middle order of Nadeem Shahid, Saleem Malik and myself. We had a very multi-cultural county in the south of our county at Ilford where I grew up with my dad and his cricket school where we had a British West Indian net, British Indian net and a British Pakistani net and we would all take the mickey out of each other when India were playing Pakistan, or England were losing to the West Indies. It was great banter and it was fun. I grew up in that multi-cultural environment and I was very fortunate. But I understand that I was a white-ish middle-class, public school educated boy so I canít put myself in the shoes of some of the British Asians that are growing up in certain parts of the UK.


    PakPassion.net: The numbers of BAME cricketers in County cricket make for painful reading donít they?

    Nasser Hussain:
    I did some research recently on the amount of ethnic minority cricketers in County cricket and the numbers are still very, very low. Thereís a lot of work to be done and the ECB are putting in a lot of work and effort into working with the British Asian communities so letís see how that goes. Letís give them time even though theyíve had a lot of time over the years. Recently theyíve got a new campaign going out and the likes of Essex County cricket club are doing a lot of work in the East End of London, so thereís a lot of good work being done which I hope will produce better results.


    PakPassion.net: Jason Holder was recently critical of the lack of support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement after the completion of West Indies tour of England. Do you think more should have been done?

    Nasser Hussain:
    I was very supportive of it then, and still am very supportive of it and continue to wear my BLM badge throughout. But things like that donít have to come from above, things like that have to be an individual decision or a team decision. For example, Sky have never said to me put a BLM badge on, we want you to wear it, rather I just decided thatís what I was going to do so I was never under pressure to do that. I think itís up to the individual to make that decision throughout from now on in and for a team to make that decision as well. Jason Holder, like Michael Holding are well within their rights to pass comment on this topic. Itís not something that you just do for a couple of weeks and then forget about. That speech that Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent made had a huge impact and that impact has to stay for a long time as it wasnít just a few words that Mikey got off his chest. Itís something that we all have to think about and make positive moves to change for as long as we possibly can.


    PakPassion.net: Do you feel that having a cross-section of cultures has improved cricket broadcasting?

    Nasser Hussain:
    Absolutely. There are so many different things that commentators bring to the equation. I judge a broadcasting team on all the different things they can bring to the commentary box and when I walk in, I always look at the multi-cultural context. We need batsmen and bowlers, people from different eras. Donít just judge a broadcaster on how many Tests they played or how many wickets they took or what theyíve done on the cricket field, instead judge them on whether they are good at the job they are doing now or not.

    Diversity in the commentary box is a good thing and Iím not just talking about where people are from or the colour of their skin, I am talking about diversity in terms of batting, bowling, formats of the game and how much you have, or have not played the game. We had Stuart Broad on commentary this year and he appreciated the modern outlook on broadcasting and how much things have changed. So as a broadcaster, make sure whoever you are and whatever background you are from, that you stay up to date with the modern game and not just think well in my day thatís how we did it and nothing is going to change my mind on that.


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  2. #2
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    Class interview. Would be lovely to host Nasser in Pakistan should England tour.

  3. #3
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    Good interview and some impressive insights as always.

  4. #4
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    Nasser is usually unbearable when it comes to commenting on Pakistan cricket, but this was surprisingly refreshing for his usual standards.

    Of course apart from the usual of Pakistan doing England a favor by touring in the summer.
    Last edited by MenInG; 5th November 2020 at 12:12.

  5. #5
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    Great read.

  6. #6
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    Good Interview.


    Virat, ABD, KP and Sir Viv.

  7. #7
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    "He does have a slight technical problem in the area just outside off stump, a little bit like Kohli had when he first came to England and he was found out."

    He should have provided more details on this technical problem part.
    For me Babar is fine.


    Virat, ABD, KP and Sir Viv.

  8. #8
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by King_Kohli View Post
    "He does have a slight technical problem in the area just outside off stump, a little bit like Kohli had when he first came to England and he was found out."

    He should have provided more details on this technical problem part.
    For me Babar is fine.
    I agree with him he gets squared on to much early on

  10. #10
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    Former England captain Nasser Hussain has said that he was lucky enough to have been brought up as a white-ish middle class in a multi-racial society and play his cricket in a multi-cultural club like Essex that ensured that he experienced very little racism. "I encountered very little racism at Essex. Growing up as a young boy in Ilford having been born in India and having a surname of Hussain and the first name of Nasser I did encounter some name-calling due to ignorance," Hussain told PakPassion.net

    "I was lucky enough to play at a club like Essex where we had a middle-order of Nadeem Shahid, Saleem Malik and myself. We had a very multi-cultural county in the south of our county at Ilford where I grew up with my dad and his cricket school where we had a British West Indian net, British Indian net and a British Pakistani net and we would all take the mickey out of each other when India were playing Pakistan, or England were losing to the West Indies. It was great banter and it was fun," he said.

    Hussain said he was fortunate enough to have come from a white-ish middle-class, privileged background. "I grew up in that multi-cultural environment and I was very fortunate. But I understand that I was a white-ish middle-class, public school educated boy so I can't put myself in the shoes of some of the British Asians that are growing up in certain parts of the UK," he said.

    Hussain also said that Pakistan batting mainstay Babar Azam has the potential to end up as one of the greats. "Babar has what it takes to become one of the greats. In white-ball cricket he is up there with the best of them. He is up near the top of the rankings in T20Is, and in fifty over cricket he is exceptional too," Hussain pointed out.

    "He did okay in the Test series against England bearing in mind England is not an easy place to come and play Test cricket. He just needs that consistency in Test cricket to be up there with the likes of Virat Kohli. Babar's done that for six to nine months so far. He just needs to be consistent for a longer period of time."

    https://www.timesnownews.com/sports/...hussain/677991


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post




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    How much more consistency nasser? the poor lad is averaging 60 plus in last two years, I agree he started poorly but right now across formats his record is on par with kohli if not better for last two years and counting. And it's frightening that his peak years are still ahead of him. So cut him some slack.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeshan547 View Post
    How much more consistency nasser? the poor lad is averaging 60 plus in last two years, I agree he started poorly but right now across formats his record is on par with kohli if not better for last two years and counting. And it's frightening that his peak years are still ahead of him. So cut him some slack.
    2 years of consistency isn't something that makes players great. Marlon Samuels had 2 great years in 2011-2013 yet he didn't end up as a great. A champion player yes, but not one of the great batters

    Babar needs to keep doing it for 5-6 years to get up there.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeshan547 View Post
    How much more consistency nasser? the poor lad is averaging 60 plus in last two years, I agree he started poorly but right now across formats his record is on par with kohli if not better for last two years and counting. And it's frightening that his peak years are still ahead of him. So cut him some slack.
    High average does not mean high impact. Babar needs to score daddy hundreds away from home to be counted among the best.

  14. #14
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    The Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam debate refuses to die. The Pakistan captain has risen to unprecedented heights in all formats to enter the ‘Fab-Five’ bracket which not too long ago was the “Big Four,” comprising Kohli, Steve Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson. Many former cricketers have weighed in on the Kohli vs Azam debate such as Inzamam Ul Haq, Younis Khan and Wasim Akram to name a few, and the latest to add to the topic is former England captain Nasser Hussain.

    Azam has a fine record in all three formats, averaging over 55 in ODIs, almost 50 in T20Is and 45.55 in Tests. Hussain acknowledged Babar as a formidable limited-overs but believes the Pakistan captain has to do a bit more to do in Test matches in order to be fairly compared to his Indian counterpart.

    “Babar has what it takes to become one of the greats. In white-ball cricket he’s up there with the best of them. He’s up near the top of the rankings in T20Is, and in fifty over cricket he is exceptional too. He did OK in the Test series against England bearing in mind England is not an easy place to come and play Test cricket,” Hussain told PakPassion.net

    “He just needs that consistency in Test cricket to be up there with the likes of Virat Kohli. Babar’s done that for 6 to 9 months so far, he just needs to be consistent for a longer period of time.”

    The cricket fraternity stands divided when it comes to the Kohli vs Azam debate, but many reckon that the comparison doesn’t completely make sense given the fact that the Pakistan captain is six years younger and started his career long after Kohli did. Hussain agrees to it, even highlighting a technical flaw in Azam, which reminds the former England captain of Kohli.

    “He [Babar] does have a slight technical problem in the area just outside off stump, a little bit like Kohli had when he first came to England and he was found out,” Hussain added.

    “Babar’s a wonderful player and batting isn’t just about the amount of runs you get, it’s about the way you get them and when Babar’s batting well he’s so pleasing on the eye. He’s an aesthetically pleasing player. He’s an outstanding player, make no mistake and he’s just got to make sure that if he wants to be a great of the game and he’s pushing that, and for that you have to be consistent all over the world and get runs in all conditions.”

    https://www.hindustantimes.com/crick...T2IUJwpqO.html


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  15. #15
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    Probably the most impactless great.


    It is either a heartache or a headache ..Argh relationships.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JibranAnsari View Post
    Probably the most impactless great.
    Wao what an insight, as if The Mr Impact full Kohli has cabinet filled of trophies due to his performances.

  17. #17
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    By consistency perhaps he means just in terms of more years at high performance- as Smith and Kohli have done.

    He has the potential, absolutely. But he can't seriously be talked about as a great batsman with only 5 centuries to his name & 3 of them in Pakistan. He just needs to build that resume a bit. He has plenty of time.

    It is not Pakistans fault entirely (other nations share equal blame) but they need their board to push for more tests- 3 test series, never a 2 match series. Negotiate for 4 tests if there are 3. May not get it every time but every extra test is a win.

    Pakistan just play less test matches than other top nations so they are just in the eye of the media and fans less and the stats don't stack as high on sheer volume

  18. #18
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    Let's celebrate the fact that we have a young man who has excelled and is challenging the top players. Only time will tell Whether he becomes one for the ages but I, along with countless others enjoys his batting and as he showed in England, he can also tough it out.

  19. #19
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    Babar continues to do well but not able to finish.


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  20. #20
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    Babar is amazing- it's definitely a Fab 5 now (or if we want to keep it as 4, Babar may have displaced Root). He is a run-machine, but he needs to finish matches more often, as others have said. That's what really separates him from Kohli, Williamson, and Smith right now.


  21. #21
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    Completely agree, some people out here piling demands for him as if he's Lalu Khan Sahab taking your order at a restaurant. He won't be perfect, so rather than ask him to do something he might not be able to (power-hitting, finishing games with 200+ SR, etc.), focus on making him better at what he is. And please find some players in the middle order that can clear the fence, having just one won't do the trick. At least 2 are needed.

  22. #22
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    Babar will literally have to carry Karachi to the trophy it seems.


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