While saying that he cannot change general perception of him being a defensive skipper, Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali on Thursday asserted that a leader is as good as his team and the conditions on offer and there has to be a balance to be successful.
Azhar took over as Test captain after Sarfaraz Ahmed was removed last year in October. Pakistan lost in Australia 0-2 in his first assignment but then won the home series against Sri Lanka 1-0 and the one-off Test against Bangladesh too.
“It is hard to change perception. Very soon we come to a conclusion and stick to it,” Azhar told local reporters via video conference when asked about popular perception of him being a defensive captain and coach Misbah-Ul-Haq also cut from the same cloth.
“I bat with composure and I take time that does not mean I am a defensive captain. If you see greatest captains and see teams…90s Australia and early 2000s they had bowlers who used to set fields themselves. They were so good. It is easier to do attacking captaincy with such a team. In Dubai, fast bowler is bowling you can’t keep four slips. In Pakistan also where conditions are flat you have to have balance,” said the 35-year old.
Azhar also elaborated on his long term goal with this side after leading them in five Tests.
“I am trying to get rid of the fear factor. They should play in free mind. That team culture needs to be developed. Every player should think about the team and there should be a relaxed atmosphere. You cannot perform under pressure and in level-headed approach, consistency will come. It will also help in decision making.”
Azhar also said the reason Pakistan cannot do well in countries like Australia, England South Africa and New Zealand is that bowlers fail to take wickets.
“Now teams are not doing well away. We have not done well in those countrie because, we performed decently but in Australia they make so many runs. If we don’t get early wickets it’s difficult to comeback.
“This time bowling attack did not have experience. But previously also if you see experienced bowlers have not done well,” he opined.
“We have to stop them from making bg runs. In South Africa, it was bowling friendly wickets but we lacked in batting and could not get them out. We need to get them out with our fast bowling. We score hundreds and get 300-plus totals. But we need to get them out to win in Australia and South Africa.”
On Pakistan youngsters not wanting to play Tests and keen on doing well in shorters formats, Azhar said Test selection can only happen if a player has done well in four-day cricket.
“Tests is a different format. We can’t judge a player based on his T20 performance. You can gauge player temperament but performance has to be backed with four-day cricket.”