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Pakistan v England 2022/23

Nasser Hussain: Babar Azam didn’t have a ‘Plan B’ – the difference between him and Ben Stokes is stark

Pakistan Test captain Babar Azam and Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Nasser Hussain has criticised Babar Azam’s captaincy for being too orthodox, saying that “the difference between the captains [Babar and Ben Stokes] has been stark”.

England have claimed an unassailable 2-0 lead in their Test series in Pakistan, and claimed a 50-run lead in the third Test, recovering from 145-5 to post 354 at Karachi.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hussain criticised Babar’s approach for being too one-dimensional, and relying too heavily on spin pair Nauman Ali and Abrar Ahmed, who bowled 64.4 of the 81.4 overs between them. “I thought they had a coherent plan, but it was only a ‘Plan A’,” he said. “It was almost like, ‘this will spin so Nauman Ali and Abrar Ahmed will be our two wickets and we’ll bowl them out’. And when it didn’t spin as much, he didn’t have a Plan B, he didn’t go to Salman Agha.”


Hussain highlighted the difference in styles between Babar and Stokes, having praised the latter for “one of the greatest displays of captaincy” he had ever seen after the first Test at Rawalpindi.

“The difference between the captains has been stark, really,” he said. “Babar very orthodox, very… almost textbook. ‘I’ll just bowl the bowlers that are my favourite bowlers that I think might get wickets’. Whereas Stokes is thinking out of the box all the time, he’ll throw the ball randomly to someone if he fancies it, a bit of gut feel. I didn’t feel Babar captained particularly well today, it was very orthodox.

“Once he got it reversing there was a bit better plan there. When Mohammad Wasim Jr. came from that end, then there was a plan. He could bowl him from that end and rotate the spinners this end. But the difference in the captaincies has been stark in this game and the whole series I would say.”

Babar has been Pakistan’s captain in all formats since late 2020. In that time, Pakistan have reached the semi-final and the final of the T20 World Cup and have won eight, drawn two and lost five Tests, including series defeats at home to Australia and England.

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