Of all the players who first appeared – even at a very young age in their careers – on that trip to England ten years ago, Azhar Ali seemed unlikely to be there. Umar Akmal had only five Tests and there were 129 + 75 + 46 + 52 +0 + 77 + 51 + 27 + 49 + 49 + 8 + 15 tests. Umar Amin was a left-handed man with Muhammad Amir, so Imran Khan told us, that he was better than Wasim Akram at the time and Azhar Ali Survived.
However Azhar is not just going back to where he started, ten years now he is at the end of a very good career. Only a handful of batsmen have gotten more runs than he has since and three of them are working full time.
If he looked a little unlikely it could have been because he didn’t do well – he was the second-highest scorer in Pakistan in those two Test matches and his 50th – 51 and 92 * – were the lowest. It wasn’t that he didn’t look like a part, however, maybe that’s a little: ESPN Cricinfo football data looks like he had 85% of the ball he was facing but thinking back now, he’ll look into the opposition there’s an extra digit lost there. The lasting memory belongs to the doubled Azhar Ali Survived beaten, a slight movement of the feet as if to move his feet, he may remove a mine or two.
No, it was also the kind of sharp and credible struggle that Pakistani cricket lost easily. Lack of aggression, lack of talent, lack of character, lack of ambition, unwillingness to make enough noise with apparent injustice, all qualities are often mistaken for cricketing talent in Pakistan.
He was lucky that he was about to enter the Pakistani cricket era unlike any of his predecessors, which informed him of the lack of that. Gradually, increasingly and under the direction of caution, his beatings grew until he became an integral part of the Misbah-ul-Haq years, at the center of some of its best competitions.
And if you look back now it makes sense that when he was done with that summer, it was him. Because it was a rough trip, not least on the pitch where the ball turned as it rarely since then. Off the field does not need to be repeated here. The average XI age that took the field against Australia in the first Test of that summer – the start of Azhar – was 25 years. Azhar was 25 years old. He is the only survivor and it is not uncommon for a ‘survivor’ to feel more deserving of a word in a sports context than you do in that type of context. This summer should have come with a support team, players, and fans alike.
“I’ve learned to face the challenge, that’s a big deal,” he said, before the day of the Old Trafford Test against England. “If your first trip was a challenge, and I was against the top two, for me, I thought I’d play the toughest cricket there is, now I can build on that.
“I participated in two outcomes and it gave me the belief that if I did well there, in those cases, then I could overcome many challenges anywhere. yourself and then have doubts. But I got support and eventually, that trip became a guide for my career. “
You’re right. What would be difficult after that? Not playing at home. Pfft, finished. Jobs, everyone has it. Playing Tests again after a long gap, as happened to many after this epidemic? Azhar is the only Test player from a non-Premier League member – the five-month gap is very common every year (although in some years he likes to get competitive cricket
Captain? No matter how qualified or not you are, as an experience, it will not be the same as the two who caught him on that journey. Or the future captain who also first appeared on his first Test. And remember that this is still, indeed, the Misbah period, so there is a measure of stability outside and outside the stadium, whether it is trading in a strange (Misbah) election and a (Azhar) toxic captain.
It says something about the success of Azhar’s work later, that he comes back now with a small amount of dissatisfaction with it. Post-MisYou for years, as he has admitted many times, has not been good. It has been twice as frustrating not because he was expected to close that gap, but because he had closed that gap. Two years before their retirement, he had many runs, hundreds of runs and a better average than both of them. After the Australian tour of 2016-17, his average was 47. We are now in a slightly quiet place, not unlike his first trip. He needs runs and doesn’t look like he can make too many but Azhar Ali Survived.
Let’s revisit that previous table, of the best riders, from its inception. The number to be considered there is not a run, or hundreds or average. The six beats are fun because they hit harder than Hashim Amla and Kane Williamson.
But 14,129 are the ones to watch out for, the balls they face, mostly to anyone other than Alastair Cook. He faces one more ball than Joe Root, who has played 26 innings. On average, he faces 96.12 balls every time he hits, third behind Steve Smith and Cheteshwar Pujara (since the start of Azhar, and played 100 innings).
There are no numbers that take the context of Azhar like these, and we are still around all this time later, the storm that passed to live otherwise.