Babar Azam, Pakistan's all-format captain, has revealed that he carried out a ball-picker's responsibilities at the boundary during South Africa's tour of Pakistan back in 2007.
Speaking to Cricket Pakistan in a video interview, Babar Azam reflected on his inspiring journey from being a ball-picker to becoming Pakistan's Test captain nearly a decade and a half later.
“My cricket journey started back in 2007. I had passion for the game but I really wanted to see international stars playing in front of me. At the time, South African team was here so I asked someone to help me become a ball picker. I used to go daily from Gulberg to Gaddafi Stadium on foot to work as a ball-picker during the Lahore Test," said Babar Azam.
Babar Azam also recalls Inzamam-ul-Haq's farewell innings in the match where the legendary batsman fell short of becoming the then leading-scorer for Pakistan in Tests by two runs. The 26-year-old Babar Azam, who was only 12 then, also recollects how the former Pakistan skipper took out his frustration after missing out on the milestone:
"I remember watching Inzamam-ul-Haq’s farewell innings where he got out before breaking the record of the great Javed Miandad. I witnessed it live the way he went back to the dressing room and took his anger out."
"I used to closely watch AB de Villiers when he was batting or fielding": Babar Azam
Babar Azam revealed that he immensely admired AB de Villiers and used to stay close to the South African team's huddle when the Proteas were practicing.
The star batsman also helped the Pakistan batsmen in their pre-match knocking sessions and picked the red cherries from the other side of the boundary skirtings during the match. Babar Azam emphasizes that a lot of sacrifices and hard work has gone into his journey from being a ball-picker to representing Pakistan at the highest stage:
“My journey from being a ball picker to becoming a Pakistan batsman has been full of sacrifices. I had to work extremely hard to be where I am today. It is true when they say that hard work pays off.”
Babar Azam will be leading Pakistan for the first time in the longest format in the two-match series against South Africa. The first Test, scheduled to start on January 26, will be played at Karachi while the second Test will be hosted by Rawalpindi.