‘Method captain’ Babar Hayat ready to make difficult team decisions as Hong Kong prepare for Kenya one-day series
The 24-year-old is embracing his new role in cricket, often having to distance himself from friends in the team
Babar Hayat is cricket’s equivalent to the method actor, taking his new role as Hong Kong captain beyond the boundaries to the extent that he has had to distance himself from friends within the team in order to make tough decisions.
Hayat, 24, recently took over the captaincy from Tanwir Afzal and was at the helm of his first home series against Papua New Guinea this week, with Hong Kong winning the one-day international series 2-1.
Hong Kong coach Simon Cook said Hayat, who scored 82 in the third game against PNG, is taking his role as skipper seriously. There were doubts about his availability after the first match because of a groin injury but the skipper recovered and played the remainder of the series.
“Babar Hayat is settling in well,” said Cook. “It’s not a case of him just walking across the white line first, there are quite a few things he’s had to take on and had to distance himself somewhat from the players because he has to make tough calls and leave his friends out from time to time.
“They are the sort of things that young captains struggle with early on. But he’s unbelievably determined to do well and extremely driven.
“His training since the World T20 has been incredible and he really is the one the guys look up to and that’s what we want from him.
“To be that icon player that everyone looks up to and everyone wants to be and emulate. He’s in the best physical condition of his career so far and he’s producing the most consistent cricket of his career.”
Hayat’s first major overseas test comes this month when Hong Kong travel to Kenya for a two-match ODI series that is part of the ICC World Cricket League – which figures in qualifying for the next ICC World Cup.
And the victory over PNG will boost their confidence against the strong Kenyans.
“We are very happy with a 2-1 series victory – it’s a nice result, 3-0 would have been much more pleasing considering we only lost 20 overs out of the three games we played – we just had a bad period in that second ODI,” said Cook.
“The team’s attitude has been fantastic, ever since we got back from the World T20 we sat down and had an honest chat as a group about where we wanted to go as a team on and off the field. I’ve been very, very happy with how the guys have responded.
“The application to strength and conditioning plus work they put in during May, June and July is helping us repeat skills day after day. In the third ODI we were as sharp as we were in the first, which was great to see.”
Part of Hong Kong’s success in international cricket is down to the fact that the players are full-time professionals contracted to governing body Cricket Hong Kong.
Along with support from the Hong Kong Sports Institute, the players are able to train full time and concentrate solely on improving themselves.
“The support Cricket Hong Kong give us to hand out full-time contracts is helping us push to reach up towards the top Associate Nations,” said Cook. “But it’s still tricky, we probably never field our full strength side with Jamie Atkinson only available on weekends due to work and Mark Chapman playing First Class cricket in Auckland.
“It’s great for Chappy that he is getting close to playing International cricket with a full member like New Zealand and we support him with that, but it does mean we don’t get to put our best side out on the park very often.”
“Confidence is high after winning this series against PNG, who are top of the World Cricket League and had won six games in a row, so it does point us in the right direction. I will say that we still haven’t strung a full game together yet and hit our straps just yet.”