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Jayawardena picks star player to dethrone Root as top Test batsman – ICC Cricket

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Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardena has used the latest episode of The ICC Review to explain which batsman he thinks is best placed to take England’s Joe Root at the top of the MRF Tires ICC Test Batting Rankings.

Joe Root has ruled the roost at the top of the Testbatter rankings since June this year, with the Englishman enjoying a fine World Test Championship, and in a rich vein of form under new coach Brendon McCullum.

The former England captain has scored more runs than any other player since the turn of the decade, earning the ICC Men’s Test Player of the Year award in 2021.

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But Jayawardena knows how many world-class batsmen are lining up to usurp Root at the top of the order and has nominated Pakistan captain Babar Azam as the player most likely to claim the top ranking in the future .

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When host Sanjana Ganesan put Jayawardena on the spot during the latest episode of The ICC Reviewthe Sri Lankan great tipped Babar to dethrone Root at the top of the Test Rankings.

“Severe one!” shouted Jayawardena. “I would say Babar Azam has a chance. He has been consistent in all three formats and it shows in his ranking. He is a naturally gifted player, plays in all conditions, he has the game to adapt as well.

“It depends on the amount of cricket, who plays when and how much, but Babar could be the man.”

Babar is the only player in the top three in the batsmen’s rankings in all three formats, occupying the top spot in each of the white ball formats and currently number 3 in Tests.

With his recent rise on the Test charts, Babar has made noise about being the undisputed No. 1 in all formats of the game and Jayawardena said the Pakistan skipper is capable of achieving the difficult feat.

“T20Is and ODIs, it’s difficult to stick because there are a lot of good players who have to be consistent,” Jayawardena said.

“As long as he can be that because he has a very good role to play in that Pakistan set-up – they have batsmen around him so he can play his own game – he has to be able to keep that and at the same time , push himself to get better.

“He batted really well in Sri Lanka. I think Prabath (Jayasuriya) was his nemesis – he got him three times in the four innings. That was a very good fight to watch. Babar got a really good hundred in the first test match.

“He will always push himself to get better. Recently seen in some of his interviews that it is also his goal to become No.1 across the table. It can’t hurt to challenge yourself to get there.

“Being the captain as well, he took responsibility and performed, which is great to see. (It’s) Not an easy thing to do.

“I’d put my money on him keeping all three for at least a while, but there are some good quality players who will keep pushing him.”

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Jayawardena then went into detail when asked about what makes Babar such a special player, with the former Sri Lankan captain stating that he was most impressed by the amount of time the Pakistan skipper has on the battle

“(I) think it’s just the technique, the timing he has and the composure he has in the middle there,” Jayawardena said in praise of Babar.

“He doesn’t get rattled at any point, whether he’s playing T20Is, ODIs or Tests, he adapts quite brilliantly.

“Joe (Root) in Test cricket is the same. He knows what to do, he can set the pace when he wants, bat to what the conditions offer. Babar has the same quality, so that’s why he has been so consistent in all three formats.”

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The two stars will come face-to-face later this year when England tour Pakistan for a three-match Test series in December.

Root could further strengthen his No.1 spot in the upcoming series against South Africa, while Babar will have to wait until the series against England later in the year to make a charge for the top.


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