LAHORE-T20I and ODI captain Babar Azam has said that cricket without spectators is not a new concept for Pakistan as they had an experience of playing more than 10 years at a neutral venue.

In a virtual talk with sports journalists here on Monday, Babar, who is the most successful and top player of T20 cricket, said: “For Pakistan, it is not a new concept to play without spectators, as we had an experience of playing more than 10 years at a neutral venue, that is United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is something Pakistan has experienced but I think this will be the challenge for the world to deal with it.

“I have a fear that cricket without spectators will lose its charm and the transformation of the game into next generation will be minimized. If the parents will not take their young children to live events, they will not have such a passion and love for cricket, which their elders have for the game,” he added.

Expressing his desire, he said the T20 World Cup should be held in Australia at the scheduled time later this year. “As a player and captain, it will be my first T20 World Cup and I want it to be held at the scheduled time. But in the given circumstances when Coronavirus pandemic has disturbed everything, it will not be easy to organise and play cricket.”

About holding T20 World Cup without spectators, he said: “It will be hard to play in the absence of crowd as they encourage the players, which inspire them to perform well for them and their team. But during the last one decade, we played our international cricket at neutral venues in front of a handful crowd or almost empty stadiums and we are used to it.”

To a query, the skipper replied: “My main aim is to help the national team regain No 1 T20 ranking, which is only possible to motivate the players to perform to a higher level with a renewed confidence and zeal besides inspiring the team to improve its ODI ranking as well.

Terming the ODI captaincy a ‘challenge’, Babar said that he would try to live up to the expectations, the way he accomplished the challenges in T20 format as a captain. “Obviously, it is a challenge, which is not new to me as I have been doing it from the U19 team, then I led the side in the T20 format.”

He said he always enjoys while leading the team in the T20 format and he has learnt a lot being the vice-captain of the one-day team. “My target as ODI captain will be improving the ranking of the team. I will try to bring betterment in the team’s overall showing and in its every specialized department and to add to the confidence of players by developing a better sense of understanding and coordination.”

The captain said the fitness tests of the players have been conducted and at the moment, the players are concentrating on maintaining fitness with individual training at home. “We will be attending a training camp from next week to gain excellence in fitness and form by working on improvement of skills and technique.”

Babar said the PCB will ensure every measure regarding players’ safety and health before the team embarks upon the journey of England in the prevailing circumstances of COVID-19 pandemic. “The PCB is definitely looking into every aspect and will take a final decision in this regard by getting its 100 percent satisfaction regarding the safety and health of the players during the tour of England.”