The Pakistan government announced last year on August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, that it would give Babar the award for his achievements in the field of cricket. He joins a number of former cricketers who were given this award, with Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Misbah-ul-Haq also honoured in this way.
Babar called the award “an immense honour” dedicating it to “his parents, fans and the people of Pakistan”. He was congratulated by a host of cricketers past and present, including Kamran Akmal, Ajmal, Shahnawaz Dahani, Saim Ayub and Mohammad Haris.
Since making his international debut in 2015, Babar has gone on to become one of the finest cricketers of his generation, and ranks among the greatest batters in Pakistan’s history. His career ODI average of 59.41 is the highest among players with at least 2000 runs, and his 17 ODI hundreds already place him second in the all-time list in Pakistan. He was a part of the side that won the Champions Trophy in 2017, and after a rocky start, has established himself as an elite Test batter.
His 3696 runs in the format include nine hundreds and an average of 48.63. He is also the leading run-scorer for Pakistan in T20Is with 3355 runs at an average of 41.41 and a strike rate of 127.80, and has scored two of Pakistan’s four T20I hundreds. He was named captain of the ODI and T20I sides in 2020, before taking over the Test captaincy in 2021. He was named the ICC Men’s Cricketer of 2022, as well as the captain of the ODI Team of that year.