Babar Azam must be protected from those who should be protecting him.

In popular culture, the lion is often depicted in one of two ways. The first and most common depiction shows the lion in his immovable prime, an aura of unmistakable majesty surrounding him. Behold The King himself and bow down before him, for he is wise, regal, and golden. The second depiction shows an aging lion - covered in battle scars and ravaged by time. Finally showing the type of vulnerability that brings with it the uneasy realisation that even the best among us may well be merely mortal.

Such is the duality of man that the royal among us can simultaneously contain both versions within them. And so, enter centre stage: Babar Azam. Sense and sensibility as much as pride and prejudice. Babar Azam the batsman is unparalleled, especially in the one-day format. But that is no longer news. It has not been news for some time now. Enough has been written about those ridiculous numbers. Averages of 60.66, 110.5, 67.5 and 84.87 in the past four years. Numbers which make you rub your eyes for a second. These...these can't be right? But then you watch Babar bat, and you realise that of course they are. Those numbers make perfect sense, just look at him. But then, enough has been said about those darned aesthetics as well. Balance and coordination so immaculately precise that they bend time and space to their will. That late, late cut watched on repeat ad infinitum. That disdainful flick off the pads burned into every eye. That cover drive injected into the veins of every hand that has ever held a cricket bat.

Such is the elegance and regularity with which Babar does what he does that it has become terribly easy to just take it all for granted. He has no right to be making it look this easy. He has no right to be making it look this routine. And yet he does. By now, we all know the drill. The spectators do, the journalists do, the teammates sitting in the pavilion do, those partnering him at the other end do, the opposing captains do, and most tellingly of all, the bowlers do too. Babar Azam just occupies a different plane of existence when he stands at the crease. Babar and Aslan, morphing into each other. That golden body glowing in the sunlight, that smooth mane flowing in the breeze.

FROM THE VAULT: Babar Azam - the stat padding genius

This is the year of the 50-over World Cup. Babar the batsman is at the peak of his powers. In October, he makes international cricket's shortest possible journey and yet unfortunately also its least trodden...

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