Babar Azam, Bismah Maroof awarded Pakistan's civilian honours

Babar, 28, becomes the youngest person to ever receive the Sitara-e-Imtiaz

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
Babar Azam waves to the crowd, England vs Pakistan, Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Final, Melbourne, November 13, 2022

Babar Azam called the award "an immense honour"  •  Getty Images

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has received the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third-highest civilian honour in Pakistan. It was conferred onto him at a ceremony in Lahore on Pakistan Day, which is a national holiday in the country. Babar, 28, becomes the youngest person to ever receive the honour, beating out another cricketer, Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Sarfaraz was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in Karachi in 2018, when he was 31. Former Pakistan women's captain, Bismah Maroof, meanwhile, has been awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, the fourth-highest honour. Masood Jan, a former blind cricker for Pakistan, received a Pride of Performance Award.
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.
Maroof becomes the second female cricketer to receive the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, following in the footsteps of Sana Mir. She said she was "humbled and honoured", in particular dedicating the award to her father who "stood by me through thick and thin." Maroof, 31, assumed the Pakistan captaincy in 2013, retaining it until 2020 before she took a break from cricket to give birth to her daughter. She assumed the captaincy after returning, and led the side during the recently concluded T20 World Cup, before stepping down earlier this month.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000