Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shahryar Khan on Wednesday admitted that he wanted captain Misbah-ul-Haq to retire after the upcoming three-match Test series against West Indies.
Misbah, 42, has been Pakistan’s batting mainstay over the past few years and has been instrumental behind their phenomenal success in the longest format of the game.
However, with Pakistan tasting defeats against West Indies, Australia and New Zealand, there have been calls for Misbah to be replaced, if not retire from the game completely. Misbah’s form with the bat, which also took a dip, has also seemed to expedite the matter.
It was only a year back that the side was proud winners of the ICC Test mace under Misbah’s captaincy but with unfavourable results and age pinned him down, it looks tough for him to continue.
“I have spoken to Misbah and discussed his future. I told him he needs to decide his future. He said he will come back to me after reviewing his form and performance in the PSL. He contacted me last week and told me he was available so I have retained him as captain,” Shahryar was quoted as saying by PTI.
“But at the same time it is a fact that during the tour, he will turn 43 and I don’t see him continuing to play on after the tour.”
Misbah’s retirement, thus, will not only end the era of Pakistan’s most successful captain (among those who have led in more than 25 Tests), it will leave a void in the middle-order that would be difficult to fill.
At present, Pakistan has three captains for three different formats with the side languishing at the eighth position in the ICC ODI rankings.
We have done it but we need to do a lot more to maintain it. Tough tasks ahead. #No1TestTeam— Misbah Ul Haq (@captainmisbahpk) August 23, 2016
With 10 centuries to his name, Misbah averages 45.84 in Tests with the bat, and that number shoots up to 50.55 in the 53 matches he has led the side. Also, of those 10 centuries, eight have come with him as captain.
Thus, for a player who enjoys performing under pressure, Misbah’s absence is bound to hurt Pakistan. His partner in crime in the middle-order, Younis Khan, too is 39 and might call it a day soon.
However, in spite of the success rate of 45.28% as captain and that staggering average with the bat, Misbah’s greatest contribution for his nation has to be the manner in which he helped to pull the team out of the spot-fixing turmoil in 2010. Misbah’s ice-cold attitude, coupled with his discipline and flair was what Pakistan needed most.
And he delivered in style.
Most memorable among his achievements has to be the 3-0 whitewash over England, then the No.1 side, in UAE in 2012 before drawing 2-2 in England last year.
Who after Misbah is going to be the most gnawing question for Pakistan cricket. In a side where as many as six players have led in the past two years across three formats, finding one captain --- preferably for all formats --- could be a challenging job for the PCB.
Pakistan knew Misbah had that unifying quality in him. And even Misbah knows he has to retire some day. But it’s best for a player of Misbah’s stature to take that call rather than the board imposing it on him.