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PCB admits to asking Misbah-ul-Haq to retire but do they have a successor?

Misbah-ul-Haq is ageing and not scoring enough but the PCB will find it extremely difficult to find someone who possesses his unifying strength as captain.

cricket Updated: Mar 09, 2017 14:53 IST
Misbah-ul-Haq,Pakistan Cricket Board,Pakistan captain
Misbah-ul-Haq’s finest moment as captain came when he lead Pakistan to a 3-0 sweep against England, then the No.1 side, in the UAE in 2012. (Getty Images)

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.

Read more | Misbah-ul-Haq to lead Pakistan in three-match Test series against West Indies

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.

Misbah-ul-Haq (right) gets the ICC Test Championship mace from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson in Lahore on September 21, 2016. Pakistan were No.1 in the Test Championship table after they drew England 2-2 at the Oval in London on August 14, 2016. (AFP/Getty Images)

“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.”

Read more | Inzamam-ul-Haq indirectly advises Misbah-ul-Haq to step down as Test captain

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.

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.

Read more | Misbah-ul-Haq to review cricket future during Pakistan Super League T20

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.

First Published: Mar 09, 2017 14:53 IST