So who is going to replace Misbah ul Haq?
Pakistan’s Test captain has given a hint that he is about to retire from the longest format of the game at last. He has already stopped playing the shorter formats at international level. So who is going to replace Misbah ul Haq?
If the board wants to have a captain for long term, the best choice seems to be Azhar Ali. For a player to be captain of a side, he has to be consistent performer. A player who cannot score runs or cannot take wickets regularly can’t be given the task to lead the team even if he is a master strategist.
Azhar Ali has shown remarkable consistency for more than five years. Since his debut against Australia in England in 2010, he has been consistently scoring runs. Since he has cemented his place over the years and has also been deputy to Misbah in the last two series, he should be given the responsibility. He is still only 30 years old and can serve Pakistan cricket for many years to come.
But there is another consistent performer in the team and he has expressed his desire to lead the team for the next few years. Younis Khan, who recently became the highest Test scorer for Pakistan, says he would, if given chance to captain Pakistan once again, prepare at least three future captains.
But the cricket chiefs in Pakistan may be reluctant to give him the charge now because he has rejected the offer to become the captain more than once in the past, which made people feel he is an emotional and impulsive man.
Furthermore, he has offended those at the helm of affairs multiple times in the recent past. He has criticised them for ignoring him for ODI team and then the Pakistan Super League. After such outbursts, it is unlikely that he will be given the position.
Mohammad Hafeez was once considered the future captain of Pakistan for all formats but his lack of consistency in batting and the ban on his bowling have diminished his chances of staying in the team.
If Shoaib Malik can keep scoring runs and taking wickets as he did in Abu Dhabi in the first Test against England he could become a contender for this most coveted position. He is still only 33 and being a super fit player he has at least five years of cricket left.
He was given this position in 2007 after the retirement of Inzamam, but failed to do well, losing two of the three matches in which he captained the side. But then he was very young, only 25. Now he is 33 and has a lot of experience of leading his Sialkot side in domestic cricket.
Sarfraz Ahmed could also be considered for the job even though questions have been raised about his wicket-keeping ability. He can play as a specialist batsman in the team as he has been a prolific scorer for the Test side for about two years. He has captained Pakistan Under-19s and Karachi teams in domestic cricket.