Misbah soaring higher and higher

November 8, 2015

Misbah soaring higher and higher

"You find yourself in the XI and suddenly you are not even in the preliminary squad of 35, it prompts you to burn all your cricket equipments in anger," said Misbah-ul-Haq in June 2010 when he was ignored for the tour to England where Pakistan were to play six Tests-two against Australia and four against England and some limited-overs matches. Who would have thought then that this man was to become the most successful captain Pakistan ever had in Test cricket! Who would have thought he would lead Pakistan in as many as 87 ODIs to be joint third with Inzamam in the list of Pakistan ODI captains. And that he would lead the Green-shirts in 2015 World Cup.

These are his achievements as captain. He has achieved a lot as a batsman as well over the past five years. He is now the seventh highest scorer for Pakistan in Tests. His average is lower than only those of Miandad, Inzamam, Younis and Yousuf.

He has hit the highest number of sixes for the country in Tests (67 in 61 matches). He is the eleventh highest scorer for Pakistan in ODIs. Among the batsmen who have retired, only Zaheer Abbas has a higher ODI average than Misbah. He has struck 176 sixes across the three formats. Only Afridi, Inzamam and Wasim Akram are ahead of him, but it must be remembered that he has played around half the number of matches that these three did. Isn’t it amazing that he has achieved this distinction although he was once called "Mr Tuk Tuk"?

I think it was unfortunate that he was not given more opportunities in Twenty20 cricket -- it was the shortest format in which he gained recognition first, pulverizing the oppositions’ bowling attacks consistently in the 2007 T20 World Cup. He had almost won that title for Pakistan.

He could have served Pakistan in T20s further but the selectors did not want him to continue. It was inexplicable since he was consistently scoring runs in T20s as well. He scored 48 not out, 21 not out, 26 not out, 13 and 28 in his last five T20 innings. Was that bad? I don’t think so. The decision to drop him didn’t serve Pakistan as he has the highest average (37) in T20s for Pakistan. None of those preferred over him has even crossed 30 runs mark in this respect.

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan will do Pakistan a big service if he manages to persuade Misbah to continue for some more Test series. Why should he quit now? Age doesn’t matter if a player is performing well. He scored 352 runs at an average of over 58 against England in the recently concluded series, including one century and three half centuries. If Graham Gooch could continue playing even after he was 40 and had a poor fitness level, why can’t Misbah who is in great shape for international cricket? He has got only better and better since he was appointed captain for the series against South Africa in 2010. Let Azhar Ali wait for a while.

Misbah soaring higher and higher