By Daniyal Arif
We always have heard that Imran Khan was a brilliant captain. Indeed, that is true; Imran Khan brought Pakistan first ever cricket world cup for which he is regarded very highly. Some may argue against comparing Imran Khan with Misbah-ul-Haq but that’s totally an individual’s opinion. Imran Khan had a charismatic personality and handsome looks that helped override his weaknesses. Misbah’s modest outlook, down to earth attitude and soft facial expressions resulted in a perception of a defensive individual.
Let’s look at the resources Misbah had in comparison to Imran Khan. Did he have the likes of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram or Aqib Javed in his bowling attack? Did he have the likes of Javed Miandad in the middle order of batsmen? Yes, its true Imran was a tough individual who commanded his troops firmly and held a grip over them. Some say it was necessary keeping in mind our local culture or else he, too, could have faced captaincy rumors and splinter groupings in the team every now or then. Misbah, who came across as a soft individual, was probably not the right perfect man to rein Pakistani team of immature youngsters. These individuals failed to do justice to their talent, abilities, Pakistan and lastly to the captain who led the team from the front.
It’s important to highlight the circumstances in which Misbah took hold of the sinking Pakistan cricket post spot fixing controversy. It was Misbah who not only lifted Pakistan cricket from a highly probable downslide, but gave the team a proper formation once three incumbent backbone players were reduced to a five year ban. The team was in utter shackles as the captain leading the team was himself held responsible under the spot fixing controversy.
Misbah was born to shine in clouds of darkness, pessimism and hopelessness. Once Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez were banned for their illegitimate bowling actions, and the team stood short of resources to build up a lineup who could have hoped Misbah would manage it with sheer calmness and success. Without Junaid Khan, the lead bowling spearhead for the team post Muhammad Amir, the team sprung back out of nowhere and once again everyone was forced to say that this team can beat any team if it plays on potential, even without Muhammad Hafeez, Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal. Obviously, there’s no dearth of talent in Pakistan, but building a world class team out of hopeless situations has been a real test of Misbah’s patriotism to Pakistan. Misbah has served Pakistan and its cricket with immense sincerity and unfortunately the team failed to pay tribute to him in his last one day international match.
Misbah is the man who does not hold a century in one day internationals but has an average of almost forty five. He was the sole back bone of the team that held the jittery batting order together. His performance was beyond any personal interest for which he could have at least tried for a maiden century. Pakistan opening partnership has hardly ever consistently survived fifty odd runs or even ten to fifteen overs. Fortunately it was Misbah who provided buoyancy to the team consistently. Not sure whether it’s only Misbah who only knows how to bat and stay on the crease or he was the only person who took the responsibility. The latter argument sounds more convincing as captain is the face of the team: wins or loses, both are attributed to captain.
Misbah has done one great disservice to the team. It has made the other batsmen reliant on the captain; as whenever the team faltered, Misbah was there to rescue the team. The lack of responsibility and amateurish attitude that this has inculcated in other batsmen, especially youngsters, will play a crucial role in future team performances. Therefore, the label of Tuk Tuk that signifies the slow pace at which Misbah carries team innings is absolutely untrue as Misbah had to lead the innings from the start till the end in almost every other match. Had Misbah some mature and responsible batsmen like Kohli and Raina that Dhoni has in his side, he could have been less wary.