Only a few days back during an interview the Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Shahryar Khan said that Pakistan still does not have a suitable candidate to replace Misbah-ul-Haq as the Test captain. I am a huge fan of Misbah myself and acknowledge his contributions but still, the statement did not go down well with me.
I say this because cricket is a team sport. I don’t understand why it has to be about individuals and why somebody like Younis Khan (with over 15 years of international experience) can’t be of help to Azhar Ali or Sarfaraz Ahmed if one of the two were to take over captaincy following the tour to Australia. I also wonder why our team managers cannot ensure a controversy free tour without assistance from a captain who commands respect and has the ability to keep the boys united during an away series.
There is no doubt that finding Misbah’s back up both on and off the field is not an easy task. However, instead of delaying the matter to the extent where PCB has little choice but to make hasty decisions, it would be better for them to appoint a future Test captain and provide confidence to the likes of Harris Sohail, Fawad Alam, Imad Wasim, Umar Akmal etc so that one of them is ready to fill the skipper’s batting slot once he is gone.
Misbah has been a wonderful ambassador for the country but during the previous series against the West Indies he certainly seemed off color. It is apparent that he is no longer as consistent with the bat as he used to be and God forbid an injury here and there could definitely bring about an abrupt end to his glorious career. Moreover, it is a matter of one bad series and we will have former cricketer’s questioning the logic behind persisting with a 42 year old captain.
Ever since, the retirement of Imran Khan there hasn’t really been a cricketer who has departed in a dignified manner. Bosses at PCB should understand that to keep the game alive in a country where no international cricket is played it is important to protect the image of a cricketing hero like Misbah. Therefore, the board representatives must sit down with him and plan his exit in a graceful manner that an icon like him truly deserves.