It is at once indicative of the short sightedness, or maybe we can say the personal preferences of some admittedly renowned past cricketers that they are attempting to make Misbahul-Haq the fall guy. No one is coming forward to admit that some wrong choices and decisions over the years have led to this stage. I believe that there is a lack of rational analysis and more of playing to the gallery.
As the Pakistan side and country’s image falls to a depth where a foreign player laughs in a way that we used to do when we accidently saw someone naked, the past blunders and selection based on likes, preferences and pressure till at least such time as Zaka Ashraf was chairman, have today fully exposed those who did this.
Ironically the selectors have traditionally been seen as the least empowered or influential no matter what the past PCB chairmen have claimed. There have been enough instances over the past few years to prove that it has been nepotism, arrogance and outside interference that have affected our selection.
Otherwise no sane men could persist with proven failures in temperament and technique, and who make no attempt to hide their tentativeness and incompetence against genuinely good bowling.
Najam Sethi today must take control to save the Pakistan cricket ship from sinking. Misbah was for whole of the last three weeks pointed to as the core of all evils, all while miserable failures such as Hafeez, Afridi and even Malik are being touted for leadership. The pressure on PCB management as to whom to protect and whom to make scapegoat is tremendous as the public seeks answers. I would like to give a comparison of Misbah with someone who is regarded as one of the greatest leaders, fighters and finishers of a chase, Steve Waugh of Australia. Yes, I know you will jump out of your chair to see a comparison with the great Steve, but that is exactly where you see how quick we are to be influenced by commentators and media on how superior one is over the other. In actuality, men like Waugh are in the same position doing exactly the same job at the same level of competence. Just that they have greater assets with them. Yes, Steve Waugh was a more aggressive captain, but I don’t remember him beating England 3-0. As Misbah said recently in a TV interview he can’t take out a rocket launcher on the field to show his aggression.
People must realize that aggression is in built, and the wise see their weaknesses not just their strengths. To be a good general, you need dependable majors and sergeants in the front line. To cut to the chase let’s see some figures that I have limited to the context of the current charges against him: (There is another comparison which I’ll point out after you see Table 1).
Misbah displays almost the same strike rate and a far better average. Also, notice the matches and innings played by each and then see the number of fifties and sixes. Notice that Waugh has a century every 96 innings and that only running out of partners or completion of overs has robbed Misbah of at least one hundred, if not more.
Now let’s see how each performed when batting second to finish the match unbeaten when chasing a target to win the match (Table-2).
So how did each perform when each was captain of the side and finished the match unbeaten when chasing a target to win the match (Table-3).
In both the above tables, see the strike rate please and judge from boundaries and sixes hit as to who was more aggressive.
Now let’s see how each performed when each was not captain of the side and finished the match unbeaten when chasing a target to win the match. (Table-4).
Again, see the fact that Misbah has more runs in far fewer innings, a higher strike rate. Last 2 columns make interesting reading too. Misbah has maintained, if not improved on these figures in each case, when playing against Australia, India, South Africa, West Indies and Sri Lanka. So those who feel these figures are bloated by performances against lower ranked teams should be satisfied on this count too. Now to the point I promised earlier. Steve achieved these figures when he had Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting, to set up a platform of runs before he came to bat. Compare these three with the likes of Hafeez, Jamshed, Malik, Umar and Kamran Akmal.
Partnering Waugh would be hard hitters who normally got it right, such as Tom Moody and Shane Warne. After Misbah come Tanvir, Wahab, Irfan, Ajmal, Junaid.
What people need to be told is that once Hayden and Gilchrist retired then even with Hussey, Clarke, Watson, Ricky Ponting was easily overrun in the 2011 world cup and lost two Ashes series in a row, one of them at home to a determined but not so great England side.
Take Misbah’s figures and compare them to England’s current ODI captain Alastair Cook and former captain Paul Collingwood under whom England won the World Twenty20 title in 2010, with their respective assets in batting and bowling, and you would see just how tall Misbah stands with them.
Clearly his critics have no time to come up with the above comparison to prove just how Misbah has accomplished the laborious task given to him after the PCB in the past slept over civil war in the dressing room, spot-fixing activities and the Waqar-Afridi tiff. Najam Sethi’s recent move to get Misbah included in Twenty 20 squad is an indicator that he is giving a shut up call to those who are pulling him down.