There are two categories of captains, those who just perform their duties as they are told and there are captains who lead by setting an example and mould the team. Misbah-ul-Haq lies in the second category as he has single handedly united the erratic and inconsistent Pakistani team as one and has won laurels from all quarters. He has managed to earn respect of his players, something which was missing after the great Inzamam-ul-Haq retired.
Misbah is the most successful Pakistani test captain of all time and has captained Pakistan in 46 test matches, winning 22, losing 13 with 11 draws. He was appointed at a time when Pakistan cricket was tainted by spot fixing scandal in 2010 which led to suspension of Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and the regular captain Salman Butt. But Misbah was able to lift the spirits of the disgruntled Pakistani team and even took them to the peak of the Test rankings. He was quite successful in the ODI arena as well and has an impressive win percentage of 52. He has been an inspiration and has stayed away from controversies in his 9 year career but at the age of 42 Misbah doesn’t really have much cricket left in him.
The first task at hand for PCB is to find a new captain and there are quite a few names that are doing the rounds. These names include Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz and Azhar Ali. However barring Shoaib Malik none of these players have any experience in captaining a side. Even Shoaib Malik is reaching the end of his career. Whoever PCB chooses it all boils down to the fact that the new captain will have to carry forward the legacy left behind by Misbah-ul-Haq.
Another headache that will plague Pakistan is they have to find a player to replace Misbah-ul-Haq who has been formidable. Their problems have been further escalated following reports that Younis Khan who is 38 might soon announce his retirement. These retirements will leave a void in the Pakistani batting line-up and needs to be filled up soon. The fact that Pakistan no longer plays cricket on their home grounds in Pakistan hasn’t helped their cause either.
Though many youngsters have been given a break hardly any of them have been able to build on the promise which they showed initially. These include players like Umar Akmal and Shehzad. The former players and coaches of the Pakistani team have also lamented about how cricketing matters are now placed in a non-cricketer’s hand, which has led to selection based on influence rather than merit in the team. The PCB has to make sure that the young talents are nurtured and improve the game at grass-roots level. They also have to make sure that the team is exposed to tough playing conditions so that the new players coming in will gain invaluable experience.
Misbah has been an unsung hero for Pakistan cricket, and it will be a huge task for the PCB to find an able replacement when he hangs up his boots following the remaining tests against England and Australia. The rebuilding may take some time, the results may not in their way but Pakistan will have to be patient, determined and rally behind their new captain.