Beat it critics, Misbah should stay!
Calling out for a reasonably successful captain’s head after every loss is inane to say in the least.
It is nothing new to see Misbah being criticised for one thing or the other. If not for his batting, it’s his captaincy.
The first few pundits and many fans were of the view that Misbah wasn’t suited to the T20 format, now that he has retired from the shortest and the least important format of the game; it’s the ODIs that many supporters think that he is not suited to. Misbah, by now is probably be used to it, and especially after the series loss to Australia, he must have mentally prepared himself for all sorts of criticism that was going to come his way, right or wrong.
Misbah as a captain has done a very good job since taking over from Shahid Afridi.
He has proven himself to be not only very good when it comes on field tactics, who is possibly conservative at times, but very astute and great at team management, which is of far more importance for any Pakistan team captain than anything else. The way he handled the youngsters and newcomers, including players who are a lot more senior to him, is again commendable. He has successfully teamed up with three different coaches and has gotten along very well with each one of them- also a rare trait for a Pakistani captain.
There are a number of journalists and fans who do give Misbah a hard ball of bashing, even if Pakistan plays brilliantly. They have questioned Misbah’s batting skills and his ability to lead the side without taking an overall holistic approach as to why the team was unable to perform; hint hint, our batting line up - a problem that is not new to the Pakistani team.
A captain is never the only reason a team is doesn’t perform well and at the same time, he is never the only reason for a team doing well - it’s a team game. Calling out for a reasonably successful captain’s head after every loss, is inane to say the least.
Questions have been raised regarding his batting, one being that he hasn’t been scoring enough runs and two that he scores much too slowly, without taking into consideration the situation of the game. Misbah has usually come onto the pitch to bat when Pakistan is under pressure to score and it’s up to him to resurrect the innings and score quickly.
On the flip side, however, whenever the Pakistani team has managed to get off to a good start and there is no real pressure on the middle order, Misbah has unselfishly sent in the more ‘aggressive’ batsmen in hope to up the run rate as much as possible. Unfortunately, this practice, with no fault of Misbah’s, has not proved advantageous, even with enough overs to spare, leaving it up to him and the last few batsmen to breathe life into the score again.
In defence of his ‘slow’ batting skill accusations, it would be wise to see that he has a strike rate of 74+ in ODIs and a very healthy average of 42+. He has the second best average of all the Pakistani batsmen we have today with over 2,500 runs. He has a decent strike rate of 74.15 which is only a touch behind the likes of Inzamam (74.24) and Yousuf (75.10), who were a long way ahead of Misbah with respect to talent and ability.
Of late, the team has been struggling in ODIs, more due to our well known batting collapses than anything else. Misbah is not only needed as a batsman in the ODI’s but is equally important as a captain- which many people fail to realise. In a batting line up like ours, even with all the talent, many a times we find ourselves struggling to play out the full quota of 50 overs, even on the flattest of tracks. Batsmen like Misbah, can only add to the score board because of his ability to bat according to the situation of the game as opposed to chucking away his wicket irresponsibly in a vain attempt to score.
Another reason for concern for the critics seems to be that he is too old to be playing in the short formats of the game. However, to rebut this concern, it would be appropriate to quote Chief Selector and Interim Coach Mohsin Khan, who praised Misbah for being one of the fittest players and best fielders on the team, despite his seniority.
Not many of our players can match the fitness levels of players from counterpart teams like Australia, England and South African- Misbah, at the age of 38 is one of those few players.
Misbah has, throughout his captaincy tenure, had to cope with unfair criticism from fans, journalists, armchair critics and former players here in Pakistan, but he has managed to earn a place of respect from cricket purists all around the world in the past two years; more than many of our more experienced players have ever gotten, including those who have been playing for a much longer time.
I see absolutely no need for Misbah to be removed as captain from the ODIs. He is not only able to score runs, he is perfectly fit and has the respect and support of all the players, youngsters and seniors alike.
Read more by Asim here.
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