Pakistan Test captain Misbahul Haq has proposed an increment in domestic fixtures of one-day games in order to resuscitate the national team’s performance in the 50-over format.
While the Men in Green are the top-ranked Test side in the world, they are languishing at number nine in ODI rankings, and the 42-year-old elucidated that the inconsistency was due to lack of exposure rather than talent.
In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, the Mianwali-born said that the main reason behind Pakistan’s ODI struggles is the lack of 50-over cricket at domestic level.
“A domestic cricketer may play at least 10 to 20 first-class matches in a season,” he said. “However, he doesn’t get the same match practice in the 50-over format.”
Misbah added: “I have been saying this for a while that we need to lay greater emphasis on one-day cricket in our domestic system, and play more one-day games, because you can’t evolve by playing a maximum of five 50-over matches a year in the domestic circuit.”
Between traditionalists trying to preserve the sanctity of Test cricket and the investors promoting the entertaining 20-over game, Misbah believes that dearth of attention towards the one-day format has deteriorated ODI cricket.
“We have just one 50-over tournament and the format is not even played at club level anymore,” he said.
“Most of the cricket at grassroots level is 20 to 25 overs; this is one big reason that our ODI cricket has deteriorated and we are standing at number nine.
“We need to develop our resources and we can only do so by increasing the number of games in our domestic tournament.
“The reason we are on top in Tests is because our players are getting enough games and exposure at domestic level. That is the only reason I see.”
Azhar Ali as ODI captain
Misbah, who captained the ODI side between 2011 and 2015, insisted that current captain Azhar Ali should not be the only one blamed for poor performance.
“In Pakistan, there is a perception that the captain is the only one responsible for everything,” he said. “However, cricket is a team game and every player has to contribute.”
He added: “We used every possible talent in the country but it didn’t work. Whenever you are forced to change, that is because the team isn’t performing. Unfortunately, in one-day cricket, the boys haven’t performed well.”
Mickey Arthur as coach
With 14 ODIs left for Pakistan before the window for direct qualification into the 2019 World Cup closes, Misbah backed coach Mickey Arthur’s efforts to make sure they are among the top eight teams by the September 2017 deadline.
“The important thing is that he is trying to bring a structural change from top,” said Misbah. “There was connection missing in between and that is being connected. Players’ fitness, bowling actions, batting techniques are being taken into consideration before selecting a squad to represent the country. Fitness is a major component and players must realise that.”