‘We have to improve our basic structure’ – Misbah

Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s recently retired ODI captain, believes the PCB will have a “challenge” selecting a new leader for the country’s limited-overs team. Misbah admitted that his ODI side was rarely ever stable, and that the players had never been “able to match the level” of cricket played by the top teams.

For the first time in nearly two years, Misbah appeared relaxed in a press conference. He was outspoken and very frank in his replies to journalists – a rarity during his time as captain. Misbah was in Lahore at the PCB headquarters along with team manager Naved Akram Cheema to meet the board’s chairman Shahriyar Khan following Pakistan’s quarter-final exit at the World Cup.

“My one-day career is over and I have played my innings,” Misbah said. “Now the responsibility lies with the youngsters to take Pakistan cricket forward. It indeed will be a challenge for the PCB to pick a new ODI captain.

“It’s unfortunate for Pakistan that we are not able to match the level of the top teams around the world for many reasons. Our batting and our fielding is just not there. We have to improve our basic structure. We played the quarter-finals and the credit for that goes to our bowlers who compensated our batting lapses. In batting and fielding, we need a lot of improvement.

“You can’t compare Pakistan’s batting line-up with other teams. In most of the matches when I got out early, we couldn’t play the entire 50 overs. When you are under pressure, you tend not to take too many risks and the strike rate goes down. We had an inexperienced batting line-up.

“When you get a set platform, you try your best to give at least a run a ball. We can say as a batting unit we are not yet matured and don’t know how to play a big innings. It’s a problem of our batting line-up and we need to look at it in future. Maybe if the batsmen get some exposure of international cricket, they get better. But obviously, it was our problem in the World Cup.”

Just as they were after the 2011 World Cup, the PCB is in a dilemma with regards to the next ODI captain as there is no automatic choice to lead the team for their tour of Bangladesh next month. While the board holds the ultimate power to name the next captain, Misbah said he had voiced his suggestions and observations to the PCB. He added that the next leader should be allowed to have a say in team selection.

“Our policy is that the selection committee has full and final authority. The captain gives his suggestions, but he doesn’t have the authority. I feel the captain and coach should both have authority as well as some responsibility in the selection committee.”

When questioned about his team selections during the World Cup, particularly his persistence with Shahid Afridi, Misbah said the allrounder was an “irreplaceable” member of Pakistan.

“Afridi was in good form. We didn’t have any replacement at No. 7 so obviously we played him,” Misbah said. “He is he only genuine allrounder in the team and we were struggling with the bowling line-up as we didn’t have fourth full bowler when we were played with six batsmen. So we had keep in him the line-up as a back-up for our batting. And you have to bank on a player who is a powerhouse. No doubt, he didn’t perform (as expected), but throughout the tournament his batting form was good.”

Misbah, 40, led Pakistan in 87 matches, winning 45 and losing 39. In a 13-year ODI career which included three different stints with the team, Misbah scored 5122 runs from 162 ODIs. His average of 44.82 as captain is also the best for any Pakistan player to have led the side in at least 10 matches.

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