Steady Misbah writes his name in Pakistan history
But on Thursday he made history, becoming Pakistan’s most successful Test captain of all time as his men secured a thumping 248-run win over New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.
In recording his 15th victory as skipper, the much-maligned Misbah eclipsed Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, giants of the game in Pakistan, who captained the side to 14 Test wins apiece.
The New Zealand win came on the back of a 2-0 whitewash of Australia, Pakistan’s first series win over the Aussies in 20 years.
With his calm, dogged perseverance, Misbah stands apart from the perennial turbulence and upheaval of Pakistani cricket and he can now hold his head up among the greatest ever to lead his country.
He took over the team at one of its darkest moments, in the wake of the 2010 spot-fixing scandal that saw then-captain Salman Butt and two fast bowlers banned and jailed in Britain.
Under Misbah’s unflappable guidance, the side seems to have left behind the controversies and off-field antics that plagued it in the past.
Misbah said it had been a tough journey.
“When I look back today I was not even in the team,” he said.
He had been dropped for the fateful England tour of 2010, which ended in disgrace for the team as captain Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were caught by a newspaper agreeing to bowl no-balls to order.
“It was a tough situation but bad days or good days I never lost hope, and today I am placed above Imran and Miandad as Test captain which I had never thought of,” said Misbah.
‘Never give up’
The 40-year-old had some low moments this year.
He scored just 67 runs in Pakistan’s 2-0 series defeat in Sri Lanka in August and dropped himself for the last one-day international against Australia, just before the Test series.
“The journey of the Pakistan team has been similar to the journey of my life — not being in the side was one of the toughest times not only in my career but in my life as well; but I never give up,” he said.
“Since I was called up to lead the team I obviously had to justify my position as a batsman too.”
His cautious approach with the bat earned Misbah the derogatory nickname “Tuk-tuk” from Pakistani fans who prefer the high-octane big hitting of Shahid Afridi.
But Misbah answered his critics in the second Test, equalling the great Viv Richards’ record for the fastest Test century of all time, off just 56 balls.
That innings typified the anger of a man keen to show his detractors that he can play with aggression while still acting responsibly for the good of the team.
Former captain Rashid Latif said Misbah deserves all the accolades.
“He has led Pakistan in an admirable manner,” said Latif. “He deserves the highest civil award of Pakistan for setting the team on a path of recovery and to greatness.”
Even in the toughest moments Misbah never lashed out at his critics, preferring to do his talking on the field.
“I come from a small place called Mianwali,” said Misbah of his hometown in the Punjab Province.
“There people glue to the television and pray for me and for the Pakistan team, and it is because of their prayers and prayers of my mother and family that I am here.
“As for my criticis I never get distracted, because they have a job and I have a job, whoever does it well will be remembered.”
Team-mate and close friend Mohammad Hafeez said Misbah’s personality had helped him to succeed.
“Good things happen to good people and since Misbah is a good man, the Almighty has blessed him with honours,” he said. – AFP