Pakistan issues deeper than captaincy, says Misbah

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Misbah-ul-Haq said Pakistan needs to overhaul their domestic system if results need to change © AFP

Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq has said a change of captaincy won’t make as much difference to Pakistan’s cricket as an overhaul of the domestic system will.

Misbah’s comments come at a time when the PCB is set to overhaul Pakistan’s team, following recent tours of New Zealand and Australia where they lost five straight Test matches and managed only one victory in the ODIs. At the forefront of this agenda seems to be the removal of Azhar Ali as the ODI captain and the appointment of one captain – most likely Sarfraz Ahmed – across all formats, although this subject to Misbah stepping down as Test captain himself. However, Misbah doesn’t believe Pakistan’s problems will end there.

“Make anyone captain – Azhar or Sarfraz – but unless we solve our problem deep down, whoever comes in will face problems,” Misbah said in Faisalabad on Wednesday. “We have to improve domestic cricket and groom talent. If we want to do well in England, Australia and South Africa, we have to give the players maximum experience of playing there. If a player keeps on playing here [in Asia] and all of a sudden does a tour of Australia or South Africa after six years, it will be difficult for him [to perform].”

Pakistan’s domestic cricket has often been a subject of revamp and the standard of pitches and the ball have also been inconsistent, while the focus on fitness has also been in question. When asked if the Pakistan Super League (PSL) might offer some resolve, Misbah said it wasn’t feasible to expect that.

“Don’t start thinking that there will be change in the team after PSL,” he said. “I think we have to improve [the domestic structure] overall. It is just a tournament. Obviously players will come from it and it will give them exposure, [but] otherwise we have to do a lot of work. We have to bring our domestic cricket close to international standards for whatever talent comes through from the Under-16s and Under-19s. We have to prepare better pitches and improve the standards of our cricket in domestic set-up.”

Misbah has been under pressure amid suggestions from cricketing quarters in the country that he should retire. However, he is keen to assess his batting and hunger for the game as he leads Islamabad United, the defending champions, during the PSL’s second edition in the UAE.

“We need consistency in the thinking of our nation, and then there will be consistency in our team,” he said. “If your thinking is not consistent and it changes after one match, then the team’s performance will also be like that.

“If you are talking about me – I retired one year ago, but at that time the whole nation said I should keep on touring. Now the whole nation is saying that I should be ashamed of myself and go. If you do such things, nobody will be ready to become captain. It’s not necessary you win every series, it’s not necessary you perform in every series. One can put in his best effort. Our views change if you don’t perform in four matches, despite performing for six years.”

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