Misbah-ul-Haq, once known as ‘tuk-tuk’ now retiring from the international arena as King Misbah with standing ovation from the crowd and tribute from his teammates. Even his opponents could not help giving him a guard of honor. What an aspiring end to a stainless career.
When an era is to end, let’s shade some light on his career as the legend bows out.
No one knew that the son of a school principal in Miyanwali will lead Pakistan to World’s No 1 Test Ranking for the first time in history.
Misbah was a cricket lover ever since he was a kid, but he had to keep the focus on his studies after losing the father in his childhood.
Graduating in Faisalabad, he then went to University of Management and Technology, Lahore, for his MBA.
Misbah pursued a career in Textile for some time in Faisalabad. Known for its Textile Industries, Faisalabad was then called Manchester of Pakistan.
Once financially settled, Misbah then began to take cricket, his first love, serious again.
In his spare time, he played tap-ball cricket and soon made a name as a clean hitter of the ball. Making his team champions of tap-ball tournaments, Misbah was knocking at the doors of domestic circuit.
Started playing club cricket at the age of 23, Misbah made his First-Class debut in 1998 for Sargodha, at the age of 24.
The season in 1999-00, he had finished with 803 runs at an average of 38. Atop the scoring charts, that year was another man fighting against the norms – Only Younis Khan had scored 1102 runs at an average in excess of 100.
Younis got the debut, he had to wait another year for the debut in 2001 and then ODI debut a year later.
Things began to change for this hard-working and passionate Youngman, at least in his opinion. But, the destiny had other plans.
Misbah was soon dropped from the team, for four years. He fell prey of nepotism in the team and in the board management like hundreds of other Pakistan stars, who lost their shine in the darkest of PCB’s lobbies.
Misbah just featured in four ODIs over years of time, from January 2003 to September 2007.
He scored three First Class hundreds from Feb 2007 to April 2007, sending a clear message to selectors.
It was the decisive moment, had Misbah not gotten the WT20 call for Pakistan, he would have called it curtains to his cricket career.
He played the tournament with all his abilities of power hitting, taking Pakistan closer to the trophy, but then… destiny happened again.
His one miscalculated hit throughout the almost-champion inning, cost him and his team the World T20 Trophy. Pakistan lost World Cup to arch-rival India from a whisker of distance to winning it.
Well, he was, however, picked for India tour later in that year, where his consecutive Test tons against the same opponents could not silent his critics, neither the nation had totally forgiven him for his WT20 blunder, but he moved on.
After Pakistan’s disastrous run against South Africa, Misbah once again was made the escape goat.
He was mulling over retirement decision again.
In 2010, the Spot-Fixing Scandal happened. Afridi had taken retirement, and Salman Butt was banned, with Yousuf injured and Shoaib Malik uninterested, then PCB chairman Aijaz Butt called Misbah to his office and told him, he was playing Test cricket again…. as a CAPTAIN!
Knowing the PCB’s ways, his appointment wasn’t part of any great plan. It was just the norm of having the oldest and the most educated member of the team leading them. But it was in those matches, noticed by no one, that the foundation of Pakistan’s success in the following decade was laid.
Misbah had an uphill task to lead a humiliated team who was just named ‘fixers’ from the international media.
But, he had his plans. Since international cricket in Pakistan was banned, and Pakistan had lost its best fast bowlers in the scandal, Misbah decided to review the strategy.
Making UAE as Pakistan’s second home, the skipper decided to go with the spin attack. With the presence of Ajmal and Rehman, his job became easier, and he had achieved his first haul mark, just one defeat in 17 Test matches as a captain.
Misbah then led the torn apart team, gelling it together, winning big series, taking World Number One Test side, England down to 3-0 defeat in UAE.
Giving, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka a taste of their own medicine, winning ten Test series as a captain (the series win against West Indies could be his eleventh.) He also won most Test matches as a skipper (25), beating Imran Khan (14).
When Misbah was made captain, Pakistan were ranked number six in Tests. Within the next six Tests, he toppled the ranking card, having 24 Test wins to his credit.
Under his captaincy, Pakistan won 24 matches, lost 13 and drawn 11 matches.
His hard-work and passion cannot be summarized in a few lines, but it might give you a rough sketch of what he went through to get the place he deserved!
By: Syed Arzan Ali