Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s Test captain, will consider extending his career until the series against Australia late this year. Although it will depend on form and fitness, Misbah said he is keen to be part of the Test outfit for what will be a condensed period of action starting with the tour of England in July followed by series against West Indies and New Zealand before the Australia trip.
Misbah has recently recovered from a calf strain and will take part in the Pakistan Cup this week. He is also planning to arrive in England ahead of the Test squad and take part in some of Pakistan A’s matches as preparation for the series which starts on July 14 after an extended lay-off from the longer format.
Pakistan’s last Test cricket was in November when they completed a 2-0 victory over England in the UAE. Misbah suffered the calf injury in January and was ruled out of the National One-Day Cup and then carried the injury through a large chunk of the PSL. After undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy he will now use the Pakistan Cup – a five-team provincial competition – as the first step in proving his fitness.
“I am fine and hopefully this injury won’t be an issue ahead,” Misbah told ESPNcricinfo. “Unfortunately I didn’t get an opportunity to play county cricket but I am planning to go England with few of our boys before the tour to play some practice matches adapt in the condition there. I have the one-day cup, conditioning camps and A-team tour ahead so I am looking forward. It has been very tough being idle but I made my mind up to play the England series.
“All you think is positive and I want to contribute and this is why I am planning to play a certain length of time so that youngsters are ready to take my place. I hope by the time I leave, the Pakistan Test team is in safe hands and standing solidly on their own feet. If the team remains intact, when a new captain replaces me it shouldn’t feel any different.”
Misbah will be 42 next month but remains – barring the recent injury – very fit due to the huge amount of effort he puts in off the field. There had been a suggestion that last year’s series against England in the UAE would signal his retirement, but the PCB chairman Shahriyar Khan asked him to reconsider those thoughts.
“As a captain and a player you cannot achieve everything but I am satisfied with the result I have got for Pakistan so far. Although I am disappointed that I couldn’t do well with the limited-overs team I believe I have achieved a lot. If I manage to play the England series then I should also play the upcoming West Indies, New Zealand and Australia series as well mainly because they are at close gaps. Although I am certain about my will of playing all the series it will also be subject to my form and fitness as if it goes down then I will walk away rather rather than being a burden on the team.”
Pakistan’s Test team has been far more successful of late than the one-day or T20 sides. Misbah had a good relationship with Waqar Younis, who recently stepped down as coach, and the position is expected to be filled in the next three weeks. Misbah said it was a disappointment to see Waqar depart.
“Obviously it does make a difference when a settled combination is broken. I had good understanding and things were great in Tests but at the end of the day you are professional and eventually have to adjust accordingly. I hope the new coach comes early and we can talk to depart for England tour with a good chemistry.”
Misbah did not have the same stability in his one-day side and quit that role after the 2015 World Cup. He believes Pakistan’s limited-overs problems stem from the domestic game but hopes that improvements can be made.
“For this we have to look in our system and assess why we are not able to get a proper resource in limited over cricket,” he said. “T20 has been our strength but when people started taking it serious we are left behind. Look around everyone is improving and there is a lot of innovation brought into the game and individual’s skills are being improved.
“So we also have to get such mechanics in our system and play as many games as we can. In the past, one-day cricket has been reduced in one domestic cricket so how do you expect that you will get a good limited-overs cricketer? We used to have the Wills Cup which was very competitive and we managed to get a lot of players in that respective era. I believe this T20 league [the PSL] will start producing players after two or three years. Good players can only be produced when they get competition.”