Newsmaker 2016: Misbah ul Haq

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    Captain of the Pakistan cricket team Misbah-ul-Haq answers questions from the media during a press conference at Lord's cricket ground in London on July 7, 2016. The first test match between England and Pakistan begins on July 14, at Lord's. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel Leal-Olivas / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB

    Ridiculous to respected

    The Pakistani cricket team returned to England to play a full series after a gap of six years. This tour was particularly important and being closely watched as the previous series in 2010 ended with a spot fixing scandal that nearly destroyed Pakistani cricket. A very stable and decent bowling attack was banned for five years; in particular the loss of Muhammad Amir who was destined for greatness as opined by many former pacemen including Wasim Akram.

    Misbah inherited this broken demotivated side when he was made captain after the scandal. His record at the helm speaks for itself with 48 tests matches, 24 wins, 13 losses and 11 draws. But it was the at 2016 England tour in particular that Misbah-Ul-Haq was able to give an overdue and fitting shut-up call to all his critics back home (retired fellow teammates) and internationally.

    Pakistan won the very first test at Lord’s as Misbah scored a century and Yasir Shah picked up six wickets in his very first test outside Asia. The team even celebrated with the now famous press-up gesture as a thank you to the army that trained the side in Kakul before the series started.

    The next two tests however were disappointing with an ineffective Yasir Shah, a substantial number of dropped catches – suspiciously a majority of which were dropped on Muhammad Amir’s bowling — combined with a crippled top order, and there was little Misbah could do except for half centuries and setting a decent field.

    Pakistan was able to tie the series with a win in the final test with contributions from the old guard (Younis Khan’s double ton), and the new talent as Asad Shafiq scored a century and Sohail Khan’s five-wicket haul.

    In the process Pakistan became the number one test side in the world. Misbah-Ul-Haq deservedly got both the ICC test mace and the ICC spirit award. In Misbah’s captaincy there is calm, a plan, patience and most importantly, maturity – a combination of characteristics that were maybe all present in Imran Khan to whom Misbah is quite often compared and in some circles considered better.

    From being one of the most ridiculed sportsman to the most respected, Misbah used his bat and cricket brain rather than words to prove himself as one of the best, if not the best test captain Pakistan has ever had.