Pakistan v West Indies, Champions Trophy, Group B, The Oval June 8, 2013

Misbah, Pakistan's magnificent nearly man

Misbah-ul-Haq's tragedy is that his heroism, too often, covers for the collapse of his fellow batsmen, a collapse so complete that is it beyond the skills of one of the world's best bowling attacks to rescue
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Misbah-ul-Haq's impressive leadership deserves better support from his team © Getty Images

As West Indies closed in on Pakistan's total at The Oval, Misbah-ul-Haq conceded a captain's no-ball: too few fielders inside the circle. It was another act to typify the dramatic career of Misbah, Pakistan's greatest ever nearly man. Misbah is by no means a perfect captain, but his impressive leadership deserves a better support cast.

Pakistan bowled like world champions and fielded competently; two-thirds of their game is progressing grandly under the current regime of Dav Whatmore and his support coaches. But the batting remains ever Pakistani, unreliable in execution and unfathomable in selection.

It should have been Misbah's day. Ninety-six not out from a total of 170 all out tells its own story. As Misbah eked the final runs towards a thoroughly deserved century, including missing out on a juicy long-hop outside off stump, a familiar aura of heroic tragedy engulfed Pakistan's captain.

Misbah and Nasir Jamshed aside, Pakistan's batsmen were pitiful in this match. As well as West Indies bowled, especially Kemar Roach, and took advantage of some low cloud at The Oval, Pakistan's top order produced a display of static footwork and erratic swipes to gift their opponents a resounding advantage. In these conditions, swishers-in-chief Imran Farhat and Mohammad Hafeez seldom prosper. Asad Shafiq caught the swishing bug. Shoaib Malik merely played to form.

It was the Misbah-Nasir axis that promised to rescue Pakistan, and 200 would probably have sufficed against this West Indies batting line-up. The atmosphere at The Oval was electric, crammed with Pakistan fans and a worthy smattering of West Indians. But the crescendo that greeted Nasir's half-century filled his head with visions of glory and he needlessly holed out at long-off without scoring another run.

Meanwhile, Misbah continued his vigil. He blocked, he drove, he glided, he lofted. He even walked back to the pavilion before Denesh Ramdin's shoddy claims of a grounded catch were rumbled by the umpires. While Irfan was in attendance for a fighting final-wicket partnership, Misbah played last man standing, recalling the many solitary vigils of Imran Khan, Misbah's predecessor in captaincy by heroism.

With Imran, there was only a sense of heroism, a relentless march onwards and upwards. When Imran stood tall, others raised their standard. The tragedy of Misbah is that his heroism, too often, covers for the collapse of his fellow batsmen, a collapse so complete that it is beyond the skills of one of the world's best bowling attacks to rescue.

It is that mood that Misbah needs to change with the support of his fellows. He nearly did it today.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on June 9, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    From an outsider's perspective, I always get the feeling that Misbah never gets the credit he deserves. The shambles that Misbah inherited was a far cry from the circumstances in which Imran inherited the side in the 80s. Besides, Imran never had to contend with the disadvantage of not playing at home. The pressures on Pakistani society today are a far cry from what they were in the past. Considering all that, I think Misbah has done an incredible job as leader and yet appreciation is always grudging.

  • on June 11, 2013, 15:19 GMT

    A comment here says that Abdul Razzaq is not committed, please check his last 10, 20, 30 matches for Pakistan, he has been asked to bat from Opener to number 8 and he never complained. He made runs at every position and in almost every match in last few tournaments he came in with 3 or 2 overs left. He still hit sixes, what is he meant to do. Razzaq was dropped for every match in last years T20 and we would have won that tournament. he played in 2 matches and faced less than 2 overs in each game. same story in 2011 world cup when he is easily our best hitter of the ball and extremely consistent and experienced. Razzaq should be Captain he has been treated disgracefully. Phenomenal talent being wasted by Pakistan Cricket Administrators.

  • cricket-india on June 10, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    too much is being made of misbah as a captain and a batsman; remember pak lost 2 world cups due to his batting. atleast the T20 world cup was lost off a moment of craziness, the 2011 world cup was where we saw misbah batting like bizarreness personified. even now, as many posters have pointed out, misbah doesn't take the initiative to drop non performers like malik and farhat, no initiative to bring in promising youngsters to groom, etc. misbah is good, sure, in the sense that he's grounded and has brought in calm and stability to the pak team that has always lacked them, but enough of deifying him already!!

  • on June 10, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    you are right Mr. Doris... I think Shoaib Mailk is now useless and should be kicked out from Playing 11.. Umer Amin is such as brilliant allrounder, he must be given an opportunity

  • Walayat_Khan on June 10, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    I love Misbah being a good middle order batsman and his way of batting in tense situation. But nowdays cricket demands aggression, building solid partnerships and some sense of match situation that will help you to place your ship on other side as a winner. That whats mMisbah and his team mate lack!!!

  • Biggus on June 10, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Misbah is so very much underappreciated by many Pakistan fans. Outsiders have no trouble seeing his worth, and have a far greater regard for him than most of his countrymen, who would prefer to put their faith in players like Afridi. I don't know whether this is a result of tribal jealousies or their preference for flashy but erratic players since I'm an outsider, but I think he's one of the better Pakistan captains that I've seen. In playing terms he is so often a voice of reason in a wilderness of sillyness, and I think it's a shame that even at times such as this there are still many comments from those who think he's worthless.

  • on June 9, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    We as a Pakistani cricketer loves to watch fours and sixes. We do not appreciate players who build their inning and then start playing their strokes. Misbah is un fortunately one of them. We forgot this is the same Misbah who is giving us victory after victory on foreign ground. We must give respect to Misbah. I believe Misbah has the ability and Temperment to win this trophy if our batsmen support him and pay attention to his advices. Go green Allah will help you.

  • o0oPiTBuLLo0o on June 9, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    I have know clue why so much appreciation for Misbah ?! He is a 39 year OLD man first of all. He's been given by his own men the life-time achievement award of TUK-TUK King ! With that being said, why is he the captain of ODI and T20s ?! Why ?! I appreciate his calmness but he lacks match winning strategies and match winning responsibilities. He only deserves appreciation here for his calmness, but waY Too calmness and coolness will NOT win matches. A little aggression is always needed to win the matches. Staying calm 'n' cool, playing tuk-tuk will keep pakistan away from any kind of series or title !!!

  • on June 9, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    My blood pressure goes sky high whenever I see Shoaib Malik included in the playing team. Why blind selectors do not accept the fact that he is a spent force? If they can frop the likes of Yonus Khan and Umjar Akmal, why not Shoaib? This useless man should retire and pick up tennis. Can someone tell me if Umar Amin can do any worse than him? Selectors are chickens because they do know the word BOLD.

  • alipk52 on June 9, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    I wonder what Pakistan will do after Misbah's retirement? Pakistan needs somebody like him to rescue his team plus atleast 2 quick scorers like umar akmal, Shoaib malik can't fit in the team, i'll badly miss Abdul Razzaq, he's a match-winner with the bat as well as very very handy with the ball especialy in English conditions, i know he's a swing bowler so he would have taken at least 2-3 wickets per match, Pakistani selectors really needs some bold decisions as far as batting is concerned, There's not a single finisher in the batting line-up..what a poor selection!

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on June 9, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    From an outsider's perspective, I always get the feeling that Misbah never gets the credit he deserves. The shambles that Misbah inherited was a far cry from the circumstances in which Imran inherited the side in the 80s. Besides, Imran never had to contend with the disadvantage of not playing at home. The pressures on Pakistani society today are a far cry from what they were in the past. Considering all that, I think Misbah has done an incredible job as leader and yet appreciation is always grudging.

  • on June 11, 2013, 15:19 GMT

    A comment here says that Abdul Razzaq is not committed, please check his last 10, 20, 30 matches for Pakistan, he has been asked to bat from Opener to number 8 and he never complained. He made runs at every position and in almost every match in last few tournaments he came in with 3 or 2 overs left. He still hit sixes, what is he meant to do. Razzaq was dropped for every match in last years T20 and we would have won that tournament. he played in 2 matches and faced less than 2 overs in each game. same story in 2011 world cup when he is easily our best hitter of the ball and extremely consistent and experienced. Razzaq should be Captain he has been treated disgracefully. Phenomenal talent being wasted by Pakistan Cricket Administrators.

  • cricket-india on June 10, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    too much is being made of misbah as a captain and a batsman; remember pak lost 2 world cups due to his batting. atleast the T20 world cup was lost off a moment of craziness, the 2011 world cup was where we saw misbah batting like bizarreness personified. even now, as many posters have pointed out, misbah doesn't take the initiative to drop non performers like malik and farhat, no initiative to bring in promising youngsters to groom, etc. misbah is good, sure, in the sense that he's grounded and has brought in calm and stability to the pak team that has always lacked them, but enough of deifying him already!!

  • on June 10, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    you are right Mr. Doris... I think Shoaib Mailk is now useless and should be kicked out from Playing 11.. Umer Amin is such as brilliant allrounder, he must be given an opportunity

  • Walayat_Khan on June 10, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    I love Misbah being a good middle order batsman and his way of batting in tense situation. But nowdays cricket demands aggression, building solid partnerships and some sense of match situation that will help you to place your ship on other side as a winner. That whats mMisbah and his team mate lack!!!

  • Biggus on June 10, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Misbah is so very much underappreciated by many Pakistan fans. Outsiders have no trouble seeing his worth, and have a far greater regard for him than most of his countrymen, who would prefer to put their faith in players like Afridi. I don't know whether this is a result of tribal jealousies or their preference for flashy but erratic players since I'm an outsider, but I think he's one of the better Pakistan captains that I've seen. In playing terms he is so often a voice of reason in a wilderness of sillyness, and I think it's a shame that even at times such as this there are still many comments from those who think he's worthless.

  • on June 9, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    We as a Pakistani cricketer loves to watch fours and sixes. We do not appreciate players who build their inning and then start playing their strokes. Misbah is un fortunately one of them. We forgot this is the same Misbah who is giving us victory after victory on foreign ground. We must give respect to Misbah. I believe Misbah has the ability and Temperment to win this trophy if our batsmen support him and pay attention to his advices. Go green Allah will help you.

  • o0oPiTBuLLo0o on June 9, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    I have know clue why so much appreciation for Misbah ?! He is a 39 year OLD man first of all. He's been given by his own men the life-time achievement award of TUK-TUK King ! With that being said, why is he the captain of ODI and T20s ?! Why ?! I appreciate his calmness but he lacks match winning strategies and match winning responsibilities. He only deserves appreciation here for his calmness, but waY Too calmness and coolness will NOT win matches. A little aggression is always needed to win the matches. Staying calm 'n' cool, playing tuk-tuk will keep pakistan away from any kind of series or title !!!

  • on June 9, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    My blood pressure goes sky high whenever I see Shoaib Malik included in the playing team. Why blind selectors do not accept the fact that he is a spent force? If they can frop the likes of Yonus Khan and Umjar Akmal, why not Shoaib? This useless man should retire and pick up tennis. Can someone tell me if Umar Amin can do any worse than him? Selectors are chickens because they do know the word BOLD.

  • alipk52 on June 9, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    I wonder what Pakistan will do after Misbah's retirement? Pakistan needs somebody like him to rescue his team plus atleast 2 quick scorers like umar akmal, Shoaib malik can't fit in the team, i'll badly miss Abdul Razzaq, he's a match-winner with the bat as well as very very handy with the ball especialy in English conditions, i know he's a swing bowler so he would have taken at least 2-3 wickets per match, Pakistani selectors really needs some bold decisions as far as batting is concerned, There's not a single finisher in the batting line-up..what a poor selection!

  • on June 9, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    I think Misbah is best captain Pak ever had...better tham Imran Khan who had the luxury of playing within Pakistan & had wonderful talent in bowling in shape of Aaqib,wasim nd mushtaq and gr8 batting taelent too in inzi,ramiz,aamir sohail, miandad...But Misbah`s Batting Team never supported him and is not supporting since last 3 yearz...bowlers hav won matches for last 3 4 yearz..drop akmal nd farhat will do him good...

  • MianMoosa on June 9, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    Misbah can become more greater & superior if he take some bold decisions,,,,drop farhat & malik immediately,,,, pick hammad azam & umar amin,,,,,open with kamran akmal otherwise he is a waste at No 7....or handle umar akmal to rashid latif for couple of months,,,he has some wicket keeping skills,, improve it & he will be a dynamic wicket keeper batsman who can bat reliably at no 6....asad shafiqe need some time,,, he is technically sound than most of Pakistan batsman

  • lakshitha.jayakody on June 9, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    I think Misbah is the best stable captain after Imran Khan, for Pakistan. Unfortunately for Pakistan cricket, consistency & stability weren't exist for more than 10 years. Even Misbah himself a victim of this tragedy.

    Furthermore Misbah is 39 years old now. He has only 2-3 yrs of good cricket left with him, for maximum. So its the high time, Pakistan cricket should think of strategies and planning....beyond Misbah!!!

  • asad501 on June 9, 2013, 1:40 GMT

    in my opinion a big step misbah has to take is to drop malik

  • Zahidsaltin on June 8, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    You know what hurts most? When after such a match, Misbah says we need to rectify a mistake or two.

  • zindaaa on June 8, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    I am not a big fan of Misbah but this man has a strong character and can turn thing differently. Pakistan need a stable batsman in the middle to rotate the strike and carry the inning and Yunus khan is the only option with a lot of experience. Razzaq must be there in place of useless Malik and Farhat should be replaced with Umar Akmal. Pakistan has the best bowling attack and Wahab and Irfan is good for any batsman.

  • on June 8, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    Batting is the problem area of pakistan team but there is no batting coach in the team. No one is taking the responsibility as a batsman. Every one is trying to scure his position after scoring 30s and 40s. I think the turning point of the match was the careless short of nasir jamshed, which he played after scoring his fifty.

  • Zahidsaltin on June 8, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    NO DOUBT Misbah is a very good batsman and had it not been him, Pakistan could have been folded out many a times in the near past. The worst thing with Misbah is that he isn't pushing for young batsmen like Haris Sohail. Batsmen of batting averages in 20s should have been discarded a long ago and Umar Akmal, Haris Sohail and Umar Amin should be played in the matches instead of just keep them hanging around. Just look at Asad Shafiq with 40 matches and an average of 28 stilling is looking for his first century. Isn't it like putting our batting standards too low?

  • on June 8, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    good article. had to feel for misbah. 1st 3 to get out can hide behind moving ball but rest of them can not. farhat played a very very widish ball. even hunaid khan whose job should be to support misbah was chasing ball like he is a batting great. bowlers did bowl their heart out but simply not enough runs on board.

  • on June 8, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    One of the best ODI knocks i've seen

  • venkatesh018 on June 8, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    Aren't there any replacements for Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal. Surely Umar Akmal however reckless he may be, needs to be selected.

  • Qaasssssssssssssssim on June 8, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    I dont understand,Pakistan bring in players like Abdur Rehman and Ahmad Shahzad,but they put the same old players like malik,akmal,wahab riaz.Imran Farhat is no good.I prefer akmal instead of Farhat.If you want to insert Akmal in the team than it should be u.akmal not k.akmal,and if you still want k.akmal,then let him open.Atleast ha can get 20 to 30 runs.So this should be the squad for the match against south africa,1.Nasir Jamshed 2.Ahmad Shahzad 3.Hafeez 4.Shafiq 5.misbah 6.u.akmal 7.ehsan adil 8.Abdur rehman 9.Junaid Khani 10.Saeed Ajmal 11.Mohammad Irfan

  • on June 8, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    I think Pakistan has got world class bowlers and batsmen as well. Ispite of having that potential why they loosing most of the matches. ???????????????????

    It is clearly the leadership lacking there?? The selectors need to find a leader like Imran khan. People like Afrid or Misbah can't lead a world class team they can win Bangladesh or Nedreland like teams

  • Ray24 on June 8, 2013, 6:34 GMT

    We really don't understand why Imran Farhat and Shoaib Malik are in the team? If Kamran is there, he should open, he's only good in that position, although I'd love to see him out of the team. Why can't Umar Akmal keep, just to allow his brother to keep his place in the team I guess. We need a hitter or two down the order, and about time, Hamad Azam is brought in place of Shoaib. And Ahmad Shahzad in place of Farhat. Hafeez can be dropped down the order if we have Akmal, Shahzad and Nasir, with Shafiq as 3 and Misbah as 4 down.

  • Guduji71 on June 8, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    The innings from Misbah against WI is a slap on the face on those who call him Tuk Tuk..... and other rubbish. He is the best batsman we have in this current batting line up. I think Nasier Jamshed should be told off for the shot he played to get out. He was in he was set he was playing shots all along the ground and as soon as he completed his fifty he played a shot which cost match to Pakistan. This is very selfish. The management should take action against this attitude. Moreover, I think it was a mistake to bring Imran Farhat instead of inform Azhar Ali for this series. He should open with Nasir Jamshed. Hafeez is not good for one down position he should come at no.6. Umar Akmal is still good enough batsman for Pakistan. Wahab and all the other bowlers were excellent against WI.

  • sAm2sAm on June 8, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    I wonder, when will Pakistan ever git rid of Shaoib Malik and Imran Farhat. Batting failures are of PK's own making, if they cannot find any batsman better than aforementioned mediocre batsmen. I think, even Wahab Riaz/Saeed Ajmal/Irfan (shown yesterday and many other matches) have better blocking techniques than these two dead weights. PK is wasting two important batting slots for these two slobs, for no good at all.

    Also please do something about Kamran Akmal (Tiger against Minnows and wuss against good teams). If OK cannout find any wicket-keeper with bating skills, please teach some good batsman wicket keeping. It will still be better than Akmal's torture of a batting.

  • sAm2sAm on June 8, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    I wonder, when will Pakistan ever git rid of Shaoib Malik and Imran Farhat. Batting failures are of PK's own making, if they cannot find any batsman better than aforementioned mediocre batsmen. I think, even Wahab Riaz/Saeed Ajmal/Irfan (shown yesterday and many other matches) have better blocking techniques than these two dead weights. PK is wasting two important batting slots for these two slobs, for no good at all.

    Also please do something about Kamran Akmal (Tiger against Minnows and wuss against good teams). If OK cannout find any wicket-keeper with bating skills, please teach some good batsman wicket keeping. It will still be better than Akmal's torture of a batting.

  • Guduji71 on June 8, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    The innings from Misbah against WI is a slap on the face on those who call him Tuk Tuk..... and other rubbish. He is the best batsman we have in this current batting line up. I think Nasier Jamshed should be told off for the shot he played to get out. He was in he was set he was playing shots all along the ground and as soon as he completed his fifty he played a shot which cost match to Pakistan. This is very selfish. The management should take action against this attitude. Moreover, I think it was a mistake to bring Imran Farhat instead of inform Azhar Ali for this series. He should open with Nasir Jamshed. Hafeez is not good for one down position he should come at no.6. Umar Akmal is still good enough batsman for Pakistan. Wahab and all the other bowlers were excellent against WI.

  • Ray24 on June 8, 2013, 6:34 GMT

    We really don't understand why Imran Farhat and Shoaib Malik are in the team? If Kamran is there, he should open, he's only good in that position, although I'd love to see him out of the team. Why can't Umar Akmal keep, just to allow his brother to keep his place in the team I guess. We need a hitter or two down the order, and about time, Hamad Azam is brought in place of Shoaib. And Ahmad Shahzad in place of Farhat. Hafeez can be dropped down the order if we have Akmal, Shahzad and Nasir, with Shafiq as 3 and Misbah as 4 down.

  • on June 8, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    I think Pakistan has got world class bowlers and batsmen as well. Ispite of having that potential why they loosing most of the matches. ???????????????????

    It is clearly the leadership lacking there?? The selectors need to find a leader like Imran khan. People like Afrid or Misbah can't lead a world class team they can win Bangladesh or Nedreland like teams

  • Qaasssssssssssssssim on June 8, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    I dont understand,Pakistan bring in players like Abdur Rehman and Ahmad Shahzad,but they put the same old players like malik,akmal,wahab riaz.Imran Farhat is no good.I prefer akmal instead of Farhat.If you want to insert Akmal in the team than it should be u.akmal not k.akmal,and if you still want k.akmal,then let him open.Atleast ha can get 20 to 30 runs.So this should be the squad for the match against south africa,1.Nasir Jamshed 2.Ahmad Shahzad 3.Hafeez 4.Shafiq 5.misbah 6.u.akmal 7.ehsan adil 8.Abdur rehman 9.Junaid Khani 10.Saeed Ajmal 11.Mohammad Irfan

  • venkatesh018 on June 8, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    Aren't there any replacements for Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal. Surely Umar Akmal however reckless he may be, needs to be selected.

  • on June 8, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    One of the best ODI knocks i've seen

  • on June 8, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    good article. had to feel for misbah. 1st 3 to get out can hide behind moving ball but rest of them can not. farhat played a very very widish ball. even hunaid khan whose job should be to support misbah was chasing ball like he is a batting great. bowlers did bowl their heart out but simply not enough runs on board.

  • Zahidsaltin on June 8, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    NO DOUBT Misbah is a very good batsman and had it not been him, Pakistan could have been folded out many a times in the near past. The worst thing with Misbah is that he isn't pushing for young batsmen like Haris Sohail. Batsmen of batting averages in 20s should have been discarded a long ago and Umar Akmal, Haris Sohail and Umar Amin should be played in the matches instead of just keep them hanging around. Just look at Asad Shafiq with 40 matches and an average of 28 stilling is looking for his first century. Isn't it like putting our batting standards too low?

  • on June 8, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    Batting is the problem area of pakistan team but there is no batting coach in the team. No one is taking the responsibility as a batsman. Every one is trying to scure his position after scoring 30s and 40s. I think the turning point of the match was the careless short of nasir jamshed, which he played after scoring his fifty.