Pakistan v England 2011-12 December 31, 2011

Mohsin defends Misbah's safety-first approach

ESPNcricinfo staff

Mohsin Khan, the acting Pakistan coach, has come out in defence of captain Misbah-ul-Haq's tactics that have been perceived as defensive by some, saying that his safety-first approach is due to the fear of failure. Misbah, 37, was handed the reins after the spot-fixing controversy, and while his methods did not always make for attractive cricket, they shephered Pakistan through one of their most successful years across formats.

"I think you have to understand that at his age he still worries about the fact that if he fails in one or two matches the critics will be after him and he could be dropped," Mohsin said in an exclusive interview with television channel Geo Super. "That is why he at times tends to play it safe. But he has gained in confidence as a captain, and I have been trying to tell him to not think about these things and just focus on doing what he is doing best at the moment: leading the team by example."

Misbah's stint as captain began with a tough Test assignment late last year against South Africa in the UAE. Few gave the depleted Pakistan side - sans Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - a chance, but they held South Africa to a creditable 0-0 draw. Misbah then oversaw a 1-0 Test series win in New Zealand, and played an integral part in the ODI series triumph on the same tour, under Shahid Afridi's captaincy.

Pakistan exceeded expectations to reach the World Cup semi-finals, and continued with their winning ways in the West Indies, though Shahid Afridi had a fall-out with the team management. Pakistan won the one-day leg and came back to square the Tests 1-1. After that tour, Misbah was handed the reins of the limited-overs side as well, and led Pakistan to victories in all formats against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The winning run in Tests was set up by the solid, if unexciting, methods of Taufeeq Umar, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali and Misbah himself, with Mohammad Hafeez the only free-flowing scorer in the top order.

Mohsin was full of praise for Misbah's leadership methods. "I think Misbah is an intelligent player and composed captain, and he communicates well with the players. He has also quickly picked up the confidence to push for victories, plus he is batting extremely well. I tell him to just go out and get runs and don't waste any innings. He has served Pakistan cricket very well."

Mohsin also explained that his role as coach was to focus on the mental aspect of the game and ensure he got the maximum out of the side, rather than spoon-feed his players on the skills front. "I think I have got along well with the players in the team. People need to understand that nowadays the job of a coach is to mentally make his players stronger, and just guide them and discuss strategies with them. A coach is a planner. I don't think you can teach anything more in batting terms to Misbah or Younis at this stage.

"I have told the players that being professionals we are also supposed to deliver; no compromises on that. My mantra is to give your 100% on the field; win or lose, that is part of the sport. Millions of people pray for our success and we shouldn't let them feel we let them down or didn't try hard enough."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sam on January 3, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    Expect England to come agressive at you Mr. "I am the best coach" and the poor tactics of aged captian/coach will be tested extensively. The current methods are good for par and below par teams but not for top 5 test teams. If they even get a hint of your weakness they will hunt you down. Cricket is no longer just a gentlmen game its more of smart and tactical gentlemen game.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Pakistan-India are my two favourite teams, until they face each other. Shahid Afridi is the best all-rounder one can have in the side, I will play in all formats, and utilize him well in bowling as well. Good Luck, Pakistan.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    While Mohsin has done a great job for Pakistan team, I don't agree with some of his statements. No matter how experienced a player is, there always exist room for improvement. Yes coach should be a planner but in my opinion making players mentally tough should primarily be a psychologist's job. Coach should focus more on the skills and planning domain.

  • cric on January 2, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    with this mindset its hard to beat england.... if pak plays with this mindset they'll draw the matches that could be easily won(first test against lanka).. they can beat england only if they play good,aggressive cricket......

  • Aamir on January 1, 2012, 22:04 GMT

    @b_imtiaz19 Afridi is the right choice to have as a captain in ODI's and T20's. I disagree with someone like Hafeez being a captain in tests as he isn't much of an encouraging player. For tests, let Azhar Ali captain Pakistan against a weak team and see how it goes. Younis is the best choice but Azhar could be the future. I would think that Taufeeq could be a good choice as well as he knows what's going with the team and what could be improved. What do you guys think about Azhar leading Pakistan?

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    people please stop criticizing the pakistani team.instead support them for the joy they have given to the fans in 2011.

  • Bilal on January 1, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    Many people think that Misbah is a bad captain and Afridi is better. They both are good captains, but we have to look at age. Misbah is 37 and has a high average. While Afridi is 31 with a low batting average, but a great bowler.The best choice right now for odi and twenty20 is afridi, and test is youinis. Any other options?

  • I on January 1, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    Still think it's far too optimistic to think Amir will ever play international cricket again - I don't see it happening. Is anyone else concerned about the new delivery Ajmal's supposed to be unveiling? I mean, from a Pakistan perspective, not for England. The last time this happened with Saqlain's 'teesra', Sehwag pretty much ended his career.

  • anthony on January 1, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    @Lillian Thomas....are you serious? Recall Umer Akmal and Shahid Afridi?.....Afridi does not have the temprament to play a test innings and his bowling would be sub par in the test forum where batsmen arent under pressure to make runs at a fast rate and hence make less mistakes. Umer Akmal is not a test quality batsman...this whole story that is circulating about all of a sudden Pak batsmen dont score runs fast enough and misbah is safety first is just pathetic nit picking by people better off watching 20/20 and leaving test cricket to the test fans and test batsmen like misbah, taufeeq, azar and younis

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    Whatever, I am glad this big mouthed person is soon going to be sent packing. His incessant need to stroke his own ego can be noted in all those sentences where he speaks about his personal coaching style. As if that's what has brought the team success.

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