Pakistan v South Africa in UAE 2010 October 11, 2010

Misbah the best cricket brain in Pakistan - Lawson


Former Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson believes Misbah-ul-Haq has the "best cricket brain" in Pakistan and is well-placed to handle the Test captaincy, surprisingly handed to the 36-year-old last week.

Misbah was thought to be out of national reckoning when he wasn't picked for the Asia Cup or the tour to England earlier this year. But a disastrous sequence of captaincy appointments left the board, in their own words, with little choice.

Lawson is well-placed having been coach during Misbah's return to international cricket three years ago during the 2007 World T20, a tournament which he nearly won for Pakistan. That sparked the most productive phase of his career and it was in Lawson's time, between 2007 and 2008, that he established himself in the middle order; in five Tests under Lawson, he averaged 78 with two hundreds and a fifty; he averaged 41 in 28 ODIs, and over 67 in the ten Twenty20s Pakistan played with Lawson in charge.

Misbah was vice-captain to Shoaib Malik during that time and took over on one occasion, leading Pakistan to an ODI win over India in the 2008 Asia Cup in Karachi. "He definitely has the best cricket brain and intellect in Pakistan cricket," Lawson told ESPNcricinfo. "He has a statesman-like demeanour which so many Pakistan captains have lacked and he handles adversity analytically not emotionally. He knows how to get the best out of players and he is a winner, note his outstanding domestic record as a leader."

Several former players, including Wasim Akram have expressed their surprise at the appointment. Mostly it stems from Misbah's age - even though he is, for now, captain for only two Tests against South Africa - but also from his batting form.

His comeback ended initially in September 2009, when he was dropped for poor form. He returned, however, during the subsequent tour of New Zealand and Australia at the insistence of Mohammad Yousuf, who was captain at the time.

More disappointing returns on that tour formed part of a broader decline since Lawson's departure. He averages 24 in nine Tests since Lawson left in October 2008, and 21 in 19 T20Is. An average of nearly 40 in 16 ODIs since then is not enough to assuage the concerns of some that he doesn't command an automatic place in the XI.

"He works very hard on his fitness and his cricket skills so physically he will be in good shape," Lawson said. "The question is simply one of age and reactions. Has he got the sharpness to be productive at international level at 36? The captain leading or failing by example can have a significant effect on any team but especially Pakistan. He deserves this but Ideally he should have been captain six years ago."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • arif on October 15, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    @Kbloania - 1st Things 1st, no point talking about the stats cos they dont reveal the true picture. But now that u ve spoken abt stats lets see how sachin fares in it In Australia - Average of 58.53 In SA - Average of 43 In New Zealand - Average of 50 in England - Average of 62 In West Indies - Average of 48 So all in all a handy average of 53 in all these so called 'bouncy pitches'. Would u still say that he is a 'flat pitch bully'?? And one thing i neva understand is ur obsession wit Fast Bowlers and Umpires. When u have medium fast bowlers doing ur job y do u need a fast bowler and today zaheer is considered as one of the best bowlers in the world. Coming to Umpires, do u know that the Umpires training and breeding ground is in India at NCA. So all umpires that officiate in matches are trained here wat more do u want now? And Clarifying one more thing, am not making fun of others i was jus stating facts. It was u who was making fun of others needlessly wit no facts and bias

  • Tribin on October 14, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    @ klobania :(Courtesy Green_Gelly) :An overlooked statistic: Sachin Tendulkar has featured in 6 of India's 10 successful 4th innings chases of 200+, and has scored 341 runs at an average of 113.67 in the 2nd innings in these games, remaining unbeaten on 3 occasions.

  • khurram on October 14, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    @dannydazel55 dude if u really think that pak has no proper batsmen then why on earth india is far behind to pak if u go for pak vs ind stats. man i agree batsmen play key role but its bowling attack that win matches for teams more often than not. tell me any geniune pacer or international level umpire india has produced during last 20 yrs or so. first go n find them then make fun of other teams. anyways, mohammad yousuf being the highest run getter in any yr which ur very own flat pitches bullies sachin or sehwag have failed to achieve in their prolong careers of 20 n 12 yrs. if u think tendulkar gets better to silent his critics we want to play another world cup or two to make sure india couldnot won any of them

  • Ashish on October 14, 2010, 5:22 GMT

    Misbah being the captain is not surprising at all.... its jus like u wake up n find that u r in mars n not earth and then not be surprised bout it, come on PCB, seriously, stop giving lame reasons that he's got good cricketing brains, then y doesn't his career stats support that, oly 19 test matches n oly 2 centuries??? Even though m not happy wit t decision i juts hope its the right one n Pak can go nowhere but all the way to the top... well, not above India... And all u Anti-Sachin, Sachin is a GOD of CRICKET, no matter what u say is gonna change that, the thing bout him is not only his batting, but his attitude towards the game, his love for the game, have u ever seen him SLEDGING or getting involved in SCANDALS?? He's the most clean and appreciated cricketer to walk on this planet... so what if he hasn't won the World Cup, he has won a Billion hearts worldwide, that's what matters at the end peeps.. CHEERS!!!!!! Hats off to Sachin, hope to c more runs off his bat.!!!

  • Tribin on October 13, 2010, 18:45 GMT

    @klobania: dude.. .unfortunately there are 10 more players playing this game with him.. remember 2003 worldcup final??? 1996 semi-final??? buddy... that chap is playing his heart out for the past so many years but unfortunately there werent enough players to support him. No use blaming him dude... and dude.. one thing you are forgetting is there is no point playing brilliantly well in the second innings if you dont have goods delivered in the first and even the second innings is getting better by every match. @dannydazil55 - Good point dude. Umar gul being the top scorer for more than 80% of a 4 match test series doesnt inspire confidence:-)

  • arif on October 13, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    @ Klobania - Its funny ppl reacting to India and SRT when you have a news and an issue relating to PAK. That just shows how everyone is obsessed with both of them. And forget about beating India on 'any day any ground', first find a batsmen who has the capabilities of lasting a test innings. how will u explain a side getting bowled out for less than 100 in an innings in 2 of their last 4 tests. For winning a test you are gonna need batsmen who can play for long hours. Hard to find a logic when u say pak can beat india without a proper test batsmen. i would also request you anti-SRT ppl to keep up their criticisms cos he's gonna take a hammer and shut up everyones mouth in the days to come...which is fruitful to both India and him...cheers on the victory guys!!!!

  • khurram on October 13, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    @T.R.o.y man lets talk abt stats can u tell me sachins 4th innings averages or n no. of tons outside sub-continent i mean in bouncy tracks likes of australia, england n africa. u r right he has been playing for over 20 yrs man if any non-cricketing person plays for over 20 yrs in same flat pitches he can also produce any havocs if sachin is doing so then it is nothing to feel cheer about. btw tell me how many world cups has sachin won for india in his prolong career of 20 yrs? i guess none infact he hasn't won any big tournament for india. if he has been part of australia he might have been forced to get retired atleast 10 yrs ago. i think only scoring runs in flat pitches when these runs r not getting u anything special like world cup r useless.

  • faheem on October 13, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    A batsman at age of 36 with 19 test matches and only two hundreds and four fifties and was out for at least one year from international cricket is eligible for Captaincy. In my opinion if he has best cricket brains then he should couch other player. As he has only brains not techniques or temperament. Faheem, Akbar, Islamabad

  • Sidath on October 13, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    Guys, lets give Misbah a break. I mean who knows what he could come up with. All those who criticise him now will have no words left to say if he shines as captain.

  • Stark on October 12, 2010, 20:26 GMT

    I don't know why but........

    I think Gul would make the perfect test captain!

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