Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, Dubai, 4th day October 26, 2013

Misbah questions Pakistan's domestic set-up


Misbah-ul-Haq, understandably, spends a lot of his time in front of the media explaining that not being able to play international cricket at home has adversely affected the Pakistan team. After their defeat in Dubai - a first for them at this venue - he went even further and questioned whether a more rigorous domestic set-up is also needed for them to thrive in conditions which suit them already.

"It may be due to the first-class system. If you are coming through a tough first-class system, playing really tough teams, facing tough bowlers and batsmen, it automatically comes when you play competitive cricket," he said. "Otherwise, if you are in an easy competition, when you are playing top sides, you will struggle. We must make our first class more competitive. That is why we are not mentally strong."

Pakistan's domestic season had not started before this series was played, although they played warm-up matches before leaving for the UAE, but it is a competition in which matches are often shorter than four-days and five-wicket hauls are not uncommon. If it is impacting on members of the international team, then it could explain why their inconsistencies in the batting department, which ultimately cost them a series win against another world No.1.

After scoring 442 in the first innings of the first Test, Pakistan looked a completely different side when they were bundled out for 99 on the first day in Dubai. Misbah knew that innings had cost his side the series.

"We are disappointed given the conditions here," he said. Before the series Misbah made special mention of how his batsmen would be better on these surfaces than they were in Zimbabwe and South Africa because the pitches suited their style of play. Graeme Smith noted Pakistan's batsmen are "far more comfortable with less pace and bounce that they have here."

Still, Pakistan managed to fold in the first innings and slump to 2 for 2 in the second, raising questions about their top-order that were thought to be on their way to being answered after their showing in Abu Dhabi. Khurram Manzoor followed up his century with a pair and Shan Masood made one start and then a duck to ensure the uncertainty in the top two, which has been a long-running issue in Pakistan cricket, exacerbated by Mohammad Hafeez's loss of form, continues.

Instead of looking elsewhere, though, Misbah wants some continuity. "If you keep changing things, it doesn't help. Opening is one of the toughest jobs. You need some experience. Even the best players struggle sometimes. You just need to be patient," he said. "To keep on changing the openers is not the solution. These guys need to learn. They need more chances to understand what Test cricket is."

If they had that, and the grounding from their domestic game, Misbah believes 99 all out could have been avoided and the session that lost Pakistan the Test may never have been. "It was just one session and if we could reverse that then that thing that is associated with us, that we are just so bad in one hour and one session, would not hurt us. We want to improve on that in future. We don't want these sorts of sessions. We need more character, otherwise ups and downs can really hurt the team."

As South Africa showed in their innings and Pakistan did in their second attempt, the pitch in Dubai had runs in it throughout the game. It also had appreciable turn, which Pakistan's spinners were never able to exploit by having a target to defend. Misbah believed even a lead under of 200 could have given Pakistan a chance. "If we had something of 150 or 200 runs in the last innings, the kind of patches and rough on the pitch, the kind of spinners we have, it could have been very interesting."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chaudry_Cricket on October 30, 2013, 7:57 GMT

    Finally someone agrees with me that our domestic cricket is a farce to say the least, there are too many teams, flat tracks etc in our domestic cricket.

    We should drop regional cricket and split it up into Sind, Punjab, NWF, Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Islamabad. This way you have less teams and more quality. We should get international curators to help us make fast and bouncy pitches, some rank turners so we are able to identify who is worth investing in and who is not. We should invest in a lot of club cricket and school cricket a NCA should be set up in every state. This will improve our cricket tenfolds.

  • mzm149 on October 28, 2013, 17:48 GMT

    No doubt weak domestic setup is the main reason for Pakistan's poor performance but there are other factors as well which should be taken into account. Favoritism towards certain players, dropping in form players for no good reason, quota players of certain cities, bringing in failed players again and again in hope that they will change their technique overnight, persisting with senior players even if they fail continuously, fear of trying youngsters are some of the points which come to mind.

  • gujratwalla on October 28, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    Misbah is right to an extent.There has never been a shortage of talent in Pakistan but we do not have the advanced,responsible and unbiased ccoaching and selection system in the provinces.Many gifted young players are ignored because they come from the less affluent social society.An example of this is the coninued selection of the Akmal clan,Imran Farhat,Hafeez etc .In the present time there is need for more combative domestic cricket and frankly this can be achieved if the financial rewards are there.Misbah does not have many years of cricket left and Younis is sadly a spent force.I was very dismayed at the way he got out in this test in both innings.Azhar Ali has talent so has Shafiq but i would like to call back Umar Akmal to the Test side and say good bye to Younis.Or he should go by himself by now to avoid further disgrace.

  • Tellthetruth on October 28, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    I just have to say one thing: please bring in Sami Aslam in the ODI squad. He is the future of Pakistan cricket.

  • likeintcricket on October 28, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    I have predicted that Pakistan will find it difficult to handle SA in the remaining Test. SA has a very good coaching staff and they found the right line to bowl to rookie openers. Azhar is in hopelessly bad form and Younis was just not into playing a Test inning after his ouster from limited overs game. We also have longest tail of all the test playing nations. You just cannot bet against SA when you only have one good batsman in your rank. I wasn't giving them much chances after Zimbabwae's tour and first test win was a big surprise. But loosing to lower rank teams on any type of wickets suggest that there is something wrong. I think their only option is to work on Nasir Jamshed, Umer Akmal ,Ahmad Shehzad and Azhar Ali. These batsman have some issues with their technique but they can handle both the fast and spin bowling and make runs quickly.

  • lali23 on October 28, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Lack of professionalism of pakistan is always a big question ,Pakitani player was not playing on South African Pitch ,,so why all team collapse just on 99?? they play through-out the years on these kind of pitches, But we must admire South Africa how they come back after 1st test defeat, they adjust very well ,manzoor must learn from smith to how convert 130 runs to 200 and shan also learn performing in 1 match is not enough, younis must understand his responsibilty , we see miracles just in Inzamam, waseem ,waqar, miandad & Imran,s era.Expecting miracles from these kind of unprofessional cricketers is a childish dream. Al we see was a display of professionalism of S.A and unprofessional behavior of Pak.

  • dummy4fb on October 28, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    @imran mujtaba; i think you have serious statistics issue, if you look at the score all other are doing and compare it with Misbah, even a blind person can judge. He is the only one who consistently performing in the team. He is Highest ODI runn getter And also highest Test runs in 2013.

  • yeh_cheezzz on October 28, 2013, 0:05 GMT

    @imaranmujtaba Misbah was the one who did perform in the first test and He was the lone reason why we won the series against west indies in west indies

  • Fogu on October 27, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    Imran Mujtaba has no clue. Without Misbah, this team would lose majority of the games. I do not understand some PK fans. Instead of appreciating Misbah, who is a class act, they denigrate him. Misbah has a point. With the political situation and no home test,PK team will suffer. PK has good players but if the situation does not change, gradually PK standards will go down. Any team in the world will be happy to have Misbah.

  • PAK_CricFan on October 27, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    i am not defending the anyone on the issue of Pakistan selection of Shan & Umer Amin but i think most of us are not aware of this fact that Shan was selected as he studies n played in england leagues so they thought he can play SA pace attack well but this is yet to see that he is good enough for test level or not. Umer Amin is really coming out of our domestic system a player of RWP/ISL where tracks are really good for fast bowling and most importantly he was among the top run getter of last season for that reason he was picked up in the national side another plus point that he in not that bad option in the middle order. Please guys dont start comparing players by copy pasting their Averages from player profile cos it cant show the complete story of their last or recent season form. Umar Amin is the one player who deserve this short. Shan will open against srilanka and adnan might loose his spot to sarfraz if he performs in SA ODIs.

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