Misbah and Younis retire May 14, 2017

Saying goodbye with a hug

As Misbah-ul-Haq approached the pitch for his final Test innings, Younis Khan walked up to embrace him. It was the perfect moment
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Farewell, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan © AFP

My kids had done something, maybe a crap, potentially lit the back of the house on fire, or had a severe head injury brought on by jumping off a food container onto a death trap. So I missed it.  

I was sad, because what I wanted to see more than anything else in the world was the two men meet in the middle. The heart and brains of modern Pakistan cricket, and probably the lungs, bowels, kidney and three of the four limbs as well. 

Eventually, I slipped away for long enough to watch them bat a few balls together and have one mid-pitch conversation, before the next calamity from my boys dragged me away. Then finally, when I got back to the room, the stream had died. So I had to watch it on my phone.  

What I did see, what I had seen so many times before, was Misbah-ul-Haq, my Misbah, getting down to slog sweep. Every time I saw him do it, I just felt a bit uncomfortable, like I was about to lose him, or adore him more, often both at the same time. He never seemed to have that worry at all, he was lost in the shot, the one that seemed to define him, the defensive man who liked to smash the ball on occasion. It was like the family man who doesn't cheat on his wife or taxes, gets up early to exercise, tucks his kids into bed every night, has immaculate credit, but also enjoys, just once a month, naked spelunking.

This time the slog sweep ended his innings, and his entire career. It was, I am sure, the way he wanted to go. 

Then I was left with Younis Khan, the man I saw jump around in England, who was so finished according to some that he only averaged 59 on the following tour of Australia. The man who I had seen most of the time locked in a TV screen playing in front of a handful of people because his countrymen committed an atrocity. And now Younis was out in the middle again as Pakistan tried their best to screw up everything. Had he gone into the demolition business, he wouldn't have seen anywhere near as many collapses as this. 

And for a while it looked like Younis, a World T20 winner and the conqueror of everywhere in Test cricket, would save Pakistan again. But instead, he was out to a sweep, a man who played first-class cricket in the 1990s finishing his career 10,000 Test runs later.

There were probably guards of honour for Younis and Misbah. I am sure there was something emotional I missed, something that would have touched me. But I didn't see it because once Misbah was out something happened in the house and I had to rush off again. I saw the Younis wicket online hours later.

But this is how I saw their entire careers. They have been legends of cricket while I have been working in cricket, but I never covered a Pakistan series in Pakistan or the UAE. I've only covered Pakistan a few times, most of which was in the last year. The early morning starts in the UAE don't match up with my body clock, and there always seemed to be another series I needed to watch more. 

Even now, I want to write about this more. I have written about both men a lot, but not about both men together. But my son wants to play. I tell him that I have to write about two men who have been important to me. He says, "okay daddy". I ask for ten minutes, "that's too long, two minutes is faster," is the reply. Another victim of the T20 generation. 

So even this piece, which could have been 20,000 words, ends up a patchy, half-written ode to these great men. But I did finally see them meet in the middle for the last time.

The final thing I saw was a tweet from Osman Samiuddin, probably the man who taught me the most about Younis and Misbah, a hero of mine as a cricket writer who has become my friend and editor. The footage he put up was just a dodgy smart phone footage of his TV. 

Misbah walks out slowly, you only see him from behind, fiddling with his helmet, and looking a bit stiff. I think about all those times he looked like the fittest guy in the team despite his age, but now he walks like he's 42, and then he swaps his bat from one hand to the other as he sees someone walk towards him. It's Younis, and the first time I saw this, before Younis had even come up to Misbah, I was welling up.

It was exactly as I would want to see it: Misbah, slow moving and closed off, looking a bit worse for wear, while Younis, gloves off, comes down the wicket with purpose, not caring much for the state of the game, to embrace his friend and put a fatherly hand around his shoulder. And that is it, the last bit. It's what they have always done, and will never do again, forget the emotions and go about their business.

If their shots were the right way for these two warriors to leave the crease, this was the right way for me to see them on a Test ground for the last time: on the phone, from an Osman tweet, on a bootleg video that cuts out just before they go about trying to save Pakistan again.

I showed my son but he's too young to understand. He just sees terrible footage of two men hugging. In those 16 seconds I see everything that reminds me of why I love these two cricketers, and at first I cry because of how beautiful the moment is, and then I keep crying because I realise I won't see them again.

I've decided not to watch the last day of the Test. I've already said goodbye. Miss you Younis, miss you Misbah, thank you for the hug, and everything before it. You are the men that made me love Pakistan as much as I did in my youth.

I want to say a million things more but I have to go now because my son is pulling my hair. And while we play with lego bricks I need to tell him about the two men I saw hug today.

Jarrod Kimber is a writer for ESPNcricinfo. @ajarrodkimber

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SumitSahai on May 17, 2017, 12:03 GMT

    If ever you get bored of cricket, you should start writing scripts for Bollywood. No one there can combine humour, honesty, tribute and raw emotion like this.

  • sajjadparrey on May 17, 2017, 4:41 GMT

    As usual, brilliant and masterpiece tribute from Jarrod for two outstanding stalwarts. Missing MisYou fondly.

  • Mohammed8156 on May 15, 2017, 21:01 GMT

    Wow, Jarrod - wearing your emotions on your sleeve should have convinced all the doubters, the trolls of Pakistani cricket, that there still remains something magical from these lads from the land of the Karakorum - those who drink from the melting glaciers as they form the rivers that bring us life in the charming and mysterious land of Pakistan! The fact that Younis and Misbah have touched the heart of a warrior from afar, from a nation against whom we have battled so often and usually come second best, convinces me that there is a place for Pakistani cricket and cricketers in the hearts of all that love this game - even with all that happens around us that often we cannot control!

  • Desihungama on May 15, 2017, 15:04 GMT

    Jarrod - This was as emotional as it could get. You just know what buttons to press. Keep the good work.

  • cricfan09645384 on May 15, 2017, 13:47 GMT

    These are cricketing warriors. When they are out in the middle never give them a second life. If you do, they get you to pay for it dearly.

  • Lewin Zoe on May 15, 2017, 11:29 GMT

    Oh this so touching, bringing tears to my eye. I think that was the best and emotional moment of their farewell #MisYou

  • brainbox on May 15, 2017, 11:15 GMT

    Fantastic tribute from Jarrod to two legends of world cricket and great ambassadors of Pakistan.

  • cricfan52531939 on May 15, 2017, 10:41 GMT

    Lovely stuff, Jarrod, just lovely.

  • ibi1 on May 15, 2017, 8:51 GMT

    dats a million dollar column.. such a touchy dat even i had tears into my eyes. thank u kimber.. brilliant

  • QadirKhan on May 15, 2017, 8:43 GMT

    my Favorite memory of Yunas 117 vs India in Mohali and Misbah's century at lords in his first ever match there.