Misbah critical of Pakistan batting failure
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan Test and ODI captain, has demanded that his underperforming batsmen step up and take responsibility after his team crashed out of the Champions Trophy in England following three successive defeats.
"I think our batsmen must understand their game, the conditions which they are facing and then apply themselves," Misbah said on his return from England. "It's the responsibility of the batsmen. It's not that we were short on practice. We did prepare well for the tour but conditions in England were tough and our batsmen couldn't handle them. I suppose that's been the one area where we've lacked - scoring consistent runs. We had these same batting problems on the South Africa tour so we now have to try to sort them."
Pakistan were sorely let down by their batsmen in the Champions Trophy. They failed to cross 200 - bowled out for 170 against West Indies, 167 against South Africa and 165 in a rain-affected match against India to get eliminated from the group stage. Only Misbah, the fifth-leading run-getter in ODIs this year with 548 runs, hit two half-centuries. The other senior batsmen Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal performed poorly. Pakistan's batting was also found wanting on their tour of South Africa earlier this year, where they lost all three Tests and the one-day series 3-2.
Misbah insisted batting is a serious weakness Pakistan have to overcome as they look to build for the 2015 World Cup. "The simple thing is that batsmen aren't able to handle themselves. There are technical faults and we need to address them. Whenever we go abroad we will face such problems so we have to address them sooner or later. If we don't improve, don't learn, then such things will go on.
"We will have meetings in the next two-three days to finalise the team (for the West Indies tour). Changes are necessary and we have to sit down and discuss, make changes and plan who are the players to be groomed for the future. We can rebuild the team in the next two years by grooming players who are good enough.
"It's not like we are picking the wrong players. We always try to select players who are good for the team, players who can win us games. These are the same set of players who have won us games. But now that they have not performed, you are saying they were sifarshi [unmerited recommendation] players. This is not the issue, they have done well in the past as well."
Pakistan play five ODIs against West Indies starting July 14, the first two in Guyana and the remaining three in St Lucia. The ODIs will be followed by two Twenty20 internationals in St Vincent. Misbah was wary about the challenge in West Indies and believed the onus would be on his batsmen again.
"We will face slow pitches on the West Indies tour and need to graft our innings," Misbah said. "If the batsmen give the bowlers a total of more than 250 then they can win us matches. I think it will again be a test of our batting in the West Indies."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here