Misbah sees Azhar, Umar Akmal as future captains
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has urged the PCB to start grooming youngsters as future leaders. Misbah, who turned 40 in May, said that players such as Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal could take over from him eventually.
"It is important for the board to decide who they want as captain. They should start grooming and giving them the confidence," Misbah said on the sidelines of the ongoing summer camp at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "To me there are lots of players who could be given the captaincy... like Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal. Both are doing captaincy (in domestic cricket) and I think when they get some experience you can safely hand them the responsibility."
Pakistan suffered a mini-captaincy crisis after Shahid Afridi abruptly quit Test cricket in 2010 in the middle of the England tour and his replacement Salman Butt, who was marked as a long-term prospect, was banned after the spot-fixing scandal. Misbah took over the captaincy then and has since been leading the side in Tests and ODIs.
Mohammad Hafeez was given the T20 captaincy in May 2012 after Misbah decided to step down. Hafeez was also vice-captain to Misbah in Tests and ODIs for the last two years but after Pakistan's poor performance in the World T20 in Bangladesh earlier this year he quit from all posts.
Despite his age Misbah is still one of the fittest and most prolific players to lead Pakistan. However, with the 2015 World Cup ahead and Misbah in the twilight years of his career, Pakistan still haven't marked a potential captain with assertive leadership qualities.
"I don't think there is any problem as we have players who can take over the responsibility," said Misbah, ruling out any stumbling in the post-Misbah era. "All the youngsters understand the game and are doing the hard work and performing but you will take some time, one-two years. Both [Akmal and Azhar] have cricketing sense and that's what you need in the future."
When asked if he was facing any risk to his captaincy ahead of the World Cup as Shahid Afridi has said he is open to the job, Misbah said he did not think about matters not in his control. "I have always said that captaincy is not in your hand, it's in the hand of the cricket board," he said. "For me the important thing is to stay fit and give my best performance. My focus is on this, that how I have to perform according to my best ability and that's what I am trying. Rests of the things are not in your control and I don't even think about it."
The ongoing month-long camp will end on Thursday after extensive physical training and skill development. Misbah said the camp would be beneficial in the long run. "You might not get an immediate result. However, each player knows it has enhanced endurance. Your base is on your fitness in any sport and when you are fit you have better performance in all the three departments. Especially in such heat when you push yourself you increase your endurance, your strength is improved and you get improved in all the departments.
"The biggest motivation is your passion about this game. If you don't have passion then you just spend time and you don't enjoy. When you have passion you compete with others and you try to be the best. Not only me the youngsters have very good fitness and all the senior players have worked hard and tried to push themselves. In future if we continue to push, our fielding level will increase automatically. In batting and bowling when your fitness is good it automatically improves too."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson