South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Centurion, 3rd day February 24, 2013

Misbah makes plea for more Tests

Pakistan's inexperience against pace bowling showed in their whitewashing by South Africa - and Misbah-ul-Haq believes the solution is clear

Misbah-ul-Haq did not confront Pakistan's whitewash with humiliation or anger. He met it with a plea. He asked for Pakistan to play more Test cricket, in conditions that will challenge them adequately.

Pakistan's next series is five months away. They travel to West Indies for two matches before meeting South Africa in the United Arab Emirates. They have not played at home since 2009 and have not played experienced pitches and conditions where swing and seam prevail since early 2011, when they visited New Zealand. Misbah is convinced this is hurting them and he wants effort to be made to give them more cricket.

"Not playing as much Test cricket as other countries is a concern for us and whoever does the schedule should consider this. We are only playing four or five Tests a year. That's a big worry," he said. "It's a worry for developing good Test players and for making sure we have enough players for Pakistan. We also need different pitches to play on. When we go to Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England, it is an area of concern.

"We have to really consider that we need to get good sporting pitches for fast bowlers. We need pitches which have more bounce and more pace. That will help us with technique and to adjust to the conditions here."

Pakistan's inability to adapt was most evident in their batting. They only managed one innings total of more than 300 - that was Cape Town on the tamest surface of the series. Against a bowling attack that was well-versed in exploiting every last inch of movement or bounce on offer, they were exposed mercilessly.

What caused most of their struggles was uncertainty and lack of footwork. As Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott asked questions by ensuring their lengths were just back of good ones, everyone from Mohammad Hafeez to Younis Khan did not know whether to move forward or back.

Dale Steyn's pace and movement and Morne Morkel's bouncer were always expected to cause problems for Pakistan. Some may have expected they would deal with the subtlety better but even that proved a tough ask. "You need to play more in these conditions to be able to get used to it. It's all about experiencing these conditions," Misbah explained. "We were playing against the number one team in the world in their home conditions. We need to prepare much more professionally for that. South Africa exploited the conditions. They beat us in all departments."

"You need to play more in these conditions to be able to get used to it. We were playing against the number one team in their home conditions. They beat us in all departments"

With only one practice match before the first Test and a two-day game between the first and second fixtures, Misbah blamed conditions more than anything else for Pakistan's performances. It is the conditions that he thinks have made South Africa the best Test side around at the moment, and maybe he would know.

Pakistan have played two No. 1 teams in the last year or so, having beaten England in the UAE in 2012. Misbah thinks Graeme Smith's men may have the edge but primarily because they were at home. "The major difference is the conditions," he said. "When a number one team is playing in their conditions, everything is going their way. They can exploit their conditions. They know how to bat and bowl here. Conditions really affected the results."

A 3-0 scoreline is more a reflection of how superior South Africa are rather a sign of Pakistan's inferiority. Misbah knows that, which is why he will focus on the individual successes rather than the collective downfall.

"The way Asad Shafiq played is one of them," he said. "There were centuries by him and Younis Khan. Rahat Ali took six wickets here. Saeed Ajmal took ten in Cape Town. We performed in patches but we needed to put together performances as a team."

Had Junaid Khan not been injured, had Taufeeq Umar not had to go home before the series started, had Haris Sohail been available, perhaps things could have been different for Pakistan. Misbah thinks so. "A disappointment for us was the injuries that kept on hitting us," he said. "We had to keep changing batting line-ups and bowling attacks. We were really hurt by that." Pakistan did not play the same XI in any of the three Tests and the changes to their pace pack were all injury enforced.

There was also the issue of selection. Had Abdur Rehman featured in the Newlands Test, things may have been different. While Misbah isolated that as the one instance where Pakistan, the team rather than solitary players, were in a good position, he did not blame it for the defeat. "In the second Test match, we were in a good position but the batting collapse is our major issue and we have to just sort it out," he said.

Dissection of reasons for the whitewash will continue but for now, Pakistan have to look forward because they have another month, and seven matches, in South Africa. Misbah is upbeat that the Twenty20 and ODI series could bring Pakistan similar rewards as they did New Zealand earlier in the summer. Pakistan are strong in both formats, while South Africa are in transition. "It is a different story when you play in a different format," Misbah said. "It will be really good to have new players come in. They come in with fresh minds and that will really help the team."

Although the slew of limited-overs matches means results are rarely remembered, for Pakistan it will be a way to leave South Africa with reputation intact and that is what Misbah demanded of his men. "It's not the end of the world. It's up to us to try and play with a positive mind and try to pull it back."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Suren on February 24, 2013, 22:41 GMT

    You need to score big to put pressure on the opposite team. Pak team has no dearth of fast bowlers or quality spin, but the fact is that they are only flat track bullies when it comes to batting. UAE is the only place where they can win that too if they have Ajmal in the team. Apart from younnis, I haven`t seen a decent batsman who can play in seaming conditions since Inzi / Yousuf. Asad safiq is the only one in the young line up, who seems to have some kind of technique. Rest all are crap.

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2013, 21:22 GMT

    You can't win matches on basis of 2-3 players. Every body need to participate, that was not availble here. Battin was expected as pak have average batting line up. But more disapointing was the bowling faliure.

    Has to do with selection, they selected 3 debutants for tour with inconsistant lead bowler gul, a flop medium pacer tanveer, only junaid impressed but out injured. Its selection error.

    In batting toufeq injured and nasir failed to avail chance. Hafeez terrible but not accepting & withdrawing opening spot, keeper we selected was poor batsman than ajmal.

    Yes agree they need to play more tests in these conditions. Among full teams pak is playing less tests than others.

    About conditions why not make green pitches in dimestic circuit? Why you make flat wickets domestic tournments.

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2013, 21:12 GMT

    @ Kirstenfan

    Dude, for the period between Feb 2012 to Feb 2013 (excluding the current Pak vs SA series), S.Africa has played 11 test matches and 9 warm up test matches.

    On the other hand, Pakistan played just 3 test matches and 0 (ZERO!!!!!) warm up test matches.

    So no, Smith just does not have any justfication at all to complain about more test matches.

    Check the facts before "rubbishing" aside with ignorance.

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2013, 21:07 GMT

    Pakistan team should include Md Yusuf,A.razzaq and Umar akmal and instd ofplaying hafeez as a openeer he should bat at no.7.Pak selector plssssssssss bring some new faces,its enough is enough for Misbah,umar gul.its time to go now for pakistan good cricket.can anybody tell me plss what the benefits for coach like Dave Whatmore n bowling coach Akram!!!I think politics involve in cricket and that ruined pak cricket!!

  • A on February 24, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    I dont know why PAK fans are so disappointed? 3-0 was expected and predicted by many including myself. The 3rd test match was played on the SA stronghold with only one team ever(ENG)won and a lot of the wins at the ground by SA were more than an innings margin!! Historically PAK has never performed well against SA & AUS, both have similar conditions. PAK in past has won series in NZL and ENG but it was mainly due to a lot of PAK players familiar with the ENG conditions by playing in county & league cricket. The matter of fact is PAK dont play much test cricket especially in SA and AUS and hence there is no incentive for PCB to invest in the fast bouncy wickets in PAK. All countries in the world play at home according to their strengths. UAE is not exactly home, but I think PAK can push any team in Asian conditions. I am sure SA will perform well in UAE, but dont be surprised to see PAK win the series. PAK spin attack is best and only ENG spin attack comes closer.

  • ishrat on February 24, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    poor team slection,poor bowling squard,and ofcoarse poor batting,itlooked like a school team was playing against auniversity team,we needed mature players,like shoab malik,a\razzak,yousaf ,umar akmal,when you put up an unexperienced team against a mature team ,well the result is in front.misbah needs to go,he is 40 yr old,i understand he is in t20 and one day matches,his train has left,he has one thing to praise about,POORshow,he needs to go,we need to have better understanding of physical fittness like the s.africians,australians and the engish team,and of coarse the politice and SAFARASHIES should not be included,but this is pakistan,i can name 5 players who had been under performers but they are always long as we keep flying below these clouds we cannever perform better.

  • Rizwan on February 24, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    Misbah, did it just dawn on you after a thorough whitewash that team isn't playing enough test games? I never heard a peep from you after series win against india that instead of playing shorter format, Pak needs to concentrate more on tests. Bigger problem is not lack of enough tests, its the lack of temperament and talent in the current batting lineup. Among seniors we've Misbah who's so defensive & slow scoring that they can single handily handover the game to opponent, and Younis, this guy would give a random decent knock and then think his job is done for rest of the series. And we've a consistently failure opener in M. Hafeez, even after 8 yrs playing international cricket, he averages a miserly 25+, no foot work, no intelligence about shot selection & if continues, he'll soon earn the top post for being the most out duck on 1st ball & yet he proudly thinks there's nothing wrong with his technique! whole battling line is madeup of no-talent mediocres, thats the crux of problem.

  • Saleem on February 24, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    The question is why is Pakistan not scheduled to more test even overseas? ICC schedule is more or less discriminating Pakistan

  • Imran on February 24, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    Totally agree with Misbah, but look at your performances guys it was a totally shame to watch the way you batted, especially as a leader u could lead the team up from the front but your disgraceful defensive approach always sink Pakistan. We need a leader not a defender, look at Micheal Clark, Dhoni, Cook they always come up with role models with great leadership qualities. You need to step down from the captaincy or probably leave the cricket now. So, unfair to see your saying about the conditions there in SA rather than focusing on your own techniques how to handle the moving ball.

  • Suraj on February 24, 2013, 19:57 GMT

    Congratulation South Africa and Graeme Smith.All the Best Pakistan for Limited Overs Fixture... Reasons for the 3-0 whitewash: 1) SAs strength - number 1 in the world 2) Conditions - alien, most have never played here 3) Preparation - inadequate to give them a realistic chance 4) Scheduling - last played in July 5) Injuries - Taufeeq and Junaid 6) Lack of coaching stability since beating England, both head coach and otherwise 7) Lack of prioritizing the test game, PSL and revival of bilateral ties higher on agenda 8- Lack of potency in the seam bowling - distinct lack of quality 9) Selection - Ignoring Adnan was an obvious blunder and refusing to play Rehman 10) Not being pro-active, especially after the 1st defeat such as continuing to open with an all at sea Mohammad Hafeez and not shuffling the batting order...

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