Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo
There are few things so certain in life as death, taxes and Misbah-ul-Haq facing questions about his future before the final match of a Pakistan Test series. While it is hardly unusual for an international captain to be grilled about their motivation to continue - even Alastair Cook, 11 years younger than his counterpart, was asked similar questions in his press conference - at 42, Misbah knows there are many more Tests behind him than there are ahead.
And no matter the result of the match at The Oval, the topic will almost certainly be broached once more at its conclusion; such is the reality of professional cricket life after 40.
Misbah's captaincy of Pakistan is arguably one of the most impressive in the history of the game: that he has rebuilt a team in tatters after it was almost ruined by scandal, led them to become one of the world's best sides despite never playing at home and helped them regain the respect of the international cricket community ensures his legacy will be monumental whenever he does decide to call time on his career.
While winning the Investec Test series is now impossible, levelling the scoreline would still be an impressive feather in Misbah's already distinguished cap given the current status quo, in which the disadvantages of playing away from home are so difficult to overcome.
"Yes, of course, it is a crucial Test for us," Misbah said. "A win will square the series and it will be really good for morale, also for the team, and it is very important for me also.
"Obviously they have the momentum in their own conditions, they are confident but we believe we can come back from any position because this is a do or die Test match for us so we have to really play well."
Throughout the series, Pakistan have struggled with the balance of their side. They gaze at England's allrounders with all the envious desire of a child at a sweet shop window. Their fast bowlers - unused to playing more than three Tests in a series, unfamiliar with the burden of extra overs required in seam-friendly conditions - have been worn down by a grinding England.
Somehow, Misbah must find a way to pick up his bowlers and infuse them with the energy required to take 20 wickets and inspire his batsmen, both in-form and struggling, to give him something to defend. But, having banished thoughts of retirement after the series against England in the UAE last year, he maintained he isn't afraid of any consequences for his captaincy should they fail to square the series.
"I don't have that sort of fear otherwise I would have retired long ago," Misbah said. "I am always up for challenges and never thought of the results. I believe in just looking at the challenges and trying hard."
Another daunting Test tour looms in Pakistan's near future. After returning to the UAE to host West Indies, they will head to New Zealand for two Tests and then Australia for a three-Test series where the experience of Misbah and Younis Khan, in particular, could be crucial. Misbah has been Pakistan's leading run-scorer in England, with 267 at 44.50, but would not be drawn on how much longer he hopes to continue playing.
"It's really difficult for me to leave the team on these difficult tours," Misbah said. "That's why I'm here on this tough series. I'll be looking forward to that [Australia tour], but let's see how it goes after this series, and how I plan my future.
"That could be really hard for someone young - even as a batsman to replace me in Australian conditions - and obviously it would be a challenge for a young captain."
Of course, there will always be challenging tours and series and, no matter when Misbah does decide to move on, he will leave an enormous crater for Pakistan to fill. But, in the meantime, there is The Oval, there is a chance to level the series and there is the possibility - albeit a slim one - that Pakistan could become the No. 1-ranked side in the world for the first time since the implementation of ICC rankings.
"I will keep trying throughout this Test and if Pakistan needs me afterwards, that's another point. I will think about that after the series but for the moment this is important for me and the Pakistan team. I will just go about this Test match."