Six months ago, Misbah-ul-Haq was playing for Peshawar Zalmi, his remarkable career that simply refused to end still going strong. In 2018, he had backtracked on his agreement with Islamabad United to be a mentor, instead going on to play for Zalmi as a gold-category player in the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League. But now, at age 45, a decisive moment lies ahead for Pakistan's longest serving Test captain: embrace a coaching career or not?
Having brought to an end the tenure of Mickey Arthur and his staff earlier this month, Pakistan are seeking applications for the next head coach, with the plan to appoint one by August 26. Misbah was, ESPNcricinfo understands, formally offered the role after Arthur's departure, even though he hadn't applied for the job.
"I have clarity now that I will be focusing towards helping players," he said when asked about his coaching ambitions. "In fact, I have been working with players during my days in SNGPL [Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited], Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi, so I know how to go about it. But it's not final yet that I am going to apply for the job, so everything that has been reported about me is speculative."
In the absence of the coaching staff, he has agreed on a consultancy role as camp commander to overlook Pakistan's 20-day training ahead of the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka later this year. He has also been involved in the selection process of probable players for the camp, and is part of the PCB independent set-up reviewing and finalising the six domestic association teams comprising 32 players each.
Misbah's increasing role in the new PCB set-up augurs well for his chances of getting the top job, but there are questions about the process should he be the next appointee. He was part of the PCB cricket committee that decided that it was time to look beyond Arthur and the rest of the coaching staff, and were he to replace the previous head coach, it could be construed as conflict of interest.
Also, in its advertisement for a new head coach, the PCB sought someone who was at least a Level 2 coach, with relevant experience of at least three years with elite cricketers. Misbah is an ECB Level 2 coach and recently underwent a PCB Level 2 course at the National Cricket Academy - the board is understood to prefer a PCB qualification. The three-year experience the PCB appears to require, however, Misbah does not possess yet. But that may not be a big enough hurdle for the former Pakistan captain to cross if he does want to make the jump.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent