Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
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Former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has decided to step down as the chief selector of the men's cricket team, a role he held for over a year. Misbah, however, will continue as the head coach of the team, and will pick the squads for the upcoming home series against Zimbabwe as well as the tour of New Zealand in December.
"I want to announce that I am leaving the responsibility as chief selector," he said at a press conference. "The rationale behind my decision is that in the next two years, we have 10 major series and many of them are away tours. So it's tough for me to work as chief selector while watching out for domestic cricket.
"Anyway, there was always an understanding between me and the PCB that whenever I feel difficulty, I can leave this additional responsibility. I have thoroughly enjoyed the dual roles but after reviewing the past 12 months and looking ahead at the workload in the next 24 months of my tenure, it is the right time to take a call [so] that I can fully invest my focus on the coaching role."
ESPNcricinfo understands another reason that led to Misbah's decision was the implementation of the PCB's new code of ethics that was put in place to remove issues arising from conflict of interest. However, when he had taken over the dual selector-coach role in September 2019, this specific code of ethics - which was ratified in July 2020 - did not exist.
In light of the code, Misbah's case specifically came under the spotlight under a potential conflict of interest, with him being selector and head coach of the Pakistan national side as well as having a contract with Islamabad United as head coach for the fifth edition of the PSL. That season, though, remains unfinished and is likely to be completed in the second week of November.
Misbah strongly quashed rumours that his decision was a result of him recently bypassing the PCB chairman and executive's meeting with the Prime Minister Imran Khan - who is also the patron of the PCB - to voice his reservation against PCB's policy on the current domestic structure. The meeting saw the PCB chairman Ehsan Mani face off with Misbah, Test captain Azhar Ali and senior player Mohammad Hafeez. It is understood that the entire saga left a bad taste in the mouths of Mani as well as the PCB CEO Wasim Khan.
"There are rumours that my decision came after meeting with the PCB chairman about that [infamous] meeting with Imran bhai," Misbah said. "I can confirm that there is nothing like this... If it had to go this way, then I could have lost both the roles and not kept the head coach's job. This decision is absolutely my choice about how I want to move forward and how to focus on Pakistan cricket and players.
"I think whatever work [I did] and the decisions I made during the [time] span [of being the selector], they were possibly the best and taken in the interest of Pakistan cricket. So many players got in and made their place with their performances, and I am satisfied that we are going in the right direction.
"Coaching is my passion and my ultimate objective remains to contribute to the development of players and help the side achieve bigger successes. When I was appointed last year, I was offered the coaching role first and then given the option to also head the selection committee, which I had graciously accepted. I am grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board for their understanding and for supporting my thought process."
With his exit, Misbah's unprecedented influence over Pakistan cricket comes to an end as the PCB experimented with the idea of giving him extensive roles as head coach, chief selector and batting coach. He was given a three-year contract including annual appraisal as per his performance, while the role of selector was always supplementary. The debate in Pakistan on removing him from the dual role had started merely six months into his contract, as Pakistan were swept 3-0 in a T20I series at home against Sri Lanka.
However, as chief selector, Misbah introduced Abid Ali, Naseem Shah, Musa Khan and Usman Khan Shinwari in Tests and blooded the T20I squad with youngsters Haris Rauf, Haider Ali, Ahsan Ali and Khushdil Shah.
Misbah's contract is being tweaked and he will formally step aside from the role of chief selector on November 30, with his replacement to take over from December. The body of the selection committee, though, will remain intact with head coaches of each of the six cricket associations acting as members of the committee to assist the chief selector.
"Over the last two weeks, Misbah has worked closely with the other selectors to finalise the squads for both the upcoming series with Zimbabwe and the New Zealand tour, which will follow in November," Wasim said.
"With a new chief selector, we will revisit the selection criteria to ensure that there is complete alignment between the Selection Committee, the High Performance Centre and the national men's cricket team. With so much red and white-ball cricket ahead, we will need to select squads that have a strong balance between youth and experience".
Misbah is due to announce the squad for the Zimbabwe limited-overs series on October 19 followed by the two squads - the national and A team - for the tour of New Zealand.