Pakistan’s most successful Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq has finally decided to leave international cricket, after the forthcoming three-match Test series against West Indies, starting April 21. Misbah held a press conference in Lahore on Thursday to finally put an end to the debate over his playing future.
“It will be my last series and I had conveyed this to the chairman (Pakistan Cricket Board) quite some time ago,” Misbah said while talking to reporters at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. “I will try to finish it on a high note.
“There was no pressure on me. I was planning to quit after the England series in the UAE [in October 2015] but there were some things and I had to carry on playing. But overall it’s fine and not like I am under any pressure or somebody has dictated this to me. I have myself understood that this is it and it’s purely my own decision. It’s a wrong impression that the board has enforced this as my last series or there’s a patch-up between me and the cricket board. I thought to play against West Indies because it was important for us as we haven’t won against them in their own backyard.”
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Misbah has been under severe scrutiny following the six consecutive Test defeats under his reign — Pakistan lost their away series in New Zealand and Australia by margins of 2-0 and 3-0 respectively — and questions were raised over his long-term playing future and poor form with the bat. But it is also to his credit that Pakistan had reached the number one rank in ICC Test rankings in August last year.
“A cricket career is like your life, it can’t be smooth. There are failures and successes, and you learn from it. The last six years had been like this. You get disappointed a bit with your failures but you don’t give up. You always try to learn from it and get better. You can’t win every day. You learn a lot from your failures. Whatever achievements I had I am quite happy with it. I enjoyed it a lot and I am very satisfied with whatever I did.” he said.
“With Pakistan, it was my dream that we win the 2011 and 2015 World Cups but it wasn’t to be. The best moment was when the Test mace came to Pakistan. The last two series were difficult, you do try overall but sometimes you are successful and sometimes you are not, so it’s part and parcel of your life.”
Misbah regretted not being able to lead the side in Pakistan and said he will continue to play domestic cricket.
“One regret is that I never captained the Test team in Pakistan and also not captaining against India.” he said.
“I will continue to play cricket at the domestic level,” he said. “Regarding when I will leave domestic cricket, I will decide it later.”
He also urged critics support the team and refrain from personal comments and criticism.
“Personal criticism is not good for Pakistan,” he said. “Instead of criticising personalities, it’s better if we start talking positively about Pakistan cricket. It’s always helpful for players and the country, otherwise being negative all the time give negative vibes and this affects players’ energy and performances.
“Overall maybe Pakistan doesn’t get much support, but we all, including me, make sure we as a country are behind our team and support our players so that morally they should go and fight in international matches.”
The 42-year-old, who was named in Wisden’s prestigious Cricketers of the Year list on Wednesday, has represented Pakistan in 76 Test matches, scoring 4951 runs at an average of 45.84. Misbah is also the most successful Pakistan Test captain with 24 wins in 53 matches, and currently, sits seventh on the list of Pakistan’s highest Test run-scorers.