Regarded as Pakistan's most successful Test captain, Misbah-ul-Haq recently retired from international cricket having lead his country to 26 Test wins in 56 games. Apart from his excellent captaincy that took Pakistan to the number one ranked team in Tests, Misbah-ul-Haq also distinguished himself as batsman whereby in 75 Tests he scored 5222 runs at an average of 46.62, which included 10 hundreds and 39 fifties.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Misbah-ul-Haq spoke about his final Test match as captain for Pakistan, the special bond of friendship that he developed with his team, expressed his appreciation for fellow retired batsman Younis Khan and identified batsmen who can carry the torch for Pakistan after his departure.
By Amir Husain (20th May, 2017)
PakPassion.net : What emotions were going through your mind on the last day of your Test career?Misbah-ul-Haq : I don’t think there were any overpowering emotions or anything special that I felt leading the team that day. The only thing on my mind was that it was a very important day of the third Test match and we had a chance to make history. I was totally focused on my task as to me it was just another game I was playing for Pakistan and I was just thinking all the time about what I needed to do as a captain and a player to get the result we all wanted. I can tell you that no thoughts about the fact that I was retiring at the end of this game would have stopped me from playing my normal game and that is what I did that day. I did my job as normal that day and enjoyed every bit of the time I was on the pitch.PakPassion.net : Before starting the final day, did you discuss the importance of the last day of your international career with Younis Khan?Misbah-ul-Haq : One thing that was clear in Younis’ and my mind was that when we walked off the field at the end of the final day, we will do so with a smile and feel happy and satisfied with what we had achieved in this series and in our careers. We were just happy to enjoy the moment with our team and we departed on a positive note. We did not allow any emotions to overshadow this game and yes, we did enjoy our last day, but make no mistake we played with the same focus and enthusiasm as we have played throughout our careers.PakPassion.net : Did you have anything special to say to the squad when the game finally ended?Misbah-ul-Haq : Undoubtedly, it was a special day for us and I thanked the management and players for what we had achieved together. It was a wonderful journey for all of us and I have to say that the love and respect they gave to me is something special and something which will stay in my memory forever. PakPassion.net : You seem to have developed a special bond with your team during the past seven years or so?Misbah-ul-Haq : I am not exaggerating here but as a team, we spent more time together on tours than we did with our families so that made us bond even closer as a unit. The squad in a sense was as close to each other as they were to their families. This was clear in the way we all fought for each other in the third Test against the West Indies. Let me say that after the Australia tour, I was giving serious thought to retirement but every player came to me and said to me that this is not how you have to leave cricket. They told me that I had to play the next series against the West Indies and they would win and give me a proper send-off with victory as a present. To tell you the truth, I am still overcome with the respect that the team and its management has given to me and that is something I will cherish forever.
PakPassion.net : How would you describe Younis Khan’s career?Misbah-ul-Haq : He has been an excellent player; an excellent batsman and a fantastic fielder as well. He is of course, a good human being. As a captain, you know that you are fortunate if you have someone like Younis on your side as he is capable of raising his game in any type of situation. He did that for us, time and time again, during his career and especially so in the seven years that I was captain of the Pakistan side. He had this knack to construct match-winning knocks from tough situations and that was something special. He had a special kind of self-belief which inspired everyone around him including youngsters and even his captain. He was never afraid of hard work which would benefit the team but what really impressed everyone was the courage he had when facing difficult situations and how he managed to make those runs against all odds. He has always been there when anyone needed him and these are qualities that are not easy to find. He was the ultimate team man and I am honoured to have shared the dressing room with him as well as sharing batting partnerships. These are some of the things that I will remember all my life. He will go down in the history of cricket as not only the best batsman from Pakistan, but will surely be regarded as one of the best in the world as well.PakPassion.net : Have you given some thought to the legacy both of you have left behind?Misbah-ul-Haq : If we talk of legacies then apart from records and statistics, I believe the biggest change that we brought about was the change in the atmosphere of the dressing room. It was never a case of anyone being a senior or a junior in the team. Of course, the juniors in the team gave us their respect but Younis and I made sure that our relationship with all the players was that of a friend. In terms of our cricket, we brought in a really good sense of discipline in the team. By this I mean that we made sure that everyone was dedicated and committed to practice, training and our approach was professional. Younis and I showed the youngsters by example that we have always got to work hard on our own game, follow the instructions of the trainer and coaches to the letter. If that meant making personal sacrifices and do what looked like a difficult task, we went ahead and did what was required and never took our foot off the pedal in that way. This is the kind of attitude which was missing in Pakistan cricket before and this is what we are leaving behind. I feel that the team is now more disciplined, structured and more in line with the modern game as they are willing to look after their diets and training regimes. The type of disciplined performances in their batting and bowling that we see in the middle is a result of this attitude which we have developed. The team is willing to work hard and go that extra mile to help Pakistan achieve more successes in the future which is very satisfying for us.PakPassion.net : Do you see the example you have set throughout your careers reflected in the performances of the youngsters?Misbah-ul-Haq : I have always believed that the only real way to teach someone to do better than what they are doing now is by showing them an example that you set yourself. This is exactly what Younis and I strove to do during our careers. The idea was to inculcate the culture of hard-work, devotion and commitment to your profession by doing that ourselves. When the youngsters observe their seniors putting theory into practice, then they automatically will follow the same path for themselves. I do hope and pray that this trend continues and the younger players can maintain this work-ethic, and in time even improve on what we set as an example. I believe that we have shown them how to develop themselves as international cricketers by setting some rules and paths for progress. All they need to do is to follow these guidelines and continue on their path to become top-class cricketers.PakPassion.net : Who in your view are the players who can carry on after Younis Khan's and your departure from cricket?Misbah-ul-Haq : Whenever I am asked this question, I always think back to the time when greats like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf left the scene. Of course, we were never close to their stature and could not match their performances in cricket. However, we were given that responsibility of taking over their mantle and it was our job to make sure that we took our job seriously. Fortunately, Younis and I were relatively senior at that time and we tried to fill the gap left by their departures. Later on, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed came on to the scene and established their own presence in international cricket. Now that both of us have retired, I look upon these three fine batsmen to carry on the mission and the role that we performed. They have all played enough Test cricket in my view that they can fill the gap left by our departure to guide the youngsters who will be replacing us in the future. They can do so by setting the examples that I talked about and do the same role as we did when these three players were new to international cricket. This is how it has been in the past and this is exactly how transitions in cricket teams goes on worldwide.