There is an interesting power battle going on, but one would not know that until one peeks into Pakistan cricket.
Even as Shahid Afridi continues to struggle to maintain his integrity in the face of being criticized by the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan coach, Waqar Younis, who did not explicitly state in public his problems with the former Pakistan captain, Misbah ul Haq has silently notched scales in earning praise once more not only as a player but also as Pakistan’s captain.
At thirty-seven years of age and after a period of frustration where he admittedly to wanting to burn his cricket equipment from the hurt of being left out, Misbah ul Haq had had a rather quick turnaround of fortunes, becoming Pakistan’s Test captain a year ago and recently taking over the reins of the Pakistan ODI captaincy after controversy of a reported Waqar-Afridi rift saw the PCB take the captaincy out of Shahid Afridi’s hands.
Almost as it to suggest that Pakistan had finally found the right qualities in a captain, Waqar Younis is reportedly rather pleased with Misbah’s style of working, even attributing him as a mature captain who knows how to lead his men. Lavishing high praise on Misbah, Waqar is reported to have stated that Misbah had a way of making the players feel comfortable in their responsibilities and their roles, leading to a conducive environment in the dressing room.
Shahid Afridi has had his fair share of controversies, although there has been a general consensus amongst former Pakistan cricketers that the captaincy sat well on Afridi’s shoulders, particularly in the shorter formats of the game. Afridi did have his chance to captain the Pakistan team but stepped down after the first Test against England before the spot fixing scandal blew up in Pakistan’s face. Although Afridi has been a stable captain on that front, the backdoor troubles brewing between him and the coach had led to much acrimony, resulting in Afridi having to tackle the PCB on issues that have come about in tangent to the controversial fall out. In the mean time though Misbah impressed the Pakistan cricket administration as a Test captain, enough for the PCB to hand over the reins of the Pakistan ODI captaincy, although the PCB have stated that they are maintaining the policy of naming the Pkaistan captain on a series by series basis.
However, Waqar’s only concern appears to be Misbah’s age which would make him forty-one by the time of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to be staged in Australia and New Zealand. While Misbah has refused to acknowledge age as a deciding factor in a player’s cricket career, the coach has apparently suggested to the Pakistan Cricket Board that it would be prudent if they began their search in grooming a young captain who could show maturity to lead the team in four year’s time.
Although four years seems too long given the changing winds of sand in Pakistan cricket, that there is at least the thought of forward planning is a healthy step. The team composition, however, may continue to remain a matter of controversy as also, the options before the Pakistan Cricket Board for the next Pakistan captain.