LAHORE: Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq said in his blog for cricket.com.au that he was offered captaincy in a clerk’s office at the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) headquarters in Lahore. In the aftermath of the infamous 2010 spot-fixing scandal that saw one of the country’s three “finest” cricketers banned from the game, the then PCB chairman Ijaz Butt arranged a secret meeting with the 42-year-old to offer him the captaincy role since “he didn’t have many options”.
“The chairman wanted to keep the meeting confidential and as it has been reported in the media recently it was arranged in a clerk’s room where I was offered the captaincy. I kept it a secret too and, owing to the state of affairs at that time, did not share it even with my family,” Misbah wrote.
At the time, Pakistan were ranked number six in Tests, but in six years time they topped the table for which the current Test captain is credited by experts and fans alike.“I knew handling the team in these circumstances would be a massive challenge but the thought in my mind was that if the Almighty had given me the opportunity to lead the team, He would assist me to make it a better unit, too.”
Misbah reminisces his deputy Azhar Ali dancing down the wicket and smoking Moeen Ali into the stands, completing Pakistan’s 10-wicket win over England at The Oval and in the process leveling the four-match Test series.
“I am glad that we fought well and made it a big occasion for the people of our country. The possibility of becoming the number one team for the first time also added to our energy.
“It is a huge achievement to be at top of the world. It is just like winning a World Cup for your team, therefore everyone in the team wanted to touch the summit no matter whether it was for a day or a week or a month.“The number one tag was in the minds of all the players and it motivated us a lot.”
However, the legendary skipper, who boasts 22 Test wins — the most by any Pakistani captain, terms 3-0 series win over England in 2012 as his biggest. “For me the biggest series win in these six years for us was clean sweeping England 3-0 in the UAE in 2012. The series had a lot of hype and England was number one team at that time.“Winning that series 3-0 instilled a lot of belief in us and added a lot to our fighting spirits.”
Two weeks ago when Mike Atherton asked Misbah about his future, Misbah told the former English captain that the team has given him so much that he wants to continue to play till he can.
“The standout feature of this team is its fighting spirit; we made comebacks in the situations where many teams would have failed to cope with the pressure. Not only we have performed but we have improved with every new series,” he said.
Misbah termed The Oval Test to be an important match for him as it was his last contest in England and he wanted to “go out on a high”.
It is worth mentioning that in his 15-year-long Test career, Misbah had not played a single Test in England before the recently concluded tour. “In hindsight, a fifth Test would have been wonderful for the series. I even jokingly suggested to Alastair Cook that we play a decider, to which he said, ‘You must be wanting it at Lord’s or The Oval?’, and my response was, ‘No, we can beat you at Old Trafford and Edgbaston, too’.”