Misbahul Haq, the man who broke cricket beyond repair

Published: April 10, 2017

Misbah-ul-Haq poses with the ICC Champions Trophy, ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Karachi, March 30, 2017. PHOTO: PCB.

As ungentlemanly as it is to castigate someone in the aftermath of a retirement, such is the rage I harbour for the man named Misbahul Haq that I’ll break this sporting code.

Before I tear into my vitriolic rant, I’ll start by saying that I have nothing against Misbah ‘the person’. In fact, as a captain, he did a stellar job staying clear of any controversies a la the Salman Butts and Wasim Akrams of these shores. I’ll give him that. Statistically speaking too, Misbah, I’ve come to know, was better than some of our better ones. He also deserves some marks for taking the armband in 2010 — a time when it was more a poisoned chalice than an honour.

But my beef with Misbah isn’t about numbers. It isn’t even about how he calmed a sinking ship and cleaned up our rotten image… until it became rottener.

A dejected Misbah-ul-Haq leaves the field after holing out, Australia v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2017.
Photo: AFP

Trust me, I’m not even holding against him the fact that we lost the World T20 final against India. After all, per Misbah fanboy logic, that doesn’t even count since it was him who had single-handedly brought us to that place. The point is that he may have a winning ratio beyond 100%, he may have played a cleaner better than even Harvey Keitel himself, but Misbah will always remain the man who took the joy of cricket from me.

Misbah-ul-Haq chases the ball, Australia v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Sydney, 1st day, January 3, 2017.
Photo: Getty images

Under this particular Mianwali-born, Pakistan’s natural attacking nous, aggression, raw power — all ethos of our cricketing culture — died a slow, poisonous death. Instead of being a proactive, in-your-face side as we always were, Misbah’s Pakistan cricket team became a timid creature, happy to simply react and dance to others’ tunes rather than set the tone itself. The deeper we went into the Misbah era, the good old days of taking the game to the opposition became more and more a distant memory.

On a good day, Misbah and his men would batter lowly opposition to beef up their ‘winning percentage’. A bad day would see him fold his arms up and run his hand through his beard as if some masterly plan was in the making. The session would end, the day would end, the match would end, but the conjuring of the grand plan wouldn’t. And instead of offsetting his contagious defensive mind-set with more vibrant personalities, the Tuk Tuk maestro stockpiled on cricketers cut from the same cloth as himself.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq lofts one down the ground, Pakistan v West Indies, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 1st day, October 21, 2016.
Photo: AFP

So while the world went Abraham Benjamin de Villiers, we went Azhar Ali. The world churned out Virat Kohlis and we’d emit a measly Asad Shafiq (the ODI one). This was the Misbah effect.

Before Misbah trudged up the field with his sleepy face and Mianwali drawl, the country had an embarrassment of riches in the aggression department. The pool was so rich with attack-first talent that our selectors regularly binned world-class players just because they could afford to.

Misbah-ul-Haq celebrates a hundred on his first appearance at Lord’s, England v Pakistan, 1st Investec Test, Lord’s, 1st day, July 14, 2016.
Photo: Getty Images

There was always someone waiting in the wings who could smack till his bat broke or bowl till his back broke. Not in the Misbah era though. The man has sucked every drop of excitement out of the game. And for that, as far as I am concerned, he will always remain the man who broke cricket beyond repair.

Zohaib Majeed

Zohaib Majeed

The author works for an English leading daily. He hates cricket, loves combat sports and is indifferent to politics. He tweets @zohaib86

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Daud

    if you hate cricket then why do you bother to write about it ?Recommend

  • Syed Muhammad Bilal

    Wasted 10mins of my life reading this
    Recommend

  • Karsaz

    I completely disagree! do you forgot the day he scored joint fastest Hundred?Recommend

  • Hasan

    Oh I wasn’t aware the author was a cricket expert. Seriously the problem with Pakistanis is that every Tom Dick and Harry thinks they know cricket better than the people who are in the ground. Why would ET put such Garbage on anyway.

    Seriously Misbah is the best thing that could have happened to Pakistan cricket. Pakistani audience love flamboyancy, but take a look at the LONG career of Shahid Afridi and the comparatively short one of Misbah.

    We got more memorable matches under Misbah than under any captain in history of Pakistan cricket. Pakistan is finally churning out Batsmen that can atleast stay on the pitch for some time.Recommend

  • AB

    One of the worst, absolute worst, crcket articles ever written. I am embarrassed for the author.Recommend

  • Haseeb

    A person who hates cricket, find time to criticize Misbah! What an irony!Recommend

  • Ali Mirza

    I am surprised someone with no knowledge of cricket has the audacity to comment on a stalwart revered everywhere else in the world.

    To summarize, the Azhars, the Asad Alis is not a problem created by Misbah. He was asked to manage them and he did the best he could considering the talent he had at his disposal.

    Does Tribune even have standards for its writers?Recommend

  • farhan

    i think that maybe the writer was seeking attention..and he succeededRecommend

  • Fayez Qamar

    My affection for Misbah on one side.

    I have never read a more farcical, risible, pointless piece of literature in my life.

    I am sure you are a merited writer and hence you have been given the honor of being published. Yet I am sorry to say this, sir, that your (although thesaurus-infested) article has no merit and spews your lackofunderstandingofcricket.

    But I do not blame you. You are a product of the “Boom Boom” mentality which is courtesy Mr. Afridi.

    I sincerely hope that you produce better articles in other fields. Although with no knowledge of (most) sports and indifference to politics, I suppose you are left with only tabloid articles to write on Sunny Leone’s dressing at the Red Carpet.

    All the best to you sir.Recommend

  • anon

    Absolutely useless article. You castigate him for the very thing that kept Pak cricket afloat. You wanted him to be aggressive when morale was low? When pak cricket was on the brink? If it wasn’t for him, 2010 would have been the beginning of the end. Recommend