Misbah’s surprising and fruitful rise had subjected the impulsive Shahid Afridi under pressure as captain. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the 15-man World Cup squad without naming the captain.
The PCB was wrong – yet again. By not announcing the captain, the PCB had pushed the team in a zone of uncertainty. In contrast, teams around the world are warming under their captain and coach, ahead of the biggest event in world cricket. Thrills and excitement are best scripted on the cricket field. The PCB decision is counterproductive for the team and made Pakistan cricket a laughing stock.
Afridi is an impulsive Yusuf Pathan. His cricket is quite unconventional and it’s useless trying to teach such characters. His skills have not been honed by traditional coaching but on the rugged mountains of Pakistan where Pathans hunt like tigers. They are born to thrill and entertain.
I find it surprising when people blame Afridi for being irresponsible. Such critics forget his ability to responsibly mould a bunch of diverse characters though troubled waters on the tour of England and in the home series against South Africa in the ODIs.
He was in the centre of the infamous ball biting controversy that tarnished Pakistan’s image, but since then Afridi has been visibly disciplined.
As a captain Afridi’s record is not great, but he has brought togetherness in the team. Moreover, he is being tested as the ODI captain for almost one year. Mind you, during his reign as the Pakistan’s ODI captain, the whole team was plagued with filthy controversies, but credit to Afridi that he kept the team’s unity intact.
Even if it’s belated, the PCB has finally taken the right decision by naming Afridi as captain for the World Cup.
The World Cup is multi-nation tournament and not a bilateral one. This is not the stage for experimentation.
Misbah’s captaincy is good, but captaining World Cup is a huge responsibility for him. At best, Misbah can be a very good advisor and an anchor of Afridi on the field – similar to what Javed Miandad was for Imran Khan in the 80’s. Naming Misbah as Afridi’s deputy is the correct decision.
Afridi has contributed in troubled times when he led in incredibly difficult circumstances and without his best players. He has been tested several times in challenging situations. In the ODI series against New Zealand, Afridi has answered his critics with astute captaincy and with blazing batting. He has led Pakistan to a series victory amidst much criticism.
The captaincy for the World Cup is a just reward.
(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)