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Lord's win excellent for Pakistan, but is there more to come?

Pakistan celebrate their victory in the first Test over England at Lord's
Pakistan celebrate their victory in the first Test over England at Lord's
©REUTERS / Action Images
The team follow Misbah's lead and celebrate with a set of press-ups
The team follow Misbah's lead and celebrate with a set of press-ups
©REUTERS / Action Images
Misbah celebrates his century at Lord's
Misbah celebrates his century at Lord's
©REUTERS / Action Images
Your author, pictured here, played alongside Misbah as a young cricketer
Your author, pictured here, played alongside Misbah as a young cricketer
©Jibran Khan Niazi

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, currently the oldest of all active Test skippers, got his team back on track after a frustrating start to the first Test against England and then fulfilled his promise to do 10 press-ups at Lord’s after securing his 10th century for Pakistan.

His fitness past the age of 40 is an example to youngsters. I still remember when he returned from a tour of the West Indies and despite 48 hours travelling, went directly to the ground to do his routine training and exercise, and only after that did he go home. When a colleague enquired as to why he did not go home for a rest after a long journey, he said "I have not done exercise for two days and maintaining fitness is more important than rest".

It is pertinent to mention here that even the harsh and irrelevant criticism never irritated him as he believes in proving his ability by work which is why even his harshest critics were forced to acknowledge his worth.

Another friend of his told me that Misbah’s marriage has been a huge influence as his wife always observes fasting and continuously prays for him while he is in the field.

I was in camp with Misbah during his second season of domestic cricket and I saw him ask team coach Arshad Pervez (also known as Bata), then an international cricketer, to hire another room due to overcrowding. Bata replied "What is your value? You have not reached international level and have no centuries to your credit. Look at me, I have plenty of centuries and we used to sleep on the stairs". Misbah did not react and pledged then to make centuries in international cricket.

Once he advised me to continue studying as according to him his MBA degree helped him how to deal with people. On another occasion, we were both lapping the stadium, and he advised me to not waste my energy on useless exercise. His training and exercise always has a purpose.

He is now the most successful Pakistani Test captain and has earned more success than others. The reasons behind his success? The critics say that he is humble, cool, polite and bold, allowing him to command the team effectively.

As far as the performance and behaviour of the team is concerned it is worrisome that the openers have not delivered so far and that main weapon Mohammad Amir failed to gain much momentum, although leg-spinner Yasir Shah stunned the hosts with his performance and the entire England team seemed helpless in the face of his classic bowling.

It has been some comeback since he was banned for three months for taking banned substances, returning to action in March. Now, he is the quickest bowler to 50 Test wickets and is bowling consistently. He is not so affective in One-Day International or Twenty20 International cricket and hence the Pakistani selectors may choose to give other spinners a chance.

Most of the players selected for the tour are products of street cricket, none of them coming from rich backgrounds. While their domestic records are good they seem confused and frustrated - except the skipper and spinner Yasir Shah who have stunned the home side.

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, while expressing his views about talent in Pakistan, has said we must move away from a ‘world of dreams’. He has said Pakistan have to take some bold steps for survival and his main focus is to improve the condition of Pakistani cricket and plan a strategy for getting back on track, however he said to err is human therefore he and his team will not hesitate to rectify any mistakes they identify.

Credit goes to the crowd which has not shown any resentment against him although Alastair Cook had warned the pacer to be careful and avoid reacting to any comments made by spectators. The people of Pakistan are indebted to the English for their commendable behaviour.

The veteran cricketers of Pakistan are of the view that domestic cricket in Pakistan has to improve and a talent hunt scheme need to be launched at grass roots level, particularly in rural areas where youths with excellent physique and fitness are playing in their numbers. Many of these are talented street cricketers.

We have to set up cricket academies in towns and focus on training young cricketers by imparting cricketing know-how and character building. I still remember the words of Imran Khan who stressed the need to develop a vision for one's life that includes the discovery and/or defining of one's life mission and desired lifestyle.

The second is the development of one's character, dealing with concerns of direction and quality of life. The third deals with the development of competence - how well one is able to do something.

If the young players are trained using the guidelines above, I am confident Pakistan will be second to none in the world if selections are made purely on merit as emphasized by the chief selector.

The England tour is very important as it will help newly appointed head coach Mickey Arthur improve the team. I will suggest the following points for his consideration:

  • Consult cricket legends like Wasim Akram, former head coach Waqar Younus, Javed Miandad and other Test cricketers not on the PCB selection panel
  • Closely watch domestic cricket and its set-up and read the mindset of the cricketers and their style of living as well
  • Liaise with the chief selector and captain, study the conduct of each player independently and work to promote professionalism among the players.
  • Develop consistency among the batsmen by improving their temperament and techniques to chase big totals on all pitches as well as improving the side’s fielding. Our bowlers will need some attention too.

© Cricket World 2016